substance addiction and depression

The Link Between Substance Addiction and Depression

In For Addicts by Rebecca Flad

No one is happy 100% of the time. We all have our good and bad days, and it is likely that we’ve all experienced mild to severe depression at least once in out lifetimes. We’re all affected by our jobs, relationships and even things that we see on the news. While some of us are more sensitive than others, it really depends on whether or not something will make us depressed.

Many find themselves treating their depression with doctor prescribed medication and even self-medicating. As you can probably guess, this often leads to substance addiction. So, what exactly is the correlation between substance addiction and depression?

What is Depression?

Not everyone knows or understands this, but depressions is a chemical imbalance.  A lot of the time it develops after episodes sadness, anxiety, worry, fear and more. Depression make it difficult to carry out simple, everyday tasks. Overall functionality is tampered with during depression, and inability to perform at work is apparent. While many people self-diagnose themselves with depression, it is often common sadness. As we mentioned before, we all experience sadness, but certain signs let us know that we are depressed. Here are some common symptoms of depression:

  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Increase or loss in appetite
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Soreness and aching
  • Energy loss
  • Guilty feelings
  • Worthlessness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Thinking suicidal thoughts
  • Attempting suicide

The Link Between Substance Addiction and Depression

Substance addiction and depression are directly correlated due to the clinical side of mental health issues. What does this mean? Clinical depression opens the gates for patients to receive prescribed medication. Unfortunately, when antidepressants don’t do the job of making a patient less depressed they turn to alcohol. Antidepressants are a gateway drug to addiction, and it is quite common that it’s users develop an addiction whether it’s to medication or alcohol.

Substance Abuse

When a person is depressed and taking antidepressants, the recommended dosage is often disregarded. In comes self-medicating and substance abuse. Substance abuse is when you consume medication, drugs or alcohol and “overindulge.” With substance abuse, you are consuming these substances at your own will and, often times, excessively. Substance abuse directly leads to addiction. While people consume substances for feelings of high when feeling low or depressed, they can unknowingly develop an addiction.

Signs of Substance Addiction:

  • Loss of Control
  • Withdrawal
  • Continued Use Despite Consequences
  • Feeling that you should cut down on using the substance
  • Attempting to cut back on the substance with difficulty
  • Excessive lying
  • People show concern
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Having regrets
  • Blackouts while using the substance
  • Relationship issues
  • Secrecy
  • Constant anger or sadness
  • Overactivity

Not everyone with substance addiction and depression will exhibit these signs, but they will commonly show a few. Not everyone with substance addiction and depression issues will know they are addiction. It often takes the concern of others to allow them to see their substance addiction and depression for what it truly is.

Finding Help and Treatment

The key to tackling substance addiction and depression is firstly acceptance. Once you accept your issues for what they are you will be able to move forward and find help or treatment. When there is denial present, which happens quite often, it is also common to stage an intervention. It is important to keep the concerns of the addicted in mind and not your own. Empathy is key in these situations. Substance addiction and depression are dual-diagnoses, so each issue will need to be individually treated which can be tough compared to a single diagnosis.