How Does Alcohol and Drugs Affect Mental Health?

Legacy Healing Center Blog

Frequent drug use causes changes in the brain, disrupting normal communication between chemical messengers and neurotransmitters. Many individuals who develop substance use disorders are also diagnosed with mental health disorders. It is why at Legacy Healing Center in Fort Lauderdale, we have numerous addiction therapies that focus on drugs and alcohol’s relations to brain function and growth. We want to make sure the question “How does alcohol and drugs affect mental health?” is answered clearly and addressed properly. 

There are many reasons why someone might use drugs and alcohol. Some people use them to try and deal with the symptoms of their mental illness. This is referred to as self-medication. However, drugs and alcohol can make the symptoms of your mental illness worse. Some drugs may make it more likely for you to get an illness, or they make it harder to treat your mental condition. Our mental health and alcohol and drug counseling work together to give the support needed for someone trying to heal themselves. 

How Do Drugs Affect the Brain? 

The brain is the most complex of all organs inside the human body, as it regulates and coordinates every single process in your body. This is done through a communication system in which neurons pass messages back and forth among different structures within your brain and other body parts. 

Drugs interfere with and disrupt the way neurons send, receive, and process information. Depending on the type, different drugs affect different parts of your brain. Although one might provide a feeling of momentary pleasure, the side effects can be permanent. Some drugs, such as heroin and marijuana, activate neurons because their chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter in the body. 

Many people have been affected by this. Here at Legacy, we continue to help those with these substance abuse issues. Check out our drug and alcohol abuse quotes to read some testimonials from our patients.

How Alcohol Affects the Brain

Alcohol affects the part of your brain that controls inhibition. This is why you may feel relaxed, less anxious, and more confident after a drink. But these effects quickly wear off. The chemical changes in your brain can soon lead to more negative feelings, such as depression, anxiety, and anger, regardless of your mood. Alcohol and brain fog both come into play here as well, with brain fog being characterized by confusion, forgetfulness, and a lack of mental clarity. 

Drinks containing alcohol actually work as nervous system depressants. You might witness this after a person has had a few drinks. You will notice a person starting to have trouble coordinating their movements or speaking fluently. If a person continues to drink excessively, alcohol abuse can have a long-term effect on both one’s mental and physical health.

Addiction and the Brain

When we use things such as stimulants, opioids, sedatives, or alcohol, chemical compounds enter the brain or bloodstream. Once a chemical enters the brain, it can cause people to lose control of their impulses or crave a harmful substance. Instead of a simple, pleasurable surge of dopamine, many drugs of abuse cause dopamine to flood the reward pathway at a rate that is 10 times more than the natural reward. The brain remembers this surge and associates it with the addictive substance, which is how dependency begins. 

Take the Needed Steps for Recovery

After reading this, you can now answer the question, “How does alcohol and drugs affect mental health?” Whether you’re struggling with drug addiction, having difficulty managing symptoms of a mental disorder, or both, help is available. At our treatment center in Fort Lauderdale, FL, we provide a continuum of behavioral health services and high-quality patient care customized to meet the needs of each individual.

For more information about our levels of care and other therapy programs, call Legacy Healing Center today at 888-534-2295.