Treatment for Substance Abuse and Depression

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is considered to be a chronic dysfunction of an individual’s brain system that involves motivation, reward, and memory. It is about the way that a person’s body craves a behavior or substance, especially if it causes an obsessive or compulsive pursuit of a specific “reward” and a lack of overall concern over consequences. When individuals experience addiction, they will:

  • Not be able to stay away from the substance or stop the habit-forming behavior
  • Have an increased desire for the behavior or substance 
  • Dismiss how their behavior might be causing problems
  • Display a lack of self-control 
  • Lack an emotional response 

As time goes on, addiction can severely impact an individual’s daily life. When individuals undergo addiction, they are typically more prone to cycles of remission and relapse. This means that the cycle might be between intense and mild use. Despite the ranging cycles, addictions generally worsen over time. They can lead to serious consequences like bankruptcy and permanent health complications. 

Addiction Stages


When an individual consumes a drug, their body becomes accustomed to it and in turn, uses bigger doses to achieve desired results. 


With more of a reduced drug intake, an individual will become nauseated, nervous, or agitated and can experience trembling or cold sweats. 


Even though the individual takes the drug in an attempt to feel better, he or she will begin to experience sadness or guilt after using it. 


Anytime a person attempts to quit drug use, he or she will get hold of it again due to wanting to avoid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. 

If an individual stops engaging in substance use, his or her depression will likely initially begin to worsen, especially if the person struggles with severe depression. Similarly, if a person has been drinking in an attempt to bury depression symptoms for years, the depression might become more pronounced when that same individual is initially sober. Thus, the treatment for substance abuse and depression needs to be coordinated.

What Is Depression?

Depression is extremely common among individuals struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. Substance abuse and depression can intensify or trigger feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or loneliness which are generally associated with depression. It’s pivotal to remember, “An estimated one-third of people with major depression also have an alcohol problem.”

It was estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that 10% of American adults have depression. Data from the CDC also indicated that the following are most likely to become depressed:

  • Uninsured individuals or those without any access to a variety of healthcare insurance 
  • Unemployed people or individuals with disabilities that cannot work for any reason
  • African Americans and Hispanics
  • Middle-aged adults around 45-64
  • Females 

The majority of individuals will undergo low and high moments throughout their lives, but clinical depression persists for weeks, months, or even sometimes for years. Clinical depression has the power to interfere with an individual’s entire life, including his or her ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle or occupation. For individuals struggling with depression who feel as though the end isn’t near, alcohol and drug use might often appear like an escape to their problems. 

Substance Abuse and Depression

When combining depression and drug abuse, the substances are known to temporarily alleviate any emotional pain the person might be facing and instead promote an overall sense of happiness. However, one of the biggest downsides of combining substance abuse and depression is having to face addiction. The more an individual consumes, the more dependent a person’s body becomes on the effects. 

As time goes on, substance abuse and depression combined exacerbate each other and result in various health problems such as brain damage later down the road. When individuals face depression, it feels like an uphill battle every day. There are numerous components of depression that overlap with addiction, making it vital that individuals get help for treatment and care for both disorders. 

Addiction and depression can cause an individual to do the following:

  • Undergo personal relationship problems
  • Isolate themselves from other individuals
  • Give up hobbies or social activities
  • Refuse to acknowledge a problem 

For individuals undergoing depression, it can be especially tempting to want to alleviate depression feelings by engaging in drug and alcohol use. Ultimately, in the end, allowing substance abuse and depression to ease their way into your life only causes more harm. The problems that generally occur from addiction and depression are personal hardships and financial troubles. 

Effects of Suffering from Substance Abuse and Depression 

Drinking alcohol can lead to depressive symptoms such as sadness, hopelessness, and lethargy because alcohol is a depressant. Therefore, it depresses an individual’s nervous system. The majority of individuals who struggle with severe depression turn to substance abuse often as an attempt to shield away any painful thoughts or receive relief from depression. 

As a result of that, substance abuse and depression feed into one another often, leading to more severe forms of depression. Individuals who struggle with dual diagnoses experience substance abuse and depression which could cause them to be hospitalized for either illness. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, substance use disorders (alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling) and psychiatry disorders are often treated as dual diagnoses. 

It’s pivotal to note that an individual’s mental state can reach a certain level that is conducive to suicide, injury, or self-harm once it reaches the level of severe depression. Depression can take an intense toll on a person’s immune system and cause his or her overall body to weaken. The combination of both can make a person more vulnerable to further illnesses.

Most Common Types of Depression


This is a milder form of depression. Individuals with dysthymia struggle from a continual “gloomy mood” that can persist for over 1 to 2 years. Individuals who engage in substance abuse and depression do so because substance abuse can mask many of the negative emotions that come from dysthymia. 

The main part to remember is that even though engaging in substance abuse can mask negative emotions, it’s only for a short-term period. One of the most essential factors to remember about engaging in substance abuse and depression is it can drastically interfere with the following in your life:

  • Personal relationships 
  • Daily activities 
  • Work 

Because dysthymia is considered more of a chronic condition, major depression can eventually be the next thing it leads to. 

Major Depression 

One of the most common types of depression is major depression. It roughly affects about 7% of the nation’s population at any certain time. The main symptoms of this type of depression that typically lasts for more than two weeks are the following:

  • Sleeping pattern changes
  • Extreme sadness
  • Lack of energy 
  • Irritability

If this disorder is left untreated, major depression can reoccur throughout an individual’s life. 

Atypical Depression

With this form of depression, a person will experience depression symptoms. However, his or her mood will be uplifted briefly with the news of a positive event. During the more “low” periods, depression can become so intense that individuals might feel like life isn’t worth living. 

When individuals decide to engage in depression and drug abuse, alcohol and addictive substances are typically utilized as a way to self-medicate. It can result in detrimental behavioral and emotional problems. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder 

Typically occurring in the wintertime, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that is associated with numerous variations of light. Individuals with this depression might undergo mood changes, overeating, sleep issues, and anxiety. To properly diagnose SAD, an individual must be able to display the above-mentioned symptoms over at least three consecutive winters.

Depression Symptoms

The various depression symptoms vary mostly depending on the type. When there is a co-occurring alcohol or substance addiction, the overall severity of the symptoms is thoroughly increased. Individuals who struggle from depression have roughly a 10% lifetime suicide risk. 

When depression and drug abuse are combined, the suicide risk escalates to about 25%. The overall majority of individuals facing depression might experience one or more of the common symptoms listed below. However, for individuals with more severe types of depression, the symptoms can be especially dangerous, or even life-threatening. 

The Common Depression Symptoms

  • Loss of interest in hobbies, personal goals, and work 
  • Feeling hopeless, pessimistic, and useless
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Problems sleeping
  • Irritability

Severe Depression Symptoms

  • Using alcohol and drugs to cope with depression 
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
  • Feeling of guilt or being worthless
  • The sense of being hopeless
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Weight loss and appetite loss
  • More appetite or weight gain
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Tearfulness, dizziness
  • Under or oversleeping
  • The aches and pains
  • Reckless behavior 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • General irritability

Diagnosing Depression 

There are numerous ways that doctors diagnose depression at rehab for depression and addiction. A couple of tests might be completed to accurately pinpoint the type of depression and the most ideal treatment at rehab for depression and addiction. 

Physical Exam

A doctor will complete a physical exam to determine if any underlying health conditions might be linked to an individual’s depression at rehab for depression and addiction. This specific exam might include a thorough range of physical tests to get a more accurate understanding of the patient’s overall health. 

Lab Tests

The blood tests can remove a variety of underlying health conditions that could certainly be contributing to the individual’s depression symptoms. For example, a thyroid test or complete blood count will ensure various parts of the body are properly functioning.  

Psychological Evaluation 

Mental health professionals or doctors might have clients complete a questionnaire to learn more about their thoughts, feelings, and symptoms. The information that is provided in this particular evaluation will assist doctors in forming a genuine diagnosis that will help aid in determining the appropriate treatment. 


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as DSM-5, is used regularly by mental health professionals. Criteria listed in this manual assists doctors in diagnosing an individual’s mental health conditions. It’s also utilized by several insurance companies to reimburse treatments that are associated with a condition. 

Depression and Addiction Treatment Centers 

There are a variety of factors that play a large role in deciding on treatment at rehab for substance abuse and depression. Depression can be properly and thoroughly managed so individuals can enjoy a normal life. The options for treating depression range from psychotherapy to brain intervention therapies to medications.

Depression Medications

The medication that is designed to assist depression is antidepressants. They are specifically designed to overall improve the way that a person’s brain processes multiple chemicals that are also able to control his or her overall mood. Finding a specific medication that works best for individuals and their symptoms, along with having the least amount of side effects can take time. 

A doctor might recommend a combination of two medications to increase effectiveness for a short period. Medication is most effective in helping individuals that struggle with depression. Some of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants might include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Atypical antidepressants
  • Tricyclic antidepressants

Similar to other medications, antidepressants can become addictive. If you are struggling with co-occurring depression and addiction, it’s imperative to inform your doctor. Your doctor will be able to work with you to find the most ideal treatment plan suited for your needs. 

If it means avoiding the pharmaceutical route with medications, your doctor will organize that plan for you. Every part of your health is important, including your ability and power to stay sober as you heal from past hurts of depression and addiction. 

Addiction and Depression Treatment Awaits at Kingsway Recovery Today

Without the proper treatment to determine a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder such as depression and addiction, the conditions could continue to occur and overall impact your qualify of life. Contact one of our facilities today to receive the treatment you need to get you back on your feet. Recovery awaits today.