Mental Illness and Addiction


According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 43.6 million (18.1%) adult Americans have suffered from some form of mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, and over 20 million have a substance use disorder. Within these two figures, 7.9 million adult Americans have suffered from both a mental illness and a substance use disorder at the same time. The Anxiety and Depression Association of American states that 20% of Americans who experience an anxiety or mood disorder also have a substance use disorder.

Individuals who suffer from a substance use disorder could experience mental health symptoms as a result of continuously using that substance. These symptoms can include depression, irritability, anxiety, sleep issues, and paranoia. However, some individuals use substances to self-medicate these symptoms. These mood-altering substances might provide a short-term escape to avoid dealing with the unbearable distress.

It has been found the environmental factors play a role in the development of mental illness and substance use. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network stated that more than 70% of adolescents who are receiving substance abuse treatment showed a history of trauma exposure. Trauma exposure can include difficulties in school or friendship, bullying, poverty, medical illness, family issues, and neglect, all of which can lead to a mental disorder.

Turning to alcohol is a common response when dealing with a mental illness. Those who decide to drink do so as a way of coping with their problems or escaping from reality. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of making a mental health disorder worse. However, some conditions are more likely to happen with alcohol use disorder, including mood disorders. A study done in BioMed Central journal found that more than 25% of people with major depression can develop a drinking problem and more than 40% of people with bipolar disorder can develop a drinking problem.


It has been studied that alcohol and depression have a causal relationship, meaning one condition doubles the risk of developing the other. Lightening their mood or getting rid of the constant feeling of sadness are just a couple of reasons why individuals turn to drinking. However, little may they know, alcohol is a depressant and therefore blocks stress hormones and lowers mood-regulating chemicals in the brain, possibly causing more sadness.


About 1 in 5 Americans suffer from anxiety. It is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or fear regarding a certain event or situation. Anxiety is normal reaction to stress and a part of life; however, it can evolve into a mental health disorder that may keep you from having a normal life and taking part in your daily activities.

Alcohol may seem like the solution to some individuals. It can make you feel relaxed for a temporary amount of time and increase your confidence, but prolonged drinking makes anxiety even worse. A study done at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine showed that drinking can rewire your brain, causing you to be more vulnerable to developing anxiety disorders.

Mental illness and addiction can wreak havoc on an individual’s life. Not only can they individually cause issues, but suffering from a mental illness and an addiction disorder together can be devastating. Scientists believe that TMS can help treat not only depression but also the addiction to alcohol. If you or a loved one suffer from either one, give Gateway TMS a call so we can help you get to feeling like yourself again.