Many people with depression become addicted to drugs or alcohol, and many people with substance abuse disorders become depressed. They are co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis. Sadly, each disorder can make the other one worse. Continue reading to understand how the two go hand in hand and play off of one another.
Depression’s Effect on Substance Abuse
Depression is a mental disorder that often causes sufferers to feel “down”, guilty, or hopeless. They usually have trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, and a lack of energy. Suicidal thoughts and thoughts of worthlessness also occur.
As someone with depression lives with these symptoms, it easily turns to a quest to numb the pain or forget their problems. In most cases, this quest ends with alcohol or drugs. Then, thanks to the vicious cycle, substance abuse creates additional guilt and feelings of worthlessness. All of this most often leads to additional substance abuse, and self-esteem is too low to think they can get better. Therefore, the cycle continues.
For instance, if a husband and father lost his job, he may begin to feel depressed because he cannot care for his family. He might turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with how he feels. Over time, his wife might tire of his substance abuse, take the children, and leave until he gets some help. While it may seem that this would make him stop, his depression only increases over the guilt of driving his family away. In the end, the substance abuse gets worse instead of better.
Most people with both depression and substance abuse problems crave the “relief” that their drug of choice offers. Even when they are aware that the high will end, they will do anything for those few moments that the pain and suffering go away.
Once the high is gone and they come back to reality, they tend to feel much worse than they did before. This is due to the effects drugs and alcohol have on the human body. Substance abuse can decrease the limited energy that a depression sufferer already has. Alcohol, in particular, is a depressant that causes tired feelings, hopelessness, guilt, and sadness.
All of this adds up to even lower mental and physical health. Once the high is gone, the terrible thoughts and feelings that they were trying to escape come back worse. Immediately, they begin looking for that “relief” yet again.
Though this seems like a very bleak way to live, there is hope. It can actually get better. If both the mental health issue and the substance abuse are acknowledged, both can be confronted and improved through specialized dual-diagnosis treatment.
Treating just one issue will more often than not lead to continued problems. When an addict also suffers from depression or any other mental disease, both the mental part and the addiction are two separate parts to one puzzle. Confronting only disorder is similar to putting the puzzle together with only half of the pieces. Both the mental and substance abuse disorder have to be treated in tandem for any treatment and recovery to be truly successful.
If you or a loved one are suffering from a combination of a mental health disorder and addiction, please reach out for help from a facility equipped to treat both. Warner Park Recovery is a dual-diagnosis program that can help you with both your mental health and substance abuse through a specially designed treatment program. We have different levels of care to fit your needs including outpatient care, partial daycare, and inpatient care. Give us a call to see how we can help you.