Depression and Substance Abuse

Depression often goes hand in hand with people battling substance abuse, such as alcohol, marijuana, or prescription drugs. Substance abuse often provokes or escalates feelings of sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness that are typically associated with depression.

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Studies have shown one-third of young adults diagnosed with clinical depression also have an alcohol dependency.

Additionally, some people develop symptoms of a mental illness, such as major depression, only after engaging in drug and alcohol use. Substances such as alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines, and cannabinoids are habit-forming because they trigger artificially high levels of neurotransmitter release in their brains, which leads to artificially inflated euphoria. 

The relationship between substance
abuse and depression

It is no secret that substance abuse and depression significantly impact people, families, communities, and societies.

People suffering from depression may use addictive substances to adjust their frame of mind or attempt to escape from feelings of guilt or despair. But substances like alcohol, a depressant, can increase feelings of sadness or fatigue. In young adults, roughly 16.5 percent have an alcohol use disorder, and 18 percent have a drug use disorder. A portion of substance abuse is genetic, including the impact of one’s environment on gene expression, and is considered to be about 40% to 60% of a person’s risk of abuse.

Environmental factors that could increase a person’s risk of addiction include a chaotic home environment or abuse, parental substance abuse, peer pressure, and poor academic achievement.

Our loved ones struggling with mental health disorders are more at risk for substance abuse.

Effects of Substance Abuse on Depression Symptoms

Substance abusers are at higher risk for developing mental health problems which include, but are not limited to, depression, personality disorders, behavioral problems, suicidal ideation, attempted suicide, and self-harm.

“Self-medicating” with recreational drugs and alcohol will only temporarily alleviate symptoms of depression because they affect the same regions of the brain as the disorders do.

However, the overall outcome is that you feel even worse when not using.

Wondering if someone is abusing a substance? These are some common symptoms

Addicts could feel uneasy when the substances wear off, with mild to severe withdrawal symptoms. These include:

  • Shaking
  • Nausea
  • Severe Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Short-temper
  • Cravings
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

In more severe cases

Confusion, seizures, a high fever, or even death.
Often when our nearest and dearest abuse substances, they cannot stop, even if they want to. They will continuously use it, although it is causing their lives to become worse, for example, trouble with friends, family, work, education, or the law.

Not being able to commit to a daily schedule such as waking up on time for studies or work. Daily routines become challenging to complete (working, cooking, showering, etc.) Since depression already causes sadness, loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities, and various physical and emotional problems like substance abuse does, these two combined are detrimental. This is why support from family and friends is so dire.

Losing interest in hobbies and activities that once were a part of the addict's life.

Choosing to use instead of socializing normally. This leads to isolation and further depression.

Another indication of substance abuse could be spending their time thinking about the substance; how to get more, when they will take it, how good it will make them feel, or how bad they will feel afterward because they find that they are struggling to cut the substance out of their life.

According to the National

Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)

19.7 million American young adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder.

About 74% of adults with a substance use disorder struggle with an alcohol use disorder.

About 38% of young adults battled an illicit drug use disorder.

One out of every eight adults struggled with alcohol and drug use disorders simultaneously.

One out of every eight adults struggled with alcohol and drug use disorders simultaneously.

The Spark to Recovery residential
treatment program helps those
suffering from substance abuse
and depression.

At Spark to Recovery, our treatment programs are specifically tailored to the client's addiction and needs. We recognize a dual-diagnosis case for what it is and support the development of healthier behavior and way of thinking. We instill habits, routines, and behaviors conducive to a healthy recovery.
Spark to Recovery takes a holistic treatment approach to rehabilitation and recovery. We offer the best chance at recovery with our exclusive and clinically proven treatment methods.
Check out our residential treatment program here on our residential treatment page or speak to a specialist now.

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