Daily Mood-Altering Drug Use Related to Significantly Less Well-Being

If nearly one in five people were using mood-altering drugs, it would seem a lot of people need help of some form.  Well that’s the case according to a new Gallup Study; on average 18.9 percent of people in the U.S. are using a mood-altering drug almost daily.

Top 10 States for Drug and Medication Use

Southern states seem to be altering the most as they make up six of the top 10 drug use states, with Rhode Island, Indiana, Oregon and Missouri joining them. 

"More than one in five residents of Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, Mississippi and Missouri report using a drug or medicated substance to alter their mood or relax on a near-daily basis." - Gallup-Healthways

Southern States Highest Narcotic Painkiller Subscribers

This could correspond to the fact that Southern states are among those with the highest rates for prescribing narcotic painkillers, according to CDC analysis.  Colorado, California and Illinois were among the six lowest mood-altering drug/medication use states.  

Gallup also calculated a Well-Being Index score and found that those who use drugs that affect their mood almost every day have a significantly lower average Well-Being Index score (56.3) than those who take drugs or medication to relax rarely (61.2) or never (63.6).

The Co-Occurring Disorder Dilemma

So the most frequent users of mood-altering drugs have the lowest well-being; is this surprising?  Which came first – drug use to alter the mood or lack of well-being?  It’s not answered in this study and in general is hard to decipher until the drug use is out of the equation (or evaluated for necessity if prescription) and the true healing can begin. 

Common co-occurring disorders that need to be treated when a substance abuser seeks treatment are depression, anxiety and mood disorders.  Since these mental health issues go hand-in-hand with substance abuse disorder, it’s important to parse out the multiple issues at the beginning of the recovery journey.  Getting the proper treatment for the underlying well-being issues that may compel someone to rely on mood-altering substances allows for a more successful lasting recovery.