Lesson 5 Drug or Substance Abuse/Addiction

The use of the legal substances tobacco and alcohol continues to pose a particularly high health risk. Estimates from the 2010 Global Burden of Disease study show that tobacco and alcohol use, along with hypertension, are among the top three risk factors for the development of disease worldwide. The use of illicit drugs also poses a significant risk of physical, psychological, and social harm to the user and their loved ones. In addition, problematic use of psychoactive medications is an often underestimated problem, especially among older adults. The results of the supplementary mental health survey conducted as part of the first wave of the DEGS show that substance-related disorders are the most prevalent mental disorders among adults after anxiety and depressive disorders.

If you can no longer do without drugs or other substances and are thus restricted in your thoughts and actions, you are said to be addicted. According to ICD 10, addiction is a mental illness.

Effects of substance/drug use include relaxation, euphoria, social attention, stress reduction, general stimulation or reduction of anxiety, feeling more productive or creative, and elevated self-esteem. 

So it stands to reason that this experienced discrepancy between real and ideal feelings about life should also be consciously evoked in mental illness. Affected persons often use substances as a means of substance abuse with which they can endure or briefly improve the experience. In this context, drugs are used to regulate the state of mind or affect. 

The long-term consequences of drug consumption, such as addiction, financial indebtedness, loss of function, and crime cannot go unmentioned. Short-term symptom relief may occur, but the mental disorder requires professional treatment and cannot be self-managed or alleviated by substance use.