Depression and Drug Addiction: The Connection, the Statistics, the Solutions
Depression and drug addiction frequently go hand-in-hand. A study published by the National Institute on Drug Use found that an estimated 20 to 67 percent of people who were receiving help for drug and alcohol addiction also suffered from depression. About 6 to 8 percent also suffered from bipolar disorder.
What’s the Link Between Drug Addiction and Depression?
When you have symptoms of both a mental illness like depression and a substance use disorder, this is called a co-occurring disorder, or dual diagnosis. It makes the entire process of managing your drug and/or alcohol addiction a bit more difficult. A person with dual diagnosis needs to be treated for both depression and addiction. Treating one without the other leaves a person vulnerable and, in some cases, more likely to relapse.
What Occurred First? Answering the Big Question
It’s not always easy to know if a person with drug abuse developed depression or if they had depression and tried to treat it with alcohol or drugs. However, both scenarios are possible.
Self-medicating a mental health illness with drugs or alcohol is very common. A person facing anxiety may turn to drugs to calm them. Depression often leads to alcohol use even if it is just a drink of wine every day to soothe the stress. Over time, this worsens, leading to chemical dependency.
If you have symptoms of a mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or bipolar disorder, using drugs isn’t a solution. In fact, using drugs to treat these mental health disorders may worsen them, compounding the problem.
Some people are genetically predisposed to some form of mental illness but do not manifest them until a trigger causes the symptoms to appear. For some people, that trigger is the use of drugs or alcohol. Overuse of addictive substances can quickly reveal a hidden mental illness.
Do You Have the Symptoms of Depression and Drug Abuse?
It’s not easy to admit that you have either substance use disorder or depression. However, treatment requires honesty with yourself. Here are some key questions to ask yourself to understand where you stand.
- Do you have a past trauma you don’t like to talk about? Does thinking about it make you want to drink or use drugs?
- When you are around certain people, do you feel the need to use?
- Does another person in your family have a mental health disorder?
- Do you feel depressed after you drink?
- Have you received addiction treatment before that didn’t work?
It’s not uncommon for depression to go unnoticed in a person with a substance abuse problem. That’s why many people who enter drug and alcohol treatment fail if they don’t receive complete care for a co-occurring diagnosis.
Depression Symptoms and Treatments
Depression occurs for many reasons: genetic makeup, previous trauma, or unexplained loss. Often, a person with depression may have symptoms such as:
- Lack of interest in hobbies and activities they once loved
- Isolation from friends and family
- Profound feelings of sadness and loneliness
- Difficulty recognizing there’s a problem
- Difficulty with relationships
There are multiple ways to treat depression. Medications may be useful in helping to stabilize a person. Talk therapy and the use of treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help a person learn how to change their thought patterns. If you have suicidal thoughts, it is critical to get immediate help for depression.
What to Do If You Think You Have Both
If you have any form of depression or you are using drugs and alcohol to manage your mental health concerns, it’s time to get help. You can call and speak to our counselors at Victory at any time. Our drug and alcohol treatment center in Lafayette, LA, offers dual diagnosis treatment. We can help you to get a formal diagnosis and create a customized treatment plan to help you recover your health and wellbeing.
Don’t put off getting help. Depression and drug abuse can be a deadly connection. Help is available to aid with both.
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