Drug use and mental health

Taking care of your mental health

Mental health, trauma and opioids

Drug use and mental health are linked in a complicated way.

In some cases, the use of drugs can affect a person’s mental health and, in others, vice versa: mental ill-health may contribute to how and why a person uses drugs – whether prescription or otherwise.

Traumatic, extremely upsetting experiences (especially in childhood) can contribute to a person taking drugs.

For some people, emotional or psychological suffering may be hard to separate from physical pain. Opioids produce a pleasant feeling (‘euphoria’) so some people may take them to deal with psychological or emotional pain. This should be avoided.

If you’re taking medication for your mental health, make sure you tell your doctor this before beginning any other medications. Opioids can be harmful if taken with some mental health medications such as antidepressants or other sedatives.

Even if you’re not taking medication for your mental health, it’s important that your doctor knows your mental health history before they begin prescribing medications like opioids and other medications that may be risky for your mental health. If you’re seeing a mental health professional, it’s important to be honest about any medications or drugs you may be using and their effect on you.