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  1.  Relationship between substance abuse and mental illness


    Does a relationship between substance abuse and mental illness and anti-social behaviour exist? Discuss. 


Subject Drug Abuse Pages 6 Style APA


Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) are among the recognized and most common mental disorders. Individuals with the ASPD condition have a consistent pattern of manipulative conducts that often contravene social norms, impair or damage relationships, and encroach upon aspects of other individual’s rights (Choi et al., 2016). Some psychological healthcare experts associate ASPD with the existence of a psychopathic trait, whereas others hold the view that ASPD and psychopathic trait disorders are distinct to each other (Wilkinson et al., 2016). Most people with antisocial trait abuse alcohol and/or drugs, while most people with substance abuse challenges exhibit ASPD signs (Choi et al., 2016). Similarly, MDD is linked to a number of psychological implications, including but not limited to poor life quality, role impairment, and suicidal risks (Lo et al., 2019). Owing to these negative results, depression has been a significant area of focus of mental intervention and preservation efforts, especially in youth. Risk factors linked to higher degrees of depressive signs in early adulthood and adolescence, include low socioeconomic status, conduct or delinquency challenges, cigarette smoking, along with other substance use and abuse (Wilkinson et al., 2016). Ekpang and Abuo (2015) add that in the U.S., MDD has been associated both with alcohol use disorders (AUDs), other substance use disorders (SUDs), conduct disorder (CD), and antisocial personality challenges (O’Brien et al., 2018). It is against this background that this paper aims at proving the existence of a relationship between substance abuse, antisocial behaviour, and mental illness in people.

Studies continue to reveal a relationship between antisocial behaviours, substance use and abuse, and mental illness/disorder. According to a study at was conducted in a U.S. university, 90% of the individuals who had ASPD abused alcohol or drugs (Choi et al., 2016). Regardless of whether the cases were tested or not, 40-50% of all individuals in substance abuse treatment plans were found to have significant ASPD signs and symptoms to verify personality diagnosis (Brockie et al., 2015). Ekpang and Abuo (2015) note that the simultaneous existence of ASPD and substance abuse is referred to as comorbidity, a term employed to refer to the existence of at least two health conditions along with an interaction between those conditions that intensity or change their impacts upon the body (Evans et al., 2016). In the case of alcohol and drug abuse, individuals with ASPD have the tendency of beginning to abuse the substance of their choice at tender ages compared to individuals who do not have the disorder (O’Brien et al., 2018). Similarly, substance abusers living with ASPD develop severe abuse-associated challenges faster compared to abusers without ASPD, also developing extra damaging kinds of these challenges (Wilkinson et al., 2016). Lo et al. (2019) add that substance abuse is commonplace among people suffering from ASPD, a disorder that emerges with poor control of impulses, leading the individuals to participate in more dangerous conducts compared to individuals without ASPD (Choi et al., 2016). These conducts include sharing sharp objects (like needles and razor blades) with other people, exposing the individuals to hepatitis or HIV since struggling people do not believe that various principles of life apply to them and are not concerned with the danger that that could bring about to their individual bodies (Lo et al., 2019). ASPD patients’ complete denial regarding their addiction or challenges raises the length and intensity of substance abuse.

Further, studies equally show associations between antisocial behaviours and depressive symptoms. Ekpang and Abuo (2015) established that adults with adolescent onset as well as life course insistent antisocial conduct exhibited by individuals elevates the rates of their depressive symptoms. Brockie et al. (2015) explain that antisocial behaviour and SUDs are usually chronic conditions, and each has been shown to increase an individual’s depressive level (Lo et al., 2019). O’Brien et al. (2018) found out that depression trajectories are linked with trauma exposure, female sex, previous psychiatric hospitalization, as well as a fundamental MDD diagnosis, whereas severe depression trajectories are linked to SUDs/AUDs. According to a study by Choi et al. (2016), it was established that after regulating antisocial propensity, demographic, and parental criminality factors young adults who previously exhibited chronic high-degree offenders had greater degrees of depressive signs relative to young adults in three trajectories: decreasing low-level, very rare, and reducing high-level offenders.

From the above highlighted studies, it is evident that drug use has the influence of increasing symptoms of ASPD, creating a restriction to positive treatment results when only concentrating upon the personality disorder. Should ASPD symptoms be minimized during medications or therapy treatments, there are greater chances of the symptoms reappearing if an individual is abusing drugs (O’Brien et al., 2018). The use of drug ignites symptoms of aggression, belligerence, and lack of impulse, thus hindering any room of treatment except the drug use is as well treated.  For individuals with ASPD and MDD and are struggling with substance abuse, it can be a great struggle to get through a whole alcohol or drug treatment with no management of the individual’s personality disorder. According to Lo et al. (2019), abuse of alcohol is among the most frequent types of addiction found in people with ASPD and MDD, with alcohol causing such individuals to show violent and more aggressive behaviours. Wilkinson et al. (2016) add that a combination of ASPD and alcohol is linked with: extra severe disorders, high chances of negative long term drinking, reduced treatment efficacy, high criminal activity rate, and high degrees of thrill-seeking conduct and impulsivity.

Not only do ASPD and MDD patients abuse alcohol alone, but they also abuse other drugs. Individual with MDD and ASPD exhibit a continued use of marijuana, stimulants (like cocaine, energy drinks, nicotine, and Benzedrine), which use may intensify an already-existing impulse behavior, mood disturbance, and aggression that is often seen in the patients (Evans et al., 2016). Evans et al. (2016) contend that most people diagnosed with SUD are equally diagnosed with mental/psychological disorders, and the reverse is true. A study by Lo et al. (2019) revealed that about 50% of those experience a psychological illness in their lives will equally experience a SUD and the reverse holds (Brockie et al., 2015). While there are little studies regarding comorbidity among young people, studies show that adolescents with SUDs have high co-occurring rates of psychological sickness; 60% of adolescents in community-based SUD treatment plans equally meet diagnostic criterion for another psychological illness (Evans et al., 2016). 

Additionally, statistics shows that high anxiety disorders and comorbid SUDs rates, which include panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic disorder (O’Brien et al., 2018). SUDs equally occur at high prevalence with psychological disorders, like bipolar disorder and depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and psychotic illness (Brockie et al., 2015). Evans et al. (2016) add that patients with schizophrenia have greater tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use disorders rates compared to the general population (O’Brien et al., 2018). Thus, there is a relationship between mental illness, antisocial behaviours, and substance use.

To conclude, from the foregoing, it is indisputably vivid that there is a powerful relationship between substance use and abuse, antisocial behaviour, and mental illness. The study has shown that individuals with CD and SUD are more prone to depression when their antisocial conducts persist during their life cycle.  Substance use and abuse, antisocial behavior, and aggressive and impulsive personality traits usually co-occur, resulting in a coherent spectrum of psychopathology and personality. Among the mental disorders associated with ASPD and MDD (two mental disorders that were chosen for this study to help understand the relationship) include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, along with other mental disorders that result in severe impairment.





Brockie, T. N., Dana-Sacco, G., Wallen, G. R., Wilcox, H. C., & Campbell, J. C. (2015). The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to PTSD, Depression, Poly-Drug Use and Suicide Attempt in Reservation-Based Native American Adolescents and Young Adults. American journal of community psychology, 55(3-4), 411–421. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-015-9721-3
Choi, T. K., Worley, M. J., Trim, R. S., Howard, D., Brown, S. A., Hopfer, C. J., Hewitt, J. K., & Wall, T. L. (2016). Effect of adolescent substance use and antisocial behavior on the development of early adulthood depression. Psychiatry research, 238, 143–149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2016.02.036
Ekpang, P.U., & Abuo, C. (2015). Relationship between Drug Abuse and Psychosocial Behaviours among Adolescents’ in Senior Secondary Schools in Cross River State, Nigeria – Counseling Interventions. European Journal of Business and Management, 7(36), 151-159.
Evans, C. B., Cotter, K. L., Rose, R. A., & Smokowski, P. R. (2016). Substance use in rural adolescents: The impact of social capital, anti-social capital, and social capital deprivation. Journal of addictive diseases, 35(4), 244–257. https://doi.org/10.1080/10550887.2016.1171671
Lo, T. W., Tse, J., Cheng, C., & Chan, G. (2019). The Association between Substance Abuse and Sexual Misconduct among Macau Youths. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(9), 1643. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16091643
O’Brien, K. S., Forrest, W., Greenlees, I., Rhind, D., Jowett, S., Pinsky, I., Espelt, A., Bosque-Prous, M., Sonderlund, A. L., Vergani, M., & Iqbal, M. (2018). Alcohol consumption, masculinity, and alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour in sportspeople. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 21(4), 335–341. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2017.06.019
Wilkinson, A. L., Halpern, C. T., & Herring, A. H. (2016). Directions of the relationship between substance use and depressive symptoms from adolescence to young adultho


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