Drugs, alcohol and mental health - Introduction
How can drugs and alcohol affect my mental health?
People use drugs and drink alcohol for lots of different reasons. Whatever your reason, using drugs or alcohol may have a long-term negative effect on you. The possible long-term effects include the following:
- Needing to take more to get the same effect.
- Feeling like you must use the drug or alcohol ('dependence').
- Withdrawal symptoms including feeling sick, cold, sweaty or shaky when you don’t take them.
- Having sudden mood changes.
- Having a negative outlook on life.
- Loss of motivation.
- Doing less well at work, school, college or university.
- Problems with relationships.
- Borrowing or stealing money from friends and family.
- Being secretive.
- Having episodes of drug-induced psychosis.
It may take longer for your mental health to get better if you use drugs or alcohol. Drugs can make you more unwell and more likely to try and harm yourself or take your own life.
There is also some evidence that using some drugs may cause mental illness in the first place. For example, research has shown that cannabis can increase your chances of developing schizophrenia.
You can find more information about ‘Cannabis and mental health’ here.
What does psychosis mean?
If you have psychosis, you might see or hear things that others may not, or believe things other people do not. Some people describe it as a "break from reality". You may also hear terms such as “psychotic symptoms”, “psychotic episode” or “psychotic experience” describing the same thing.
It can be a symptom of mental illness and can also be a short-term effect of some drugs.
You can find more information about 'Psychosis' here.
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays