Depression causes a person to feel isolated, lonely, sad, and without hope, which can be triggered or intensified by substance abuse. For many people, drug and alcohol problems begin as self-medication.
They use drugs and then rely on them to relieve their symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress; that is how they can cope. It is common for people to drink alcohol after a bad day or to relax. However, for someone predisposed to addiction, their use will be extreme, and then their depression also gets worse.
Substance use disorders co-occur at high prevalence with mental illnesses like depression. Around 1 in 4 individuals with a mental health disorder also have a substance use disorder (addiction). (NIDA, 2022)
Is Drug Abuse and Depression Common?
Many people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are also suffering from depression. Most families do not realize that their loved one is clinically depressed and only recognize the drug use. The best support this person can receive is to be treated for depression and addiction simultaneously in a dual-diagnosis program, also called co-occurring disorder treatment.
A person who has been diagnosed with a mental health illness, such as depression, and addiction, is what constitutes a dual diagnosis. This duality is also called comorbidity.
We recommend in-depth behavioral counseling that heals symptoms of depression and reduces negative drug-seeking mindsets through dual-diagnosis treatment.
Why Are Addiction and Depression Related?
To understand why substance use disorders (SUD’s) cause depression or why depression causes drug use, it is crucial to recognize that both ailments are mental health concerns. Many people realize that depression is a mental and emotional disorder, but they do not see that addiction is the same.
Most, if not all, addicts or alcoholics get high and drink to improve their mood from depression. Similarly, people who are using drugs and drinking get depressed because of how their substance abuse is affecting their lives.
What Are the Symptoms of Depression and Addiction?
The symptoms that both disorders cause will overlap. However, the typical characteristics of a dual diagnosis include the following:
- Isolating from family and friends
- Sleeping more or less
- Engaging in risk-taking behavior
- Inability to function without drugs or alcohol
- Extreme mood changes
- Problems concentrating or confused thinking
- Overdosing on substances
- Suicidal thoughts or plans
How is a Co-Occurring Disorder Treated?
The National Institutes of Mental Health explain how depression and SUD (addiction) are treated. They emphasize that the therapy must be for both simultaneously, or it will not be effective.
Generally, treating the SUD and the co-occurring mental disorders together rather than separately is better. Thus, people seeking help for SUD and other mental disorders need to be evaluated by a healthcare provider for each disorder. It also is essential that treatment, which may include behavioral therapies and medications, be tailored to an individual’s specific combination of disorders and symptoms, the person’s age, the misused substance, and the specific mental disorder(s). (NIMH, 2021)
We Recommend Dual Diagnosis Treatment
If you or someone you know has expressed concern for their mental health and is battling the disease of addiction, it is critically important that a mental health practitioner assess them. Our dual diagnosis programs are structured to assist individuals in recovering from their addictions while improving their mental health.
Our dual diagnosis program utilizes comprehensive science-based methods for therapy and substance abuse treatment. We provide cognitive behavioral therapy, individual counseling, medication-assisted treatments, small group counseling, and holistic therapy.
Medically Reviewed: December 14, 2022
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.