Depression and substance abuse seem to go hand in hand. Does substance abuse lead to depression or does depression lead to substance addiction? In most cases, depression is considered a gateway to drug and alcohol use. Depression and substance abuse are in a cycle that feeds each other and one makes the other worse. They have what is called a bi-directional relationship. If a person abuses a substance, they are more likely to suffer from depression. If a person suffers from depression, there is likely to be a strong connection to substance abuse. The Journal of Clinical Psychology reports that 1 in 3 people that have an addiction suffer from depression and 1 in 4 people with a mental illness also abuse substances.
The National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that people diagnosed with mental illness account for 69% of the nation’s alcohol use and 84% of the nation’s cocaine use. Sometimes this is called self-medication and clinically depressed patients report that this helps them escape negative emotions. Drinking or drugs will often lift a mood temporarily and relieve guilt and melancholy, but many times they ultimately increase depression. When the drug abuse builds up a tolerance or comes to an end, the onset of depression becomes even worse.
Indicators of Depression
Typically, depression is seen as a lack of interest or fatigue, but those aren’t the only signs. Here is a checklist to think about:
- Do you feel angry or irritable often?
- Do hobbies or activities that you enjoy seem like a chore?
- Are your sleep patterns changing?
- Have you lost or gained weight? Any differences in appetite?
- Does your mind race? Can you concentrate?
- Do you feel uncontrollable guilt or despair?
- Have you thought that you’d be better off dead or had any suicidal ideation?
If you drink alcohol or feel like you may have a drug addiction, here are some questions to answer that may indicate that you should seek help from a professional:
- Do you find yourself trying to lessen your use of substances without success?
- Do you spend a lot of time finding, using, and recovering from your drug of choice?
- Do you have a hard time stopping and use for much longer than you intended?
- Do you find yourself calling into work or missing school? Are you behind on taking care of things at home?
- Do you abuse substances when it would put you or someone else in physical harm?
- Have you developed so much of a tolerance that you need to use more than before?
When to Seek Treatment for Depression and Substance Abuse
If you suspect that you suffer from codependent substance abuse and depression, it is time for an evaluation. Counseling and medication are frequently necessary for what is termed a Dual Diagnosis. It is estimated that over 8.9 people suffer from a Dual Diagnosis but only 7.4% receive proper treatment. In addition, few programs exist that treat a Dual Diagnosis with co-occurring integrate treatment.
Oftentimes, when addiction has become a problem, immediate medical attention is needed in the form of in-patient or out-patient care. This is needed to replace the addiction with healthy behaviors, habits and coping strategies for depression while at the same time dealing with the even harsher depression that is often present from withdrawals of substances.
If you don’t have a treatment plan while you are stopping a drug habit, relapse is highly probable. Many medications exist along with therapy for the withdrawal symptoms associated with drugs and alcohol including medication for opioid withdrawal and alcohol withdrawal.
Sometimes a period of abstinence is necessary to get a proper medical diagnosis and treat the underlying causes of depression and substance abuse.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment of Depression and Addiction
Dual Diagnosis is complex. A traditional rehab program will not be able to handle the psychiatric problems of a patient with a typically treated detox program. Counseling, psychiatric evaluation and medication, individual counseling, peer and group counseling, and family support all play important roles.
Grace Recovery is located in Los Angeles, CA and targets Hollywood and the surrounding areas for state-of-the-art addiction treatment. They have a residential treatment center with luxurious amenities and the latest treatment for Dual Diagnosis. Visit gracerecovery.com for more information.