Depression and Substance Abuse - Discussion

An association often exists between depression and substance abuse issues. Depression or other forms of mental conditions sometimes occur in conjunction with alcohol and drug abuse problems. It could take place both ways - one or the other of the above conditions could trigger the other one in people.

Depression Leading to Substance Abuse

It has been noticed that some or many people who are feeling depressed tend to start consuming more alcohol or abusing drugs. The habit of abusing narcotic substances or other recreational drugs is mainly to escape the symptoms of depression.

Initially, taking these drugs and other substances will provide relief from the various signs and symptoms of depression. It will help one relax and generally make people feel good. Soon, however, the body gets accustomed to these substances and one stops feeling the same amount of high. People then increase the quantity of substance abused, combine drugs with other drugs, or mix drugs with alcohol. Such actions create further problems both physiologically and psychologically.

Importantly, the underlying symptoms of depression do not get addressed or treated and continue to increase, ultimately becoming extremely intense and severe. Overall, the downward spiral of depression and substance abuse gets exacerbated.

Importance of Diagnosis and Treatment

Therefore, people who suffer from depression and substance abuse problems need to be diagnosed and treated for both conditions. Initially, an evaluation to establish the nature and form of depression has to be undertaken, followed by the determination of the extent and damage abusing drugs has caused the person. The process of assessing and diagnosing people with both such problems is referred to as dual diagnosis.

Dual diagnosis in such people is extremely important because, if the person is abusing various drugs while suffering from depression, treatment will be ineffective and people might find themselves not responding to various forms of intervention. A person who is abusing drugs will experience an altered mental state and might not be responsive to therapy and counseling.

At the same time, antidepressants and the substances being abused might interact and result in contraindications. Therefore, it is important for the person to completely stop abusing drugs and substances for any form of depression treatment to be effective.

The Combined Problem

Depression and substance abuse problems, when existing together, pose a major concern to the friends and family of the concerned. This is mainly because it is difficult to kick the substance abuse problem, and failure to do so can worsen depression.

Chances of people overdosing themselves or demonstrating psychotic symptoms like visual and auditory hallucinations will further complicate the diagnosis and treatment aspect of the condition. This kind of condition, where there are multiple problems occurring at the same time, is referred to as tardive dyskinesia and needs extreme special attention, care, and treatment.

People with such disorders or dual diagnosis of depression and substance abuse generally feel that it is better to be perceived as a drug addict or substance abuser rather than a depressed person. They hence continue abusing drugs or other substances, ignoring their depressive condition altogether.

Help and Treatment

Treatment for this form of condition, where depression and substance abuse coexist, involves a combination of drug rehabilitation, counseling, therapy, and possibly medications.

Rehabilitation centers will concentrate on ensuring that the person goes off drugs and cultivates healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping habits. This is followed by counseling sessions, where the affected persons are encouraged to share their feelings with counselors and psychologists so that they can address these problems directly or escalate them to other physicians, psychiatrists, or naturopathic practitioners.

Friends and family of the concerned person will also be counseled and advised regarding the special care and monitoring that might be required to ensure that the person does not slip back into the drug or substance abuse habit. People with both these problems are extremely vulnerable to provocation, peer pressure, and ultimately could contemplate suicide, since they find it difficult to break the vicious cycle of depression and substance abuse.

It is, therefore, extremely important for friends and family to monitor people with these conditions, offer them a lot of psychological support, engage them in activities that involve both their physical and mental faculties, and ensure that they never get back into the habit of abusing drugs, smoking, or drinking so as to avoid relapses.

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