Does Substance misuse always co-occur with other mental health disorders?

Mental health illnesses often require some kind of medication to relieve the symptoms. Now those medicinal drugs can be misused or abused by the affected person. Before knowing about the co-occurrence of substance misuse, let us understand the difference between substance misuse and abuse is. Food and Drug Administration defines Substance Misuse as “behaviours or patterns involving not following prescriptions, taking incorrect dosage or taking it at incorrect timings, stopping medicine before any doctor’s orders. But the case is different for Substance abuse. People abuse a prescribed drug for their recreational purposes, which means they want to “get high”. Normally, substance abuse occurs when the drug is being taken in a higher dose than it is prescribed.

But what is common among both the medical issues: They have the same potential harmful effects on the physical and psychological well-being. Many times, substance misuse gets unnoticed or misdiagnosed as substance abuse with serious mental illnesses. According to the National Drug association, substance misuse and abuse co-occur with majorly depression, bipolar disorders, ADHD, ASD, schizophrenia, PTSD, few personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder.

Substance misuse co-occurs with mental health disorders due to some determinants or risk factors which makes it susceptible for the affected person to misuse or even abuse the prescribed drugs. Following are few factors which make the affected person prone to substance misuse or abuse:

  1. Biological factors: In this factor, the person may tend to misuse substances due to the family history. Hereditary plays a role in the understanding of acquired traits, especially drug use and addiction, as the neural pathways of an addict become quite prevalent such that they can be inherited.

  2. Neurological deficits: Majorly, we observe substance misuse in patients with ADHD or bipolar disorders where highly stimulating or destabilizing drugs are being prescribed. These drugs are quite addictive as given in many review papers. Because of prior neurological deficits, it is harder to avoid substance misuse or abuse.

  3. Specificity of the illness: Due to the severity and specificity of the illness, the drug therapeutic intervention is quite tedious and it makes the addictive nature of the drug stronger. In psychiatric illnesses such as personality disorders (schizotypal, schizoid, borderline), schizophrenia and its types, and some mood disorders with manic episodes.

  4. Psychosocial risk factors: These factors are widely common in the younger population, especially adolescents and young adults. There are so many issues such as body dysphoria, self-esteem, social status, peer pressure, curiosity etc. they have to deal with that the susceptibility to substance misuse and even abuse becomes higher when they are the most vulnerable. Other socio-economic factors like poverty, unemployment, family disputes, violent and abusive environment are crucial in understanding and treating substance misuse and abuse.

  5. Personal factors: It has been reported that those who had been misusing or abusing their prescribed drugs have personal reasons which motivate them to continue the drug use. Many are vulnerable and have reported that they wanted to stay happy or elated, to relax or to know how it feels to be high, to reduce negative emotions etc.

People with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance misuse harm their overall health and well-being. Below are given few negative side effects people with substance misuse have to go through:

  • They are more vulnerable to rehospitalization and rehabilitation

  • They suffer from major depressive disorder, which most of the times leads to greater suicide rates.

  • Violence and non-conducive nature increase hence increased criminal offences.

  • Increased chances of HIV infection

  • Due to severe damages, there will be higher service costs.

How Addcounsel can assist you with this issue:

Addcounsel Rehab gives comprehensive treatment to anyone with substance misuse or abuse. We believe that each client has a distinct set of symptoms and require individualized care services. With an excellent team of diverse professionals, there is no doubt in saying your substance misuse/abuse situation will be handled with utter diligence and personalized care.

Substance misuse is as serious as drug addiction is and it is crucial to get it checked and treated.

Addcounsel has a 24/7 personalized care service that will help you recover and beat this illness with the highest capacity. An effective intervention considers all the factors that can impact a person’s current condition. Substance misuse can be caused by a combination of numerous factors such as neurobiological, emotional, socio-cultural and family history. Addcounsel Rehab gives each factor equal consideration while formulating the best treatment plan for the affected person.


  1. Laudet, A. B., Magura, S., Vogel, H. S., & Knight, E. L. (2004). Perceived reasons for substance misuse among persons with a psychiatric disorder. The American journal of orthopsychiatry, 74(3), 365–375.




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