The use of alcohol or drugs may not pose a significant problem if the use is controlled and moderate in frequency. However, use of drugs and excessive use or abuse of alcohol can be an independently occurring mental health disorder or a co-occurring disorder related to a number of other behavioral health issues.
Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
Alcoholism is a chronic and independently occurring disease in which an individual’s body has become dependent on alcohol. In order to be diagnosed with alcoholism, a person would need to be considered completely addicted to alcohol. One of the primary signs of addiction is the inability to control the amount of alcohol consumed when drinking. An individual may also be deemed an alcoholic if his or her work, relationships and finances suffer or deteriorate due to alcohol use.
An alcohol abuser may experience problems in his or her life due to use, but is not completely dependent upon the substance in order to function. Both alcoholism and alcohol abuse can be successfully treated with medications, counseling and self-help groups.
Drug Use and Drug Abuse
Although some drug use is temporary and social in nature, the use or abuse of drugs is commonly associated with other behavioral health issues. Like alcohol, drugs may be abused, meaning an individual’s use does not correspond to the intended use of the drug, and is excessive or problematic. An individual may also be addicted to drugs, in which case they cannot function normally without the use of one or more drugs due to their dependency on the given substance.
Relation to Other Behavioral Health Disorders
Use and abuse of drugs and alcohol can be related to a number of other behavioral health issues including:
When related to another existing behavioral health condition, alcohol and drug use may be employed as a coping mechanism to deal with the corresponding emotions.
For more information on alcohol or drug use, visit the Mayo Clinic.