What is the difference (if any) between Addiction and Mental Health ? Is one part of the other ?

I think there is a lot of confusion between Addiction and Mental Health. I myself have a hard time to associate or differentiate the 2. One might trigger the other one. I don’t know yet. I am curious to read the thinking of my fellow members.

Input please.

Thank you.

Super User Asked on September 4, 2018 in Mental Health.
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4 Answer(s)

Thank you @Olivier for sharing this with us. Differentiating between Addiction and Mental Health sounds simpler that it actually is as addiction is attributed to mental health. But to give my own point of view:

Addiction as discussed in some threads earlier in @OkidaCharles’ question Why is it so hard to quit drugs? We saw that addiction comes as a result of over dependence  on certain things for daily operation like food, drugs, gambling, alcohol, sex, etc triggered by certain events in life. In this case however, it’s true that the most worrying and most devastating addiction cases of the day today in most Americans and the world over are drugs and alcohol. The other addictions constitute a small number of people and may not be as catastrophic as the drug and alcohol addictions.  For someone addicted to these, they can neither perform to their full potential nor live peacefully until they have satisfied their innermost cravings for drugs and alcohol. The addiction case distorts their well being, day to day operation, social life, family management and so on. Continued use makes such a person feel in control while alcohol and drugs keep draining their health status and expediting mental deterioration. And both Using and not Using the addictive substances still renders the addict unstable. I believe this is what makes treatment of addiction a long term and tedious process that requires a special kind of commitment for both the doctors and the patient.

Mental Health on the other hand according to mentalhealth.gov “includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.” Which implies that a perfectly normal person with 100% good mental health should be able to act “normal”, that is run his job optimally, handle his family (wife/husband and children, or relatives) responsibly providing and caring for them, reason normally in critical matters, be able to operate without use of substances, and be socially connected to “normal” people. And the Addict on the other hand, cannot for instance work efficiently without substance use, while continued use reduces their efficiency over time.

I hope this shades some light into the question, and I also ask other members to contribute their thoughts too. Thank you!


Moderator Answered on September 4, 2018.
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The Moderator makes good points on Addiction, but I would like to elaborate more on Mental Health. Mental health is a very broad term.

Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Early Warning Signs

If you are not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or other
  • Inability to get to work or inability to go to school

Mental wellbeing: (summarizing from @Moderator’s answer)

Positive mental health allows someone  to:

  • Realize their full potential
  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Work productively
  • Make meaningful contributions to their communities

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

  • Getting professional help if you need it
  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills

I hope this helps someone!

Regular User Answered on September 4, 2018.
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Thank you both Moderator and OkidaCharles. Everything you both said make total sense. I am a little bit confused about the “Early Warning Signs” mentioned by OkidaCharles because I assume everyone experienced at least one of the  warning signs mentioned through the course of life. So it confirms my thinking that each one of us will experience mental health issues through life. Am I wrong ?

Super User Answered on September 4, 2018.
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Apparently, mental problems affect us all 🙁 . The good news is that whatsoever probable ultimate results depend on what we do next. Whether we keep feeding the triggers of our mental disturbances or watch out for the signs and start to do things differently is important in determining whether the mental challenges we all face will turn into a severe disorder/disorientation that may require serious treatment or even result into total mental meltdown or if the mild mental challenges we face will be alleviated with rejuvenating practice so we can get back to normal operation.

I think what we can take away from here is that, it’s not a good idea to undermine the “Early Warning Signs”. They may be warning us of something very serious about our mental health.

Moderator Answered on September 4, 2018.
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