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What is mental health and how does it affect addiction?

What is mental health? 

Mental health refers to a person’s emotional, social and psychological well-being. It has an effect on how we feel, act and think.

Furthermore, our mental state will determine how we make choices, handle stress and relate to others.

A healthy mental state is important from early on in life, all the way through to adulthood.

Mental Health and Addiction

Mental health issues

When developing problems with your mental state, your behaviour, moods and thinking are negatively affected.

This impacts your ability to function with ease in your day to day life.

What causes mental health problems?

Although the exact cause of mental health issues is not known, the following are considered contributing factors:


  • Infections which have caused brain damage
  • Heredity (genetics)
  • Brain injury or defects
  • Prenatal damage (trauma in utero or during birth)
  • Trauma
  • Substance abuse
  • Prolonged poor nutrition


Types of mental illness


  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder


Signs of mental health issues


  • Having little or no energy
  • Unexplained pain
  • Feeling detached
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Difficulty in completing day to day tasks or activities
  • Eating or sleeping too little or too much
  • Substance abuse


Importance of mental health

Having a healthy mental state will allow a person to:


  • Cope with daily stresses
  • Be productive and feel motivated
  • Realise their potential and believe in themselves
  • Maintain healthy relationships
  • Make positive life choices
  • Maintain physical health and well-being


Mental health and addiction

As with most dual diagnosis situations, mental health issues and addiction are very closely related to each other.

Usually, substance abuse comes as a result of mental illness because the person is looking for a way to numb the feelings or silence the thoughts they experience due to their condition and therefore turn to some or other substance.

However, mental illness can often be a result of prolonged substance abuse which ultimately alters the chemicals in the brain, causing some form of mental illness.

As a dual diagnosis, patients who are undergoing addiction recovery, should be treated for the relevant mental illness at the same time.

Step Away Rehabilitation Centre South Africa

We understand the connection between mental health and addiction. Our programmes are designed to treat addiction holistically and compassionately. Contact us for more information about our dual diagnosis treatment programmes.

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