The Link Between Prevention and Mental Health


There are many comorbidities and risk factors to having a mental illness or struggling with mental health. Some may turn to substance abuse in order to deal with their day-to-day difficulties with mental health while others face the urge to self-harm. Dealing with mental health diagnoses on top of substance abuse issues isn't easy to treat and prevention should be a top priority among those with a mental health diagnosis. Here's the link between prevention and mental health.

Substance abuse prevention and mental health

Studies show it's often possible to have a dual diagnosis of both a substance use disorder (SDU) and a mental health disorder. Data shows there's a high comorbidity rate between SDU's and anxiety disorders in particular, including panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Depression and bipolar disorders also tend to co-occur at high levels alongside SDUs. Additionally, those with schizophrenia tend to have higher levels of alcohol, tobacco and other drug usage than the general population.

There are various reasons in whether a mental health or substance abuse diagnosis may come first:

  • Alcohol and drugs may be used to self-medicate a mental health disorder. This usually tends to be more harmful than helpful in the long run as it can worsen the symptoms sufferers are trying to get relief from.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse may be a part of the underlying factors that cause a mental health disorder. There is no way to say for certain drugs or alcohol abuse cause a mental health disorder outright because of the interplay between environmental, genetic and other sources in mental disorders. However, someone utilizing drugs or alcohol with risk of a mental health disorder may cause them to be pushed over the edge and have a mental health episode.
  • Substance abuse could make a mental health disorder worse, meaning it could trigger new symptoms or cause current symptoms to worsen. Drugs and alcohol can also interact with medications one may be taking for their mental disorder which can cause them to be less effective or even harmful. 

Suicide prevention and mental health

Data from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health states suicides account for more than 1.4% of worldwide deaths. Studies show that the number of people suffering from mental disorders who commit suicide could be up to 90%. Efforts to prevent suicides often rely on the sufferer sharing their suicidal ideation with another person, the first step in the suicidal process. However, there are those who suffer from mental health disorders as well as suicidal ideations who don't have many contacts or friends they feel they can share this information with, hindering prevention. Additionally, some suicides happen without prior warning or one that's not noticeable to loved ones. Data also shows those with comorbid disorders, such as SDU and depression, are associated with a higher suicide risk.

The first step to preventing substance use disorder and suicide is education. Wellspring Prevention Center's school-based prevention programs offer a variety of courses that assist children and young adults to resist alcohol and drug abuse while improving life skills and creating positive experiences.

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