How to overcome substance abuse and depression

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    There is usually a strong connection between depression and substance abuse. Depression is typically a common disorder in individuals battling an addiction to drugs. Generally, substance abuse triggers feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and loneliness that are primarily associated with depression. It’s estimated that a third of depressed individuals have substance abuse problems. Some people struggling with depression feel that there is no end in the future; thus, drugs such as alcohol tend to appear easy solutions to their problem leading to addiction.
    Substance abuse can worsen depression symptoms and result in health problems, including brain damage. Depressed individuals usually face a challenging battle in their daily lives. Elements of depression tend to rhyme with signs of addiction which makes it essential for the individuals to get proper treatment and care for both disorders.

    Addiction and depression cause a person to:

    •  Refuse to acknowledge problems
    • Isolate themselves
    • Give up on hobbies and social activities
    • Experience problems with personal relationships

    It’s usually very tempting to relieve feelings of depression with drugs such as alcohol. Depression symptoms tend to vary depending on the type, and co-occurring substance addiction to a specific drug can significantly increase the severity of the symptoms.

    The connection between depression and substance abuse

    It has been proven that many depression-causing factors play a significant role in substance abuse disorders. This is often referred to as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. 

    Addiction and depression frequently involve past trauma, family history, and imbalances in brain chemistry.

    Some drugs are CNS depressants that initially function as stimulants. However, this quickly intensifies the feeling of depression, lethargy, and drowsiness. For instance, alcohol consumption usually lowers inhibitions, impairs judgment, and can increase the risk of suicide by the depressed individual.

    Substance abuse may exacerbate the symptoms of depression, increase the chance of hospitalization, and interfere with the course of therapy for a depressive situation. Individuals being treated for depression while abusing drugs are unlikely to benefit from treatment unless their substance abuse is addressed and treated concurrently.

    Substance abuse lowers motivation and makes therapeutic approaches less effective. Additionally, drugs might have harmful interactions with antidepressant prescriptions.
    A program that combines mental health and recovery treatments at the same addiction treatment center, with a team of experts who are cross-trained in both professions, is the most effective way to treat depression.

    Solutions to depression and substance abuse

    It can be challenging to treat co-occurring addiction and depressive disorders. In treatment centers, the patients are usually taken through a comprehensive psychiatric assessment to distinguish between the effects of substance abuse and depression.

    • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)-CBT usually helps individuals to change their thinking patterns, which leads to depression. It allows a person to examine their environment and interactions and behaviors within it to reframe them in a better way.
    • CM (contingency management)-This approach reinforces positive behaviors by providing patients with tangible rewards.
    • PST (problem-solving therapy)-PST usually helps individuals cope with experiences and challenging life stressors. A therapist will help a patient pinpoint a problem and implement an effective solution.
    • MI (motivational interviewing)-MI focuses on an encouraging and positive approach while engaging the individuals in the entire recovery process through active collaborations with a therapist.
    • Medications for depression-Drugs in the SSRI category are often recommended for depression. They include sertraline, citalopram, and fluoxetine.


    There are multiple treatment solutions for individuals with addiction and depression. Dual diagnosis can have devastating effects on your well-being and the lives of your loved ones. However, treatment centers have research-based therapies widely known to reduce feelings of despair, worthlessness, and sadness. If you’re diagnosed with depression and substance use disorders, talk to your physician, counselor, or peer support to assist you in developing coping skills, thus, reducing the risks of anxiety and relapse.