A well-known relationship exists between depression and substance abuse. Individuals suffering from depression have a higher chance of substance abuse and people with substance abuse are likely to get depression. Many with depression abuse drugs or alcohol because they want to escape misery or guilt while alcohol and drugs have properties that can boost lethargy or sadness. Substance abuse makes those with depression believe that their mental health is getting better not knowing that the situation is getting worse. Specialized treatment is given to mental health patients who have depression and substance use disorder. This treatment will help improve their well-being.

The consumption of alcohol to reduce stress, pain, or pity is quite common. Alcohol is the most common substance used by persons with depression to self-medicate. It is legal, available and it temporarily relaxes the body and reduces stress. Many believe that alcohol can solve their problems and what they ignore is that alcohol is detrimental to the brain. Research shows that drinking can escalate depression and reduce the effectiveness of antidepressants. In the long term, alcohol leads to health complications. 

Marijuana creates problems for those with depression as its chemical compounds negatively affect motor control, emotions, behavior, and cognition. Excessive use of marijuana has been linked to depression and anxiety. Some studies have shown that extended use of marijuana can lead to substance use disorder. 

Stimulants can also promote depression as the high that they provide eventually fades and then individuals seek more stimulants so that they may return to bliss. This cycle leads to drug addiction and it can stall the recovery process. Examples of stimulants include cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA, Adderall, and bath salts. 

Persons with depression are sometimes tempted to relieve its symptoms by taking drugs or alcohol. Many persons with depression abuse drugs and alcohol as a way to relieve feelings of despair and hopelessness. Intoxicants may relieve symptoms temporarily but they eventually intensify negative feelings and trigger self-destructive behaviors.

Persons at risk of depression and substance abuse disorder include middle-aged individuals, persons unemployed for long periods, people unable to work, and persons without medical insurance. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Irritability
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Lack of motivation
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of energy
  • Worthlessness
  • Guilt 
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts

Certain factors contribute to both depression and substance use disorder such as trauma and family history. Childhood trauma can increase the likelihood of depression and substance abuse when they become adults. Events likely to trigger childhood stress or trauma include the death of a loved one, domestic violence, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect.


Drug addiction and alcohol can cause mental illness as they alter the chemicals in the brain. Mental illness that is not diagnosed or treated quickly can encourage substance abuse. Addiction is a dangerous cycle that is hard to break. Persons that suffer from depression and substance abuse have to simultaneously seek treatment for both of them if they are to effectively recover. Patients may return to addictive behavior or experiencing depressive symptoms when proper treatment is not administered. Treatment involves medication and therapy.

The relationship between depression and substance abuse is bid-directional and if you are not sure that you are engaged in substance abuse you can ask yourself questions such as:

  • Do you take drugs or alcohol for longer periods?
  • Do you use substances higher than the recommended dosages or amounts?
  • Do you experience cravings?
  • Have you tried to limit the intake?
  • Do you continue usage even when you are aware that it causes you problems?
  • Do you need more and more of the substance to create the effect you desire?
  • Do you take drugs or alcohol to change your perception of something?
  • Do you partake in risky behavior when you are under the influence?
  • Do you spend a lot of money or time procuring substances?

If the answer to any of the questions above is yes then you need to see a mental health professional so you’ll know the right steps to take.  Note that finding a comprehensive treatment for depression and substance abuse is a great idea. There are medications and therapies available that can help you tackle both of them. Proper medical attention that will help them address withdrawal symptoms of alcohol and drugs. A period of abstinence may be needed for a medical professional to conduct a diagnostic assessment. Effective treatment for depression and substance abuse utilizes counseling, peer support, pharmacotherapy, onsite medical assistance, and individualized treatment plans. 

Depression negatively impacts the wellbeing of an individual as well as their relationships, job, and finance. An integrated treatment plan to help persons suffering from depression and substance abuse includes:

  • Clearly explaining depression to the client
  • Advising the client on the possibility of recovery from addiction and depression
  • Providing the client with the needed skills to battle negative thoughts
  • Identifying behavioral patterns that are addictive and changing them

Persons suffering from depression and substance abuse need encouragement, motivation, and support if they are to overcome it. A commercial drug-testing lab can proffer solutions on the challenges of substance abuse and how to beat it. They should not be offered false assurances by mental health professionals and they are to be provided with a support network as this is integral to their recovery.

By 12disruptors Admin

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