Substance abuse and mental health are interconnected in significant ways, leading to adverse effects that impact many people and families across the world. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 7.7 million individuals suffer from both mental health and substance abuse problems. The number is staggering, and it raises concerns about the extent of the issue and the need for increased public awareness about the interplay between mental health and substance abuse.
With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, it presents an excellent opportunity to educate individuals on the relationship between substance abuse and mental health problems. Having a clear understanding of the correlation between the two is critical in helping those who struggle with such issues. Furthermore, it is essential to know how to recognize and access the necessary help and resources for mental health and substance abuse concerns.
The History of Mental Health Awareness Month
Each May since 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed. Typically, the month is accompanied by media spotlights, local events, and movies across the country.
The month is coordinated by the Mental Health America organization. Each year, Mental Health Awareness Month has a theme. This year, the theme is anxiety. There are many different types of anxiety, and individuals with anxiety may also develop substance abuse concerns.
National Prevention Week - May 7 to May 13
National Prevention Week is also recognized from May 7 to May 13. This week emphasizes the significance of preventive health care, especially when addressing mental health issues. Regular check-ups with primary care doctors and mental health professionals are a proactive step in detecting potential underlying mental health issues that may exacerbate if left untreated. It is essential to identify and address these concerns promptly to take charge of your well-being physically and mentally. By prioritizing self-care and mental health care, you can live life as your true self, free from unnecessary stressors or hindrances. Take control of your health, and ensure you maintain a happy and healthy life.
Anxiety & Co-Occurring Disorders
This year, the theme for Mental Health Awareness Month is anxiety. An anxiety disorder can make it very difficult for someone to complete their daily routine. Individuals with anxiety disorders may develop intense, persistent, and excessive fear or worry about everyday situations. There are even some people who may develop panic attacks. There is also a strong relationship between anxiety disorders and substance abuse disorders
Types of Anxiety and Substance Abuse Disorders
There are several common types of anxiety disorders. They include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders that people have. GAD causes people to have a relatively consistent level of anxiety that persists in the background, and it could get in the way of their activities of daily living.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: Some people suffer from a social anxiety disorder. This is a type of social phobia that causes people to develop symptoms of anxiety whenever they are exposed to social situations.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder: Individuals can also develop a separation anxiety disorder. This refers to anxiety that people develop whenever they are alone for an extended amount of time.
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These are just a few of the many types of anxiety disorders that someone might experience. In addition, many people cope with anxiety issues using recreational or illicit substances. A few examples include:
- Alcohol: Alcohol is a common way that people cope with anxiety. in the beginning, some people with anxiety will drink to reduce their fears and take their minds off of their stresses. Even though alcohol may make people feel more relaxed, it will actually contribute to more anxiety in the long run, as alcohol has a negative impact on other parts of people’s lives.
- Stimulants: Some people with anxiety will also take stimulant medications, believing that they will make it easier to focus. Instead, stimulants can actually make anxiety worse, as they could increase your heart rate and contribute to problems sleeping. These issues will lead to more stress, making anxiety worse.
- Marijuana: People with anxiety also frequently use marijuana as a way to relax; however, marijuana can also make anxiety worse. Marijuana can make it hard for people to focus on everything they need to do during the day, leading to a lot of stress later. This stress can contribute to worsening anxiety.
These are just a few examples of the way substance abuse concerns and anxiety go hand in hand. Instead of relying on substances to cope with anxiety, it is crucial for everyone with anxiety concerns to reach out to a mental health professional who can create a comprehensive treatment plan.
How To Participate In Mental Health Awareness Month
Mental Health Awareness Month is one of the best times for people to learn more about the relationship between substance abuse concerns and mental health issues, including anxiety. Some of the top ways you can participate this year include:
- Host a Community Event: Consider hosting a community event where you can educate everyone about mental health issues and substance abuse concerns. You may want to consider reaching out to a few experts and survivors who can share their stories and experiences.
- Share Your Story With #MyPreventionStory: If you or someone in your family has a history of substance abuse issues or mental health concerns, you may also want to share your story with others. Shining a light on mental health issues is a great way to encourage people to get help and invest in preventative care.
- Organize a Fundraiser: If there is a nonprofit organization in your area that provides outreach opportunities and social support for people with a history of mental health or substance abuse issues, you may want to organize a fundraiser. This is one of the best ways to create a stronger support system in your local community for people with a history of mental health or substance abuse issues.
Do not forget to encourage people to reach out and ask for help when they need it.
At Riverside Recovery, we are proud to provide you with access to some of the top substance abuse treatment professionals in Tampa, and we can help you or your loved one overcome your substance abuse issues as well. Our goal is to provide you with an environment where you can focus solely on your recovery, and we will provide you with the tools you need to remain sober once you leave. Contact us today to speak to a member of our team.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse– Comorbidity: Substance Use and Other Mental Disorders
- Munir S, Takov V. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. [Updated 2022 Oct 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441870/
- National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). Social Anxiety Disorder: Recognition, Assessment and Treatment. Leicester (UK): British Psychological Society (UK); 2013. (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 159.) 2, SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK327674/
- Feriante J, Torrico TJ, Bernstein B. Separation Anxiety Disorder. [Updated 2023 Feb 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560793/
- Nochaiwong, S., Ruengorn, C., Thavorn, K., Hutton, B., Awiphan, R., Phosuya, C., Ruanta, Y., Wongpakaran, N., & Wongpakaran, T. (2020). Global prevalence of mental health issues among the general population during the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Scientific Reports, 11. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-89700-8