Why Do You Use?

Mental illness sufferers use alcohol tobacco and marijuana for different reasons

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana together create quite the trifecta of substance abuse in the United States, and a new study explores the trio's correlation with mental illness.

Available through the journal Addictive Behaviors, the study investigates the prevalence of substance use across psychotic and mental health disorders to determine who likes what better.

Researchers concluded that interventions tailored to disorder and substance may yield increased results.

"Speak with a health professional before self-medicating."

In order to determine the reason behind each particular substance use, lead-author Louise K. Thornton of the Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research and her team used data from five controlled trials.  This data analyzed 976 participants for alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use with the Drug Use Motives Questionnaire, the Reasons for Smoking Questionnaire, as well as with direct responses. Participants averaged 38 years of age and were divided close to 50/50 between psychiatric disorders and depression with little over half male.

The results were compared across psychiatric and depressive disorders to determine that alcohol and tobacco helped patients to cope, while marijuana use primarily involved pleasure.  More specifically, Thornton explains, “people with psychotic disorders were more likely than people with depression to use tobacco for coping, pleasure and illness motives. People with depression, in contrast, were more likely to use alcohol for these reasons and social reasons.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that those with mood and anxiety disorders remain twice as likely than the average Joe to struggle with substance abuse, and vice versa. The Institute believes that not only does mental illness bring about drug abuse, as in the case of using alcohol and tobacco to cope, but also that drug abuse could bring about mental illness.

Recent studies link marijuana and methamphetamines to psychosis and schizophrenia.

No matter the case, mental illness suffers and substance abuse disorder patients share genetic vulnerabilities, environmental triggers, and developmental pathology with frequent comorbidity. NIDA supports the study’s findings, suggesting that the statistically high comorbidity “calls for a comprehensive approach that identifies and evaluates both.”

So although alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana may all bring about momentary pleasure, their long-term affects on mental illness cause concern. Talk to a doctor about the effects of substance use on health conditions before deciding to partake in their usage.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 12, 2011
Last Updated:
December 13, 2011