Opiate abuse in any form can open up a Pandora’s box of unexpected problems and issues. Whether taking these drugs for medicinal reasons, or using for recreational purposes, ongoing opiate use wears away at a person’s ability to cope with daily life.
Co-occurring disorders become an issue when opiate addiction and mental illness develop alongside each other. Conditions, such as depression and anxiety can easily take shape over the course of a developing addiction problem.
Understanding the relationship between opiate abuse and mental illness can help you or someone you know take steps to stopping opiate abuse in its tracks before a bad situation turns worse.
According to John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, opiate abuse and mental illness have a way of “seeking” each other out in terms of the effects these conditions have on brain functioning. Opiate drugs produce psychoactive effects, altering normal chemical processes in the brain over time.
This disruption naturally brings about imbalances in the brain’s chemical system. Once imbalances take root, conditions are ripe for mental illness or psychological disorder to develop.
The types of psychological disorders commonly associated with opiate abuse include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Panic disorder
Opiate Abuse Effects on Mental Illness
Severity of Mental Illness Worsens
While opiate addiction develops out of the drug’s effects on the brain, addiction in and of itself is actually a form of mental illness, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In effect, the changes brought about by opiates on brain chemistry warps the areas of the brain that regulate thinking and emotions in fundamental ways.
For these reasons, opiate addiction actually worsens the severity of a developing psychological disorder.
Addiction Potential Increases
Someone struggling with symptoms of depression or bouts of anxiety may well seek out an opiate “high” as a means to gain relief from symptoms of mental illness. Not surprisingly, it can easy to fall into a pattern of self-medicating uncomfortable symptoms.
Over time, this pattern of drug use only works to reinforce the addiction in terms of the psychological dependence that develops as a person comes to seek out relief through opiate abuse. In effect, opiate abuse and mental illness act as a two-way street with one condition aggravating the symptoms of the other.
People living with co-occurring disorders often experience the very worst of what these conditions have to offer in terms of the rapid decline in quality of life that occurs. Lifestyle effects brought on by co-occurring disorders often take the form of:
- Job loss
- Damaged relationships
- Problems with the law
- Financial strain
- Poor physical health
Ultimately, the combined effects of opiate addiction and mental illness can leave a person at the mercy of the drug’s effects in his or her life.
If you suspect you or someone you know is dealing with a co-occurring disorder and need help finding a treatment program, please don’t hesitate to call our helpline at 800-429-5210 (Who Answers?) to speak with one of our addiction specialists.