Substance Use and Mental Health
Drugs and Alcohol
Did you know that addiction to drugs or alcohol is a mental illness? Substance use disorder changes normal desires and priorities. It changes normal behaviors and interferes with the ability to work, go to school, and to have good relationships with friends and family. In 2014, 20.2 million adults in the U.S. had a substance use disorder and 7.9 million had both a substance use disorder and another mental illness. More than half of the people with both a substance use disorder and another mental illness were men (4.1 million). Having two illnesses at the same time is known as “comorbidity” and it can make treating each disorder more difficult.
Tobacco is another substance associated with addiction and health risks. It can be smoked, chewed or sniffed. However, the most common way people consume tobacco is by smoking cigarettes. Research has shown that adults with a mental illness are more likely to smoke cigarettes than other adults. This is particularly true among people with major depression and those diagnosed with schizophrenia. It is estimated that people with psychiatric disorders purchase approximately 44 percent of all cigarettes sold in the United States. Smoking is believed to be one reason that individuals with mental illnesses have more physical health problems and die younger than people without a mental illness.
- Brochures and Fact Sheets on a range of alcohol-related topics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
- Free Resources for parents and educators on drug abuse from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- Publications on a range of topics, including addiction science, medical consequences, trends and statistics, and the link between drugs and HIV/AIDS from NIDA
- Risks of Tobacco: Medline Plus – also en Español
- Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: Medline Plus – also en Español
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA):
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):
- National Cancer Institute (NCI):
- Smoking Quitline: 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848)
Research and Statistics
- Comorbidity: Addiction and other Mental Disorders (NIDA)
- Tobacco Use and Comorbidity (NIDA)
- 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (SAMHSA)
Last Revised: May 2016
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