Dual Diagnosis - Depression and Anxiety - Drug and Alcohol

Depression & Drug Addiction: What You Need to Know

Depression and drug addiction is a common dual diagnosis. It’s also treatable. Learn more about these co-occurring disorders in our blog!

Depression & Drug Addiction: What You Need to Know

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

December 30, 2022

The Forge Recovery Center

Depression and drug addiction are growing public health issues in the United States. Current research data on depression and drug addiction from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows that about 7 percent of adult individuals in the US are suffering from depression, and about 5 percent are suffering from drug addiction.

The NIH also reports that depression is a leading mental health disorder in the US and affects people of all ages, including children and adolescents. At the same time, drug addiction is also a significant public health issue, significantly impacting levels of morbidity and mortality. In 2015, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported over 20 million substance abuse disorders in the United States.

There is a strong connection between depression and drug addiction, as individuals who are depressed are more likely to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to deal with their symptoms. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 50 percent of people who suffer from a substance abuse disorder also suffer from depression.

If you're reading this, it's safe to say that you or a family member is dealing with depression and drug addiction. It's challenging to come to terms with but admitting that you have a problem is the first step to recovery. In this guide, we will explore the causes of depression and drug addiction and some ways to ease your struggle with these illnesses. We will also provide resources for further help and support so that you can access help from a qualified mental health professional.

Let's begin by knowing more about these disorders.

Depression and Drug Addiction Explained

Depression and drug addiction can both have a profound effect on a person's life. 

Depression is a mental illness that is depicted by persistent sadness, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite, and sleep disturbances. Drug addiction implies suffering from a chronic disorder that compels drug abusers to seek drugs despite knowing their adverse effects.

The Roots of Depression and Drug Addiction

Depression and drug addiction are two preeminent problems that often go hand-in-hand. People who are struggling with depression may turn to drugs as a way to deal with their feelings of worthlessness, sadness, and despair. Unfortunately, this rarely follows addiction, which only makes depression worse.

Genetics, stressful events in life, and brain chemistry are the factors that cause depression, while the factors that influence drug addiction include genetics, environment, and brain chemistry.

It's vital to know that depression and drug addiction are medical conditions that need treatment. However, with the right kind of treatment, it is possible to overcome both depression and drug addiction and live a happy and healthy life.

RDoC: Depression and Drug Addiction

Research Domain Criteria, or RDoC, is a framework for studying mental disorders. It's meant to aid new research methods that pave the way for better diagnoses, interventions, prevention, and cures. RDoC is not intended as a diagnostic tool or to replace existing systems. Instead, it was designed to teach different data types, including molecules, behavior, cells, genetics, self-report, circuitry, and physiology.

The National Institute of Mental Health's (NIMH) Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project is a research initiative to transform the classification of mental disorders from the current diagnostic system based on symptoms to one based on underlying brain circuits and genetics. The RDoC project aims to improve our understanding of the biological basis of mental disorders and ultimately develop more effective treatments.

There is growing proof that depression and drug addiction share common underlying mechanisms in the brain. For example, both conditions are associated with changes in neurotransmitter systems, including serotonin and dopamine. Additionally, both depression and drug addiction are related to alterations in brain structure and function, particularly in regions involved in motivation and reward processing.

The RDoC approach may help to identify new targets for treatment development for depression and drug addiction. For example, if we can better understand the specific brain circuits and genes involved in these conditions, we may develop more targeted and effective treatments. Additionally, the RDoC approach may help to predict which individuals are at risk for developing depression or addiction so that we can intervene early to prevent these conditions from developing.

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The Connection Between Depression and Drug Addiction

Drug addiction can cause depression, and depression can cause drug addiction. It's an unbreakable vicious cycle.

People who are depressed often find solace in drugs to deal with their feelings of despair, sadness, and loneliness. Drugs can provide an escape from the real world, causing an individual's emotional suffering and pain to numb out. However, this escape is only temporary. The problems that caused the depression in the first place will still be there when the person comes down from the high. They may be even worse off than before because now they're also dealing with the consequences of their drug use.

Meanwhile, drug addiction can cause depression by interfering with brain chemistry. Drugs alter the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness and sadness. Physical changes in the brain may occur due to drug addiction, resulting in depression.

For example, chronic methamphetamine use has been linked to shrinkage of the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with memory and learning. This shrinkage is reversible with abstinence from meth use, but it's unclear if it leads to long-term changes in mood or mental function.

When these conditions co-occur, they can have devastating consequences if left untreated. 

Teen Depression and Drug Addiction

Now that the connection between drug addiction and depression has been established, it is no longer a secret that they co-occur and are often inseparable like conjoined twins.

Depression and drug addiction statistics given by NIDA show teenagers are twice as likely to develop a substance abuse problem if they suffer from depression than those who don't.

As a parent, you may wonder how to tell if your teen is suffering from depression or just going through a normal phase of adolescence. 

Watch out for these signs:

  • They start skipping school or get into trouble with the law.

  • You notice they are using drugs or alcohol, even if they are just experimenting.

  • Your teen seems withdrawn and isolates themselves from friends and activities they used to enjoy.

  • They seem more irritable or agitated than usual.

  • You notice a drastic change in their eating or sleeping habits.

If you think your adolescent child is depressed, get help without delay. Speak to their doctor or a counselor about your concerns and inquire about treatment options. Depression is an illness that needs to be dealt with seriously and can carve the niche for drug abuse, so getting help as soon as the signs are observed is essential.

Ways You Can Help a Person Suffering from Depression and Drug Addiction

It is devastating to see a loved one suffer from depression and addiction. This combination of mental disorder and drug addiction is known as a dual diagnosis. Also called a co-occurring disorder, a dual diagnosis can be devastating for a person. You start feeling helpless when you cannot end their pain despite wanting to do every little you can to ease their suffering. 

Here are some suggestions to help yourself or a loved one:

  • Educate yourself about depression and addiction. The more you understand, the better equipped you'll be to help.

  • Reach out to the person suffering. Tell them you care about them and are willing to help.

  • Encourage them to seek professional help. This is often the most effective way to treat both depression and addiction.

  • Be supportive throughout their treatment journey. This includes attending therapy appointments or being available to talk when they need to vent.

  • Help them develop healthy coping mechanisms. This could involve things like teaching them how to meditate or helping them find an enjoyable hobby.

  • Check in with them regularly, even after they've finished treatment. Tell them you're still here for them, and they can always come to you if they need support.

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Do you have more questions about mental health or drug addiction? Reach out.

Government Aid for Individuals Suffering from Depression and Drug Addiction

In the United States, drug addiction and depression disorders are responsible for many of the country's overall healthcare costs. The government provides aid to those suffering from depression and drug addiction through grants and subsidies. This aid is available to help cover the costs of treatment and rehabilitation.

If you are an individual suffering from depression and drug addiction, government aid can help you get the treatment you need. In addition, several programs and organizations can offer financial assistance, housing, and other forms of support to those struggling with these disorders.

Depression and drug addiction are serious problems that can have a devastating impact on your life. Many government programs and organizations can provide you with the assistance you need to get treatment and start rebuilding your life.

Many federal and state programs offer financial assistance to those suffering from depression and drug addiction. The most well-known program is Medicaid, a joint federal-state health insurance program for low-income Americans. Other programs include the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

The requirements for government aid for drug addiction and depression can vary depending on the country or state in which you reside.

Determining Your Eligibility

To be eligible for government assistance, you will typically need to meet specific criteria, such as being a US citizen or legal resident, having a low income, and being diagnosed with an eligible condition by a qualified medical professional. In addition, each program has its specific requirements that must be met to receive benefits.

For an individual to qualify for SSDI benefits, they must have a disability that prevents them from working and have paid into the Social Security system through their employment. In addition, SNAP benefits are available to households with incomes below 130% of the federal poverty level, and TANF benefits are available to families with children who meet certain criteria related to pay, work, and child welfare.

When it comes to government aid for individuals suffering from depression and drug addiction, the process is fairly simple. Individuals suffering from these conditions can typically apply for government assistance through their local county or state office. In most cases, these individuals must provide documentation of their situation to qualify for government assistance.

Many government institutions offer aid for those suffering from depression and drug addiction. For example, NIDA is a government institution researching drug abuse and addiction. NIDA also offers resources and support for those who are struggling with addiction. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is another government institution that provides resources and support for those struggling with depression and drug addiction. SAMHSA also provides funding for treatment facilities and programs that help individuals recover from addiction.

Suppose you are wondering whether you qualify for government assistance. In that case, it is important to reach out to the appropriate agency or agencies to find out more information and begin the application process. Qualifying for assistance can provide much-needed financial support to help you get the treatment you need to overcome your addiction and depression.

Resources for Depression and Drug Addiction

When you are feeling helpless or hopeless, there is free help for depression and drug addiction available. Please call 1-800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or SAMHSA's National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357), which is a confidential and free 24x7 information and treatment referral service for families and individuals suffering from substance use and mental health disorders.

Treatment for both depression and drug addiction is available but often requires a multi-disciplinary approach, including therapy, support groups, and medication.

The Forge Recovery Center Treats Depression and Drug Addiction Effectively

The Forge Recovery Center provides carefully curated treatment plans for people suffering from depression and drug addiction simultaneously. We understand and empathize with individuals and families going through an overwhelming distressful experience.

Our staff is solely dedicated to providing the best possible medical care and therapy to our patients so they can turn a new leaf at the end of their battle with depression and drug addiction.

Depression and drug addiction are treatable. Want to learn more about how The Forge treats depression and drug addiction? Contact us today.

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