How do drugs and alcohol affect mental health?
In this section we have listed some of the different types of substances that could have an impact on your mental health. Please be aware that this list is not a list of all substances.
Taking any substances can be dangerous. They can also have bad interactions with any medications or other substances you might use.
For more information on different substances you can visit the website of ‘Talk to Frank’. They are a specialist charity that provides information on drugs. You can find their website here: www.talktofrank.com/
(Also known as: bud, bhang, dope, draw, ganja, grass, hash, herb, marijuana, pot, skunk, weed)
Cannabis is one of the most commonly used drugs in England. According to one study, 1 in 13 people aged 16-59 had used it in the last year. Young people aged 16-24 are more ly to use cannabis. The same study shows that just under 1 in 5 young people had used cannabis between 2018 and 2019.
Some people take cannabis because it makes them feel relaxed or happy, but It can also make you feel anxious or feel paranoid. Some people may experience things that aren't real. This is a sign of drug-induced psychosis. Some studies have shown that the risk of psychosis may be higher if you:
- use cannabis for a long time,
- use it frequently, and
- use ‘high-strength’ cannabis, skunk.
If you have been using cannabis and you feel that it is affecting your health, make an appointment to see your GP as soon as you can. Your doctor should not judge you and should not tell other people you use drugs.
(Also known as: bevvies, booze)
Some people with a mental illness have problems using alcohol. Alcohol is legal, which means it is easier to get. It can make the feelings of some mental health issues feel worse.
The long-term effects of alcohol also depend on how much you drink, and how regularly you drink it. If you drink too much on a regular basis then you could cause yourself serious physical and mental harm.
Drinking can make you do something you would not normally do. This can include self-harm and suicide. Very high levels of alcohol can cause psychosis.
New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)
(Also known as: PlantFood, NPS, Mdat, Eric 3, Dimethocaine and Bath salts).
These are drugs that contain one or more chemical substance. They produce effects that are similar to cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy.
Some of the drugs classed as NPS used to be known as ‘legal highs’. This is a common term that people use. It is used because some NPS were legal before 2016. However, the name is now wrong, because since 2016 they have been made illegal.
The short-term effects of an NPS depend on what you take.
Some new psychoactive drugs can cause confusion and a feeling of panic. You can also have hallucinations. This is when you see, smell, hear or feel things that other people don’t. Hallucinations can affect the way you behave. Your behaviour can become erratic and can put your own safety at serious risk.
These drugs can also affect your judgement, which could put you at risk.
Some NPS can be very dangerous. They can kill you or hurt you very badly. There is a higher risk of this if taken with alcohol or other psychoactive drugs.
Amphetamine and methamphetamine
(Also known as: Crystal Meth, Ice, Meth, Glass, Whizz, Speed, Billy, Base, Yaba, Tina and Christine)
In the short-term, these drugs can make you feel wide awake and alert. This can make it difficult for you to relax or get to sleep. They might cause you to have a drug-induced psychosis. In the long-term, amphetamines might make you anxious and depressed. They can also be addictive.
When you stop taking the drug, you may feel depressed and you might find it hard to sleep.
(Also known as: Benzos, Blues, Downers, Roofies, Vallies, Diazepam, Rohypnol, Valium, Xanax)
Benzodiazepines are a type of tranquilisers. They are used to treat anxiety. They are also used as a muscle relaxant. Sometimes a doctor will tell you to take benzodiazepines to help you with anxiety. But people also buy them illegally because of their relaxing effects. They can be addictive, and so doctors only give them for a short time.
In the short-term, these drugs can make you feel calmer. Depending on the type you take, they could make you feel confused or overly sleepy.
Taking benzodiazepines with other drugs or alcohol can be dangerous. It can affect your breathing. It can also increase the risk of overdose and death.
In the long-term, some people become addicted. This can have a big effect on their day-to-day life.
You can find more information on ‘Benzodiazepines’ by clicking here.
(Also known as: Blow, Crack, Coke, Charlie, Chang, Freebase, Sniff, Snow)
In the short-term, cocaine can make you feel awake, talkative and confident. After this wears off, you can feel tired and depressed after taking it.
In the long-term, cocaine use can affect how you feel. It can affect your relationships with friends and family. Cocaine is also addictive and over time you are more ly to have ongoing problems with depression, paranoia or anxiety.
Cocaine can cause fits, heart attacks and strokes. If you mix it with some other drugs you are more ly to overdose or die.
(Also known as: E, MDMA, MD, Molly, Pills, XTC)
In the short-term, ecstasy may make you feel energetic, very happy, chatty and confident. It can also sometimes make you feel anxious, confused or trigger drug-induced psychosis.
In the long-term, ecstasy use can lead to memory problems. You may also develop depression and anxiety.
(Also known as: Brown, Gear, H, Smack, Skag)
In the short-term, heroin can make you feel relaxed and happy. It takes away pain and can make you feel sleepy. But there is a higher risk that you could take too much or overdose with heroin than some other drugs.
Heroin can be taken in lots of different ways, including by injection. However, there is a high risk of getting an infection if you inject heroin, particularly if you share needles with someone else.
Heroin is very addictive. It can have serious long-term effects. You may feel that heroin becomes more important than other things in your life. This might make it harder to keep a job and affect your relationships.
(Also known as: Acid, Blotter, Trips, Micro-dot)
In the short-term, LSD may make you experience things that aren't real. Sometimes the experience will be enjoyable, and sometimes it will be frightening. This is known as a bad trip.
If you have a history of mental health problems taking LSD can make it worse. If you panic during a trip on LSD it can be scary. LSD may also trigger mental health problems which you haven’t experienced before.