How to Help Someone With Drug Addiction and Depression

When a loved one is struggling with any problem, it can be very difficult to simply sit back and watch them suffer. Caregivers especially want to feel useful and find a way to ease the pain. This response is completely normal and is even more intensified when a loved one is suffering from a mental illness or substance abuse problem. Since the two are often co-occurring, the suffering is that much more intense.

Clinical depression is one of the most common mental health disorders and is also frequently diagnosed in people who have experienced or are at risk of developing a substance abuse problem. Depression comes in many different forms and can range from very mild to very severe, often resulting in suicidal thoughts or tendencies.

Early detection of drug addiction and depression is important. If you suspect that someone you love is struggling with depression and substance abuse, talk to them about getting drug addiction help.

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When a loved one is struggling with any problem, it can be very difficult to simply sit back and watch them suffer. Caregivers especially want to feel useful and find a way to ease the pain. This response is completely normal and is even more intensified when a loved one is suffering from a mental illness or substance abuse problem. Since the two are often co-occurring, the suffering is that much more intense.

Clinical depression is one of the most common mental health disorders and is also frequently diagnosed in people who have experienced or are at risk of developing a substance abuse problem. Depression comes in many different forms and can range from very mild to very severe, often resulting in suicidal thoughts or tendencies.

Early detection of drug addiction and depression is important. If you suspect that someone you love is struggling with depression and substance abuse, talk to them about getting help.

Get Help

Don’t know where to turn? Give us a call

(833) 397-3422
What Can I Expect When I Call?
See Insurances We Accept
Take a Virtual Tour

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Symptoms of Depression

More than half of all individuals who experience substance abuse or addiction challenges are also diagnosed with a mental illness. This statistic may seem staggering at first glance, but when all factors are considered, it is not really surprising that so many dual diagnoses exist between mental health and substance abuse.

The reality is that depression and other mental health conditions do not normally occur suddenly or without warning. More often than not, this is a slow process that builds up over time. One or two otherwise manageable problems become entangled in a series of self-defeating thoughts and emotions. Eventually, a person who is operating at high-stress levels for a prolonged period begins to feel that they are not able to manage their life without some outside intervention.

When this person is willing to recognize their situation and accept help from their support system, the spiral of depression can usually be controlled and treated. For those who do not have a support system or are unable to accurately assess their situation, alcohol and drugs may seem like a logical solution to their depressed state. This, of course, creates more problems for the individual, but they may not even be aware of their own symptoms by this point. Some of the most common signals that a person could be experiencing depression include:

  • Low energy levels
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • General sadness or crying episodes
  • Changes to sleeping patterns
  • Apathetic toward people and life

When these symptoms have occurred or continue to worsen over a period of time, there is a very strong chance that depression is at work. The sooner the person seeks treatment, the stronger the chances that a successful treatment plan can be implemented.

Links Between Depression and Substance Abuse

drug addiction and depression suicide riskEssentially, the short version of this connection is that substance abuse is the answer to a personal battle with depression or that depression is a result of the guilt and mixed feelings about succumbing to substance or alcohol abuse. While neither scenario is actually incorrect, the general premise is incomplete. Drugs have a tendency to not only produce mental health disorders but also to make existing underlying mental health conditions worse. Similarly, mental health disorders have the power and tendency to encourage people to abuse drugs and alcohol. These two conditions have a very strong codependent relationship and are frequently seen together in dual diagnosis reports.

There are multiple direct correlations between substance abuse and mental health disorders. Because each field is awry with new research and treatment plan developments, information overload can be overwhelming. This is especially true for individuals who are seeking to overcome either condition. One of the most obvious links between depression and substance abuse is the nature of alcohol and other specific drugs. By nature, these compounds are depressants and can easily compromise an already weakened immune system. That physical effect may also trigger emotional and mental changes as well.

Offering Substance Abuse Help and Support

There are several ways to support and help a person with depression and substance abuse issues. If a loved one is experiencing the aforementioned symptoms or has had a history of either mental illness or substance abuse, you are probably looking for effective techniques to ease their suffering. Continue to provide a compassionate ear and listen to their concerns, challenges, and fears. Keep in mind that listening does not equal problem-solving. Avoid the temptation to provide answers to each of their dilemmas or to take care of their every need. Making things too easy is allowing them to continue passing responsibility for their lives onto other people. Offering depression and addiction help is a fine line between actually helping and creating a codependency in which you are supporting their addiction.

Reducing the symptoms of depression or anxiety and restoring broken relationships requires a workable drug abuse treatment plan and individuals committed to the cause. Setting boundaries is one of the hardest but most important tools you can use to help a loved one who is suffering with co-occurring depression and substance abuse. This first step must be taken firmly so that your loved one knows the cycle of manipulation is over. They can no longer depend on your concern or generosity to support their habits or avoid taking ownership of their actions. This is where helping someone with an addiction can be challenging, but one of the best ways to help drug addicts is to scale back support for their poor habits and offer guided depression and addiction treatment.

When your loved one knows that you genuinely care about them and are committed to their recovery process, they will build the character they need to stand independently and move toward sobriety. This is how you foster an environment where their depression and addiction recovery becomes possible. This includes taking ownership of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without placing blame on others or attempting to manipulate situations for their own benefit. If they have already been diagnosed and placed on a treatment plan for mental health or substance abuse, they will be responsible to uphold their commitment to the treatment for one or both conditions.

Whether you were able to reach through to them by sincere communication or a physical intervention, you have taken the initiative and laid the foundation to provide them with drug addiction and depression help. Recovery must be on their terms, but you should clearly communicated your intentions and offer to be supportive. If they are ready to take action, they will make the next right decision and ask for help.

Now is the perfect time to begin the recovery process. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with depression and is suffering from a substance abuse problem, contact our professionals at St. John’s Recovery Place today. Our admissions staff will help you make the right decision and begin the healing process.

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