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Drugs, alcohol and mental health

There can be strong relationships between emotional and mental health and drug use, but it isn’t always direct or simple.

You may have heard or read something like: smoking weed causes schizophrenia or ice makes you paranoid. The truth is much more complicated.

Drugs can change the way you feel, which is one of the reasons people use them. So it isn’t surprising that there can be links between using substances and your brain health and wellbeing.

Common connections

• People using drugs to feel better when they are distressed, feel down, or have mental health concerns.
• People feel down and distressed because they use drugs or as a result of using drugs.
• Sometimes the relationship is more complex where drugs may help to relieve mental health concerns in the short term but add to them later or over time.
• For some people there is no relationship between the two.

There is research that says certain drugs can sometimes make existing mental health issues worse. For example, people who already experience psychosis and then use cannabis could find their symptoms become more severe. Understanding how your substance use and your mental health relate to each other can be helpful. Taking time to think about your mental health, emotions, moods and feelings at the same time as your drug use can be a way to see if there are any patterns of links