Treatment For Depression and Substance Abuse

It is common for substance abuse and mental health concerns to co-occur or exist at the same time. This co-occurrence can either be the result of the addiction itself or with the addiction as an outgrowth of the original mental health issue.[1] Depression is a common co-occurring condition with addiction issues and adds layers of complexity to the treatment of substance use.

Common risk factors can contribute to both addiction and depression issues alike, and there are several treatment modalities and environments which can assist you in healing as you begin the recovery process.

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    Common Symptoms of Depression and Addiction Issues

    There are many individuals who develop substance use disorders (SUDs) who are also diagnosed with concurrent mental health conditions (and vice versa).[2] Several studies have demonstrated that depression in particular shares many mechanisms with substance use, including anatomical pathways in the brain[3]. Furthermore, many individuals who suffer from depression may look to substances such as alcohol in an effort to feel better, and many who suffer from issues with addiction will often struggle with depression as a direct result of the difficulties arising from substance use.

    According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5),[4] an individual can be diagnosed with a major depressive episode if they meet at least five of the following criteria within a two week period (that isn’t better explained by the recent loss of a loved one or another mental health condition):

    • A depressed mood demonstrated most of the day, every day
    • A loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
    • Notable weight changes not due to dieting or weight gain
    • Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much
    • Slowed or reduced movement
    • Feeling excessively fatigued
    • Struggling with feeling worthless or inappropriately guilty
    • Ongoing thoughts of death or recurrent suicidal ideation

    Individuals can also be diagnosed with several other depressive-based mood disorders, including persistent depressive disorder.[5]

    Addiction issues can generally be diagnosed by a clinician when an individual meets at least two of the following eleven criteria over the past twelve months, per DSM guidelines:[6]

    • Taking a substance in larger amounts or for longer than you’re meant to
    • Wanting to cut down or stop using a substance but not managing to
    • Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of a substance
    • Cravings and urges to use a substance
    • Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of substance use
    • Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships
    • Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use
    • Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger
    • Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance
    • Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance)
    • Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance

    On the whole, both mental health conditions or addiction issues can cause several and varied challenges to your everyday life—and the combination of the two can often require individualized treatment strategies to begin the journey of recovery.

    Depression and Substance Use Statistics

    Depression and Substance Use Statistics

    Studies have shown depression to be one of the most common mental health conditions that is present alongside substance use.[7] More than 40% of adults in the US with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental health condition.[8] Among people who struggle with a mood disorder such as depression, 32% of them were also shown to have a co-occurring substance use disorder.[9]

    Sadly, 52.5% of people with these co-occurring conditions receive neither mental health care nor substance use treatment, with only 9.1% receiving both.[10]

    Treatment For Depression And Substance Abuse

    Treating depression and substance abuse necessitates a holistic and thoughtful approach, taking a full assessment of the issues at hand and developing a unique treatment plan that attends to each of your needs. No struggles with addiction or mental health are alike, which means that integrated and individualized care is recommended.

    Integrated care can improve overall treatment outcomes and quality of life for those suffering from depression and substance use, including:[11]

    • Reduced or discontinued substance usage
    • Improvement in mental health symptomatology and overall functioning
    • Improved quality of life
    • A decrease in hospitalizations
    • Increased housing and employment stability

    Many providers offer integrated treatment for substance use and depression as part of their services, which can include:

    • Individualized care and treatment planning
    • Supervised medical detoxification
    • Residential (inpatient) services, including individual and group therapy
    • Aftercare and outpatient options

    Cost of Depression and Substance Use Treatment

    Treatment costs for dual diagnosis issues vary widely depending upon several factors, including your own unique needs and the treatment facility which you choose. It’s always important to ask any funding-related questions early so you feel empowered to make the best decision, including insurance options and any other cost-related inquiries you may have.

    Why is Depression and Substance Use Treatment Important?

    Why is Depression and Substance Use Treatment Important?

    Co-occurring treatment takes an integrated and holistic approach to treatment by combining interventions for mental health and substance use issues into a single, comprehensive plan. Such an approach recognizes the interconnectedness of the two conditions and considers the individual’s unique circumstances, triggers, and coping mechanisms as a relevant and critical part of the treatment picture.

    By addressing both aspects simultaneously, co-occurring treatment has been associated with improved treatment outcomes, reduced risk of relapse, and better, more-stable long-term recovery. This comprehensive approach helps identify and address the root causes of both the mental health and substance use issues, such as trauma, unresolved emotions, family dynamics, or genetic predispositions.

    Providing comprehensive support through tailored interventions, co-occurring treatment aims to support individuals in achieving lasting recovery and improving their overall well-being. Ultimately, co-occurring treatment recognizes that treating the whole person, rather than just individual symptoms, is essential for a successful and sustainable recovery.

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Depression and Substance Abuse Conditions

    What types of therapies or interventions are used to treat co-occurring depression and substance use? Chevron Down
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