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Depression and Addiction: The Complete Guide

image of a woman depicting depression and addiction

The symptoms of depression can make some people use drugs or alcohol to feel better. However, using drugs or alcohol to deal with depression can lead to addiction.

Learn about why substance abuse and depression often happen together and why getting treatment for both is important.

If you need emergency detox and same-day rehab admission, call 866.559.4256.

Understanding Depression, Its Symptoms, and Why It Happens

Depression is a mental health condition that affects how you feel, think, and act. It can make you feel sad and hopeless, and lose interest in things you used to enjoy. It’s more than just feeling down or having a bad day – it lasts a long time and can make everyday activities hard.

People with depression can have many different symptoms. Here are some common ones:

  • Feeling very sad or empty: You might feel miserable most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Losing interest in fun activities: Things you used to enjoy may no longer be fun.
  • Changes in appetite: You might eat much more or less than usual.
  • Sleeping too much or too little: Depression can make it hard to sleep, or you might sleep much more than normal.
  • Feeling tired: You might always feel fatigued, even if you haven’t done much.
  • Feeling worthless or guilty: You might have a lot of negative thoughts about yourself.
  • Difficulty concentrating: You might struggle with focus and making decisions.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide: You might think about dying or hurting yourself.

Depression doesn’t have just one cause – it can happen for different reasons, including:

  • Genetics: If someone in your family has depression, you might be more likely to have it too.
  • Brain chemistry: Changes in the levels of certain chemicals in your brain can affect your mood.
  • Life events: Stressful events like losing a loved one, going through a breakup, or losing a job can trigger depression.
  • Medical conditions: Some medical problems, like chronic illness or hormonal changes, can cause depression.
  • Personality: Some people are naturally more negative or worry more, which can lead to depression.
  • Environment: Living in a stressful or abusive environment can increase the risk of depression.

What Is Addiction? Signs & Causes

Addiction is when you can’t stop using a substance like drugs or alcohol, even if it’s causing harm. It’s a chronic condition that changes the brain and makes it hard to control the use of these substances.

Here are some signs that someone might have an addiction:

  • Strong cravings: Feeling a strong need to use the substance.
  • Loss of control: Trying to stop using the substance but not being able to.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Not keeping up with work, school, or family duties because of substance use.
  • Tolerance: Needing more of the substance to get the same effect.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: Feeling sick when you stop using the substance.
  • Continuing use despite problems: Using the substance even though it’s causing problems in your life.

Addiction can start for many reasons, including:

  • Genetics: If addiction runs in your family, you might be more likely to develop it.
  • Environment: Being around others who use drugs or alcohol can increase the risk.
  • Stress and trauma: High levels of stress and experiencing trauma can lead to substance use as a way to cope.
  • Mental health: Conditions like depression or anxiety can lead people to use substances to feel better.
  • Early use: Using drugs or alcohol at a young age can increase the risk of addiction.
  • Brain changes: Addiction changes the brain’s chemistry, making it hard to stop using the substance.
how to help someone with drug addiction and depression  | drug rehab centers

How are Depression and Addiction Correlated?

The co-occurrence of depression and substance abuse is common. According to SAMHSA, more than 21.5 million U.S. adults had a dual diagnosis like depression and addiction in 2022.

There are many reasons why a person might have depression and substance abuse at the same time. Both conditions share common risk factors like trauma and chronic stress.

Some people with depression or other mental health issues might use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. This means they use substances to try to feel better. While this might help for a short time, it can make the symptoms of mental health disorders like depression worse in the long run.

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell which came first: depression or substance abuse. They both affect each other in many ways.

Drug Addiction vs. Alcohol Addiction

Drug addiction (substance use disorder) is when a person can’t stop using drugs, even if it’s causing harm. Drugs can include substances like marijuana, meth, cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and prescription medications used in ways not prescribed by a doctor. People with drug addiction often feel a strong need to use the drug and might have trouble with work, school, or relationships because of it.

Alcohol addiction (alcohol use disorder) is when a person can’t control their drinking. They may drink a lot of alcohol often and feel a strong need to drink. Like drug addiction, alcohol addiction can cause problems at work, school, or in relationships.

There are many similarities between these conditions, including:

  • Strong cravings: Both involve a strong urge to use the substance.
  • Loss of control: People can’t stop using the substance even if they want to.
  • Tolerance: Over time, they need more to feel the same effects.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: They feel sick when they stop using the substance.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Both can lead to ignoring work, school, or family duties.

Drug addiction and alcohol addiction also differ in some ways:

  • Types of substances: Drug addiction involves illegal drugs or misuse of prescription drugs, while alcohol addiction stems from drinking too much alcohol.
  • Legal status: Alcohol is legal for adults over 21, but many drugs are illegal or need a prescription.
  • Social acceptance: Drinking alcohol is often more socially accepted than using drugs.

Both drug and alcohol addictions are serious and need treatment. Help can include:

  • Therapy: Talking to a counselor or therapist can help with both types of addiction.
  • Support groups: Joining groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) can provide support.
  • Medical treatment: Doctors can provide medications to help with withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Ways to Help Someone with Drug Addiction and Depression

Helping someone with both drug addiction and depression can be challenging, but your support can make a big difference. Here are some ways you can help:

Listen and be supportive

Let them know you are there to listen and support them without judging. Encourage them to share their feelings and experiences.

Educate yourself

Understand more about drug addiction and depression to better support them. Recognize the signs of depression and addiction so you can help them get the right support.

Encourage professional help

Encourage them to see a therapist or counselor who can help with both addiction and depression. Support them in seeing a doctor who can provide medications or other treatments if needed.

Help them find resources

Help them find local or online support groups where they can talk to others who understand what they’re going through. Look for rehab or treatment programs that specialize in both addiction and depression.

Be patient and understanding

Understand that recovery is a long process and they might have ups and downs. Don’t blame them for their condition. Instead, focus on supporting their recovery.

Create a safe environment

Help them by removing drugs or alcohol from their living space. Try to create a calm and supportive environment to help reduce their stress.

Encourage healthy habits

Encourage them to exercise, which can help improve their mood. Help them eat a balanced diet to support their overall health. Encourage a regular sleep routine to help them feel better.

Be ready for emergencies

Be aware of signs of severe depression, such as talk of self-harm. If they are in danger, contact a mental health professional or emergency services right away.

Stay connected

Keep in touch with them and check in regularly to see how they are doing. Plan fun and relaxing activities to help them feel supported and connected.

Helping someone with drug addiction and depression can be hard, but your support can make a huge difference in their recovery. Remember to take care of yourself and seek support.

Depression and Addiction Recovery | FAQs

Does experiencing depression and substance abuse at the same time make recovery harder?

Yes, having both depression and substance abuse can make recovery harder – they can make each other worse.

Can I get depression and addiction help at the same time?

Yes, you can get help for depression and addiction at the same time. This is known as dual diagnosis treatment. Many rehabs offer integrated treatment for these conditions.

What rehabs are best to help me fight addiction and manage my depression?

The best rehabs for both depression and addiction offer dual diagnosis treatment to treat both conditions at the same time. Find the perfect rehab center when you call (844) 739-2005.

a man celebrating getting depression and addiction help

Get Addiction Help with an Emphasis on Mental Health with Drug Rehab Centers

If you have been dealing with depression and addiction, we can help you find effective dual diagnosis treatment at Drug Rehabs Centers.

We can connect you with medical detox centers across California, letting you begin your recovery with access to medications and 24/7 care.

We’ll also help you find inpatient or outpatient rehabs near you, so you can get the help you need at the right level of intensity. We can also help those who need extra support and accountability find local peer support groups.

Call our recovery experts today at 844.739.2005.

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