The Connection Between Drug Use and Mental Illness

There’s a sharp link between illicit drug use and mental illness. Individuals with mental illness, whether it is depression, schizophrenia or an anxiety disorder, are more likely to use drugs than those who don’t suffer from these conditions.

There are many reasons for these links, including genetics and the desire to self medicate. However, there are also serious dangers that can arise when people with mental illness take drugs. They may trigger depression, for example, which can worsen the symptoms of an existing mental health problem.

Let’s take a closer look at the connection between drug abuse and mental illness, and why it’s important to find a rehab treatment center with a dual diagnosis treatment plan that can address both together.

Drugs Use and Mental Illness Statistics

The connection between drug use and mental illness has been proven through research. Here are a few interesting stats linking mental illness and illicit drug use:


The Ties Between Mental Illness and Drug Usage

Drug use doesn’t necessarily cause mental illness, and mental illness doesn’t necessarily cause drug use. On the other hand, there are shared risk factors for both that contribute to the high incidence of mental illness and drug abuse, including:

  • Genetic vulnerability — Individuals who are genetically predisposed to drug addiction may also have a predisposition to a mental health problem.
  • Environmental triggers — Stress and trauma can trigger both drug addiction and mental illness.
  • Developmental disorders — If a person begins abusing drugs at a young age, this may change the brain and increase the likelihood of mental health disorders.


People with mental illness may also decide to self-medicate with drugs. Unable to find relief from their anxiety, depression, or other disorder, they may use drugs as a means of escape to temporarily numb their pain. People sometimes feel that using drugs also lessens the impact of their mental illness, which makes using them all the more tempting.

Treating Drug Abuse and Mental Illness

Trying to figure out the ties between mental illness and drug abuse can feel like trying to solve the chicken and the egg question. There may not be a clear-cut answer. Luckily, there’s one thing that is certain: both issues need to be addressed to lead to proper recovery.

At 12 Keys Rehab, our dual diagnosis plans treat addiction and underlying mental health concerns. Our staff will work with you to provide the best treatment options and most effective therapy, so you can treat all the underlying issues that led to addiction.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Plans at 12 Keys

At 12 Keys Rehab, we have a dual diagnosis treatment plan that provides our clients the tools they need to recover from their addiction and mental health problems. Contact us today to start working towards sobriety.

The Addiction Blog