Because May is Mental Health Month in America, let’s take a look at one of the most-common dual diagnosis combinations: Substance Use Disorder and Depression. Nearly two-thirds of substance abusers also struggle with major depression. Understanding this relationship can aid recovery from both conditions.
Truth #1: Depression Feeds Substance Abuse
Depression robs its victims of their ability to feel happiness or even satisfaction, to the point that they are unable to function normally. And because intoxicants like alcohol and illicit drugs artificially trigger increased production and release of pleasure-causing hormones, people with depression will self-medicate in and attempt to feel better.
Truth #2: Substance Abuse Feeds Depression
But those positive feelings are a temporary illusion. Chronic substance abuse eventually disrupts the brain’s reward system completely, leaving the person in even worse emotional shape whenever they are not drinking or using. And as their substance abuse deepens into dependence an addiction, they begin experiencing negative consequences that intensify their depression:
- Relationship problems
- Social isolation
- Work/School difficulties
- Legal issues
- Health concerns
Truth #3: Depression and Addiction are a Dangerous Combination
Mental illness is the #1 cause of suicide, and substance abuse is close behind as the #2 cause. Either condition results in a risk of suicide of about 10%.
But when these conditions co-occur, the risk jumps to approximately 25%.
Truth #4: The Right Treatment Does Help
It is not enough to try to treat one condition before dealing with the other. When not addressed at the same time, depression is a major relapse trigger for addiction, and alcohol and drugs each reduce the effectiveness of depression treatment.
But when both disorders and how they affect each other are addressed at the same time, the chances of successful, long-term recovery increase dramatically.
Lasting Recovery, a premier outpatient drug and alcohol rehab program in San Diego specializes in the treatment of co-occurring depression and addiction. Using evidence-based strategies, including psychological testing, psychiatry and focusing on your total wellness, Lasting Recovery can help you regain, not just your sobriety, but also your sanity and stability.