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Addiction and Depression

Addiction and depression are highly correlated. Studies variously show that of people struggling with alcohol addiction, between one fifth and one third of them also struggle with depression. People seeking treatment for alcohol abuse are about 40 percent more likely than the general population to have a mood disorder. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, people struggling with mental health issues consume 69 percent of the alcohol and 84 percent of the cocaine in the US. Overall, about half of people seeking treatment for addiction have some other mental health issue as well.

The links between addiction and depression are complex. People typically assume the overlap between the two is caused by people self-medicating their depression. This may be true to some extent. Depression is a kind of pain, and some people will take anything to make the pain stop.

Other mechanisms are more complicated. For example, some people, especially men, drink or do drugs to overcome social anxiety. If the social anxiety is particularly bad, it might lead to feelings of isolation and depression. Or, if someone is depressed and withdrawn, he might lack a strong social support network. A strong social support network is one of the strongest factors protecting against addiction.

Causation can also go in the other direction. Addiction can disrupt relationships and lead to social isolation, which can lead to depression. If the addiction is bad enough to cost you your job, the loss of work puts you at much higher risk of depression. You have nothing to do and nowhere to be. Why not drink?

No one enters treatment when she’s still having a great time. People typically enter treatment when their addiction has had some negative consequences in their lives–enough to justify the expense and inconvenience of taking time to address it. At that point, no one feels especially good and many people feel understandably terrible.

Treating a dual-diagnosis is somewhat more complicated than treating addiction by itself. Treating the depression is absolutely necessary though, because a depressive episode is one of the biggest relapse triggers. Treating depression sometimes requires medication and usually requires long-term support. Depression usually does not just disappear when an addict enters recovery. It’s a separate animal that requires attention.

If you suffer from addiction and depression, it’s important to get treatment for both. Gardens Wellness Center has expert staff who are trained to deal with complex conditions. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.