Different Ways Depression Can Lead to Substance Use

Depression can be a crippling disease that pulls people to the darkest corners of their mind.

Despite mental health care being much more widely accepted and encouraged in Western medicine now, the majority of people still do not seek professional help when they need it. 

As a result, many people struggling with undiagnosed mental illnesses turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to cope with the challenges of their mental health.

Some substances are more commonly chosen over others due to providing specific effects that may temporarily relieve them of their symptoms of depression. This relief is truly only temporary though, so many people up their substance intake in order to perpetuate the effects. 

Oftentimes, this increased intake results in an addiction, which is just one of the many harms that depression-induced substance use can cause.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the role depression plays in the development of a substance use disorder or addiction.

Substance use and addiction

Many elements of depression mirror the symptoms of addiction, making it sometimes difficult to identify which condition is present in an individual, if not both.

Some of their shared effects include:

  • Suppressing an individual’s interest in personal hobbies or lifestyle
  • Leading to difficulties and issues within personal relationships
  • Stunted emotional and mental maturity
  • Isolating oneself from people and avoiding social gatherings
  • Engaging in reckless or self-sabotaging behaviors

Alcohol and depression have long been known to be connected.

According to the Addiction Center, an estimated one-third of people struggling with depression are also struggling with an alcohol use disorder. Just as depression can lead to alcohol abuse, so can alcohol abuse lead to the development of major depressive disorder (depression).

Drug addiction and depression are also more closely linked than ever.

Not only are medications being prescribed at an all-time high, but recreational drug use is being engaged in much more frequently and among significantly wider demographics. In addition to drug addiction increasing over the years, so have mental health disorders and suicide rates.

Common substances used to cope

Alcohol is, by far, the most common substance used to self-medicate. It’s legal, openly accessible and available for a wide variety of prices. All of these factors make it the most commonly used substance to reduce stress and “manage” depression.

Stimulants are the second most common substance used to self-treat symptoms of depression. Examples include cocaine, methamphetamines and prescription stimulants, such as Adderall. These drugs are known to produce short “highs” of happiness that are often followed by intense “lows” that can lead an individual into an even more depressed state than they were initially.

Ongoing research suggests that marijuana can play a significant role in easing symptoms of depression in individuals. For those who did not respond positively to conventional or medication-assisted treatments, holistic alternatives may be attempted, such as the use of cannabis.

Medical supervision is advised, though, as cannabis affects individuals differently, and heavy cannabis use has been linked to increased depression symptoms.

Take the first step of recovery

If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder or addiction, we’re here to help.

Bluff is a premier addiction rehabilitation center in Georgia that specializes in providing the highest quality of care to those struggling with a substance use disorder.

We’ve carefully chosen compassionate doctors, nurses, therapists, nutritionists, and more, who are committed to serving you or your loved one in every way they can on your recovery journey.

Our programs utilize a combination of all three major forms of care in order to provide you with a true full-spectrum treatment plan that will set you up to not only complete your recovery program, but also equip and empower you to maintain long-term sobriety.

To speak with one of our admissions specialists and learn more about our programs, give us a call today at 844-242-0806.