A recent article from Medical News Today has delved into the growing understanding of depression’s uncoincidental link to substance abuse disorder (SUD). For years, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental health difficulties have been suspected causes or catalysts for alcohol addiction and drug addiction. But the research concerning why these issues are connected often is still expanding.
According to the article, which looked at information from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 50% of people with substance use disorder also have depression or another serious mental health concern. It is believed that the changes to the brain’s chemistry that can cause or worsen depression symptoms can also alter a person’s self-control and inhibitions. That is to say, a person with depression might be more likely to become addicted to a substance or even a behavior due to reasons outside of their immediate control. If true, then addressing changes in the brain’s chemistry could also address both depression and addiction at the same time.
Dangerous Self-Fulfilling Cycle
If substance abuse can be caused by alterations to the brain’s chemistry, as emerging research seems to verify, then substance abuse can become self-cyclical. Certain drugs like methamphetamine and fentanyl can cause damage to the user’s brain in just a single dose. If the damage it causes is enough to alter the brain’s chemistry, then taking the drug can cause the user to become more likely to take the drug again. As this process continues, the risk of developing a mental health difficulty like depression will go up, too.
To make matters worse, depression symptoms usually include a feeling of hopelessness, a lack of motivation, and an inability to experience happiness. People who want to feel motivated or happy again often mistake the “high” caused by many drugs as an acceptable substitute for these feelings.
COVID-19 Depression & Substance Use Disorder
The Medical News Today article also warned of how the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has spiked depression rates across the country. Specifically, young adults are seeking help for depression and anxiety in increased numbers due to the many pressures related to COVID-19. At the same time, substance use disorder diagnoses are increasing, which, again, shows this is not merely a coincidence.
American Medical Association (AMA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research show that at least 6% of all COVID patients will develop a mental health difficulty that they did not have before they contracted the virus. Also, 13% of adults who had COVID or closely knew someone with it report using drugs or alcohol as an unsafe coping mechanism to the stress.
How to Treat SUD & Depression
New approaches to treating depression and substance use disorder are being used by medical professionals and addiction recovery centers alike. Rather than trying to address each issue separately, it is now widely accepted to treat them concurrently and with intertwining methods to increase treatment consistency. When a patient is diagnosed with substance use disorder and a mental health difficulty, it is called a dual diagnosis.
A dual diagnosis treatment program acknowledges the issues caused by both the substance addiction and the mental health difficulty afflicting the individual. It also understands that these two health concerns are capable of worsening or feeding off one another. Through this understanding, rehab professionals can make a stronger program for the individual to follow with a better chance of gaining sobriety and improved mental health.
Decision Point Center in Arizona proudly offers dual diagnosis treatments in a safe, secure, and confidential setting. We are in-network insurance partners with most major insurers to make using our treatments and programs more affordable to more people, too. If you want to know more, then please call (844) 292-5010 or reach out to us online now.