The Interrelation Between Mental Illness and Drug Addiction

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Words: 2036 |

Pages: 4|

11 min read

Published: Mar 1, 2019

Words: 2036|Pages: 4|11 min read

Published: Mar 1, 2019

In the book Dream Land, drug addiction and fatality were discussed regarding the heroin epidemic. However, little research was conducted on mental states and physical and mental addictions. Many medicines such as Adderall and Ritalin which are used for the treatment of mental disorders, just as pain medications were given for physical disorders in the book. However, these medications come with nasty side effects such as addiction and dependency for relief. Many arguments conclude that claim drugs cause mental illnesses, and others state that mental illnesses cause the need for drugs. Medication for mental illnesses can be just as addictive as the prescriptions in the novel Dreamland. Mental illness can both cause drug addiction, and addiction cause mental illness

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Drug use has significantly increased within the United States, and many other countries throughout the world. The novel showcased just that in the heroin epidemic. However, heroin is not the only drug that is being abused nationwide. Many individuals choose drugs for numerous reasons, whether it be to escape pain, or be the life of the party. The National Institution on Drug Abuse has showcased that in the year 2013, nearly 26.4 million Americans used illicit drugs. However, the number is expected to be much higher, since these are only the reported cases. This figure is nearly a 1.1 percent increase since the year of 2002 (National Institute on Drug Use, 2015). Although, this may seem insignificant, the number today is certainly higher than that.

It appears that not only has the drug problem increased, but so has the cases of mental illness in America. Since the year 1987, this figure has nearly doubled. Many claim, that this was due to the introduction of a drug called Prozac. During this time, nearly 6 million Americas were crippled by some sort of mental illness. After Prozac reached the markets, some 400 individuals a day were being diagnosed with one issue or another. After a review of scientific literature, this epidemic appears to be occurring due the drug-based paradigm of care. Such drug increases will amplify the likelihood that an individual will become chronically ill, which leads to severe psychiatric symptoms according to Whitaker (Whitaker, 2005).

When these types of drugs are prescribed to those with mental illnesses, they are claimed to help create balances serotonin and dopamine. However, according to Whitaker (2005) : “ However, this hypothesis-that the drugs balanced abnormal brain chemistry-never panned out. Although the public may still be told that the drugs normalize brain chemistry, the truth is that researchers did not find that people with schizophrenia had overactive dopamine systems (prior to being medicated), or that those diagnosed with depression suffered from abnormally low levels of serotonin or norephinephrine . As U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher acknowledged in his 1999 report on mental health, the causes of mental disorders " remain unknown" (Whitaker,2005).

This quote shows that not only are mental illnesses unable to be fully understood, but prescription pills are being administered, while showing little indication that they are helping or even needed. So why exactly are doctors prescribing medication that have both the potential to create psychiatric issues, or not even help patients? To that the answer is easy, because they’re making billions off such medications. In 2014, nearly 374 billion American dollars were spent on filling nearly 4.3 billion prescription bottles. This showcased a 13% increase since the year 2001 (Sifferlin,2015). As explained, prescription drugs, such as Adderall, Ritalin, and more recently, marijuana are being prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety, bipolar, depression, and ADHD.

These medications are not only addictive, but can have adverse effects on patients. Research found on marijuana use has indicated several psychiatric effects that left patients with heightened paranoia and delusion. Although, some patient’s results have been phenomenal with using this substance, other users simply cannot see any positive results. As Moore, et. al., claims, there are several different mechanisms of utilizing marijuana, smoking is amongst the riskiest. Herbal teas and lotions appear to be the safest. However, other considerations such as toxicity are rarely considered when discussing medical marijuana (Moore, et. al., 2007).

Just as these medications can cause mental disturbances, much evidence reveals, also, that non-compliance can also be an issue. As we have already discovered, some medications can be directly linked to causing depression, anxiety, and paranoia. However, little observation has been provided regarding previous drug abuse and mental illness. Luckily, Swartz, et. al. showcases what issues can occur when individuals who once used do not cooperate with taking their dosage of prescription pills in facilities. There was a high degree, of patients who responded very violently and aggressive to staff members, when they refused medication. These individuals were no longer addicted to drugs, however had a past issue with drugs was present. Most often, medical staff do not make aware of issues of past drug abuse, when in fact, these circumstances are noteworthy (Swartz et. al.,1998).

Patterson, in his article claimed there are several situational factors that determine individual’s situations. Since some 26.6% of individuals with mental illness abuse illicit drugs, according to a study conducted in 2012, these instances are unique. That is true, because some of the abuse is from medication, while some is from trying to self-medicate. Although, as learned earlier, the cases of mental illness are increasing within the United States, there are still many individuals who do not seek medical attention for their mental sicknesses. This is not only internally dangerous to themselves, but can also harm others as well. Since these individuals do not seek medical attention, they choose to ingest drugs of all sorts in hopes of alleviating symptoms. Since people have different effects from drugs, some feel relief of symptoms, whereas some feel intensely worse after drug use (Patterson, 2016).

For those who use such substances for self-medicating, there are specific medications that users prefer. As we saw in the Dream Land , heroin was utilized for pain tolerance after prescriptions were left unfilled. Heroin, is surprisingly, also utilized heavily for mental pains as well. Such as sadness, and self-hate, these drugs make people numb both physically and mentally, which is part of the reason they are so addictive. Both heroin and coke tend to be the leading drugs that make people feel numb to their pain According to Khantzian (1987) :“ Clearly, there are other determinants of addiction, but I believe a self-medication motive is one of the more compelling reasons for overuse of and dependency on drugs. Clinical findings based on psychoanalytic formulations have been consistent with and complemented by diagnostic and treatment studies that support this perspective, which, I believe, will enable researchers and clinicians to further understand and treat addictive behavior. Rather than simply seeking escape, euphoria, or self-destruction, addicts are attempting to medicate themselves for a range of psychiatric problems and painful emotional states” (Khantzian, p. 1263, 1987). Such findings back up my claim that drugs can both cause mental illness, and mental illness can also cause the need for drugs. This experiment also reveals, that childhood trauma can directly be linked to self-medicating in the future.

On the participants who were studied by Khantzian, many had issues of rage and violence before addiction even struck (Khantzian, 1987). This somewhat goes against the claims made previously by Swartz, et. al., since he claimed that previous addictions led to such violent outcomes more often than those without (Swartz et. al.,1998). Nonetheless, it is easy to conclude that those facing addiction can become extremely violent sporadically at any given time. This is especially true when addicts are going through withdrawal, as seen in several cases of these articles. These addicts should not be taken lightly in the facilities in which they reside. Rage and violence can be fatal, and as we can see, can be apparent in several situations.

Not only is facing such addictions and / or mental illnesses extremely difficult for individuals, however, so is the stigma such persons receive. Many people who have mental illness, also have the dual diagnosis of addiction as well. This study conducted by revealed that negative stigmas can provide positive outcomes in patients. For instance, the subjects were given negative comments on their addiction, which internalized strength and proactiveness to change these titles. There were approximately 84 men studied in this experiment whom all had double diagnoses of some sort of mental illness as well as a drug addiction. Each candidate was interviewed in separate times, one when they had both addiction and disorder, and once after the addiction has been treated. Many of these interviewed individuals faced addictions due to their mental states, however, some developed such issues to try and escape several of the harsh side effects that conclude from these mental disorders. Although, to some degree, these contestants positively reacted to stigma, others claimed it to be somewhat harsh. Stigma associated to drug addiction was far worse than stigma related to mental illness (Link, 1997).

Now that we can see the current issues in both addiction and the rise of mental illness, we must ask ourselves why does this matter. The simpler answer to this question would include that many are dying and suffering due to both complex issues. However, this is not the only reason we should care about such issues. These issues not only effect those who are directly involved in it, and their families, but also society and its individuals as well. Although, many people may not be aware of such problems, tax payers are the ones who are funding much of this epidemic. For instance, those who receive governmental medical insurance and have such prescriptions need taxpayer’s money to fund such prescriptions that are given towards relief of mental illness. These studies reveal that both cases cause extreme burdens to taxpayers as well as other societal members alike. Although, mental illness can somewhat not be provoked, as many findings have suggested, drug use can cause them. But, so can many other circumstances as well. Mental illness is faced by many people, of many races, ages, and classes. Not only are those utilizing drugs the only ones affected by the devastation of depression, anxiety, and paranoia. So, whether, you are directly facing mental illness, or addiction, you are still somehow involved. Such information should be enough of a concern, to reveal a need in the current scheme of things. Advocates are needed to develop alternative treatments to such issues. If not, this burden will not be lifted (Whiteford, et. al., 2013).

One way in which we can help, is by defining new strategies to help combat both issues. Amongst these alternatives, I have found a wonderful technique that alleviates mental illnesses, which is nutritional therapies. Lakhan, et. al. claims that prescriptions seem to be the most recommended treatment for those facing mental illness. The authors suggested that those suffering from problems such as depression and bipolar should not always be treated with medication, rather balanced diets that are highly nutritious. Most psychological conditions are occurring in the United States more than anywhere else in the world. America has nearly 26%, whereas countries such as China only have 4%. He claims there are certain supplements that can aid the symptoms of these disorders and these methods are less risky than typical medications. However, many doctors do not recommend these alternatives because they simply would lose money as we have learned above (Lakhan, et. al.,2008).

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In conclusion, enough evidence is present to understand that not only can mental illness cause drug addiction, but using drugs can also bring upon mental illness symptoms as well. Often, doctors prescribe such medications, in order to make money. Just as we have seen in the novel Dream Land. Many doctors in America, are not as concerned with patients, as they are their wallets. Such issues are occurring at alarming rates, and decisions on how to make changes in the medical arenas need to happen quickly. Those with mental illness and/or drug addictions deserve the best treatment to combat these issues, however, most receive much less than that, and more stigma than anything! Even if these problems are not close to home, we are all being burdened by it one way or another.

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The Interrelation Between Mental Illness and Drug Addiction. (2019, February 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
“The Interrelation Between Mental Illness and Drug Addiction.” GradesFixer, 27 Feb. 2019,
The Interrelation Between Mental Illness and Drug Addiction. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 Jun. 2024].
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