Depression and Substance Abuse

Drug addictDrugs generally bring unhappiness to the lives of addicts, and people with mood disorders often exacerbate their symptoms with the abuse of illicit substances. Due to the euphoric effects associated with cocaine, Ecstasy and methamphetamine, people with depressive thoughts often seek solace in these drugs. In many cases, drugs are used for emotional purposes in the aftermath of personal tragedies. Regardless of which comes first, however, depression and substance abuse are usually interrelated.

The Common Root of Depression and Addiction

Ill feelings and illicit drug use are often triggered by the same sources and effects, including:

  • Genetics. Some people have a greater genetic propensity for depressive thoughts and chemical addictions.
  • Brain regions. Drugs and mental disorders affect some of the same parts of the human brain, thereby making the two problems mutual in many addicts.
  • Mental history. Psychological issues stemming from childhood often lead to drug abuse later in life; likewise, early exposure to drugs can have depressive effects on the brain.
  • Personal situations. Unhappy circumstances are common causes for both depression and drug addiction.

Drug use and depression form mutual vicious cycles in many patients; as one problem spirals out of hand, the other soon follows.

Depression Rates Across the US

Figures compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveal some alarming densities of psychological distress amongst the overall population. At the high end of the spectrum are the following cities and counties:

  • Providence, Rhode Island:  13.41 percent
  • Multnomah County, Oregon: 12.58 percent
  • Salt Lake County, Utah: 12.48 percent
  • Tulsa County, Oklahoma: 12.08 percent

Tellingly, some of these same areas are among the more drug-infested parts of the country. In a 2001 SAMHSA survey, illicit drug use among the 18-to-24 age brackets in Oregon and Rhode Island sat respectively at 23.50 and 23.96 percent.

Depression and Binge Drinking

Alcohol and depression are interrelated in the lives of many people. The effects of alcohol can numb the mind, allowing drinkers to lose their troubled thoughts for short periods of time. Tolerance, however, leads to further consumption, and hangover depression grows more intense as dependency takes hold.

Under the influence of alcohol, people are more prone to engage in reckless behaviors that can ultimately endanger themselves and those around them. Drug use, as one would expect, is relatively high on the list of drunken misbehaviors. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that alcoholics are 18 times more likely than non-drinkers to engage in the recreational use of prescription drugs. Mixing alcohol with illicit or over-the-counter drugs can have severe consequences, from mental and respiratory depression to unconsciousness and death. Sadly, the prevalence of chemical co-administration in the NIDA survey was most intense among respondents in the prime of adulthood.

Treatment for Depression and Addiction

If you have found yourself consumed by a mixture of drugs and depressive thoughts, you are certainly not alone. Here at Axis, we have helped thousands of people through these same situations. With the care of our specialists who regularly help others work through these same situations, you too can turn your life around in a reasonable amount of time. Give us a call and learn more about our various treatment options for depressive chemical dependency.