Depression and Drug use can be a vicious cycle. Many times addicts use because they are depressed, and then the drugs and alcohol alter their brain chemistry to make them even more depressed. They cope with these feelings by using and drinking more, and around and around we go
Duke University talks about Treating Depression to Prevent Drug Abuse
Drugs and depression go hand-in-hand. A person might begin using drugs because they’re depressed, or they might get depressed after they stop using drugs, or both. The majority of people who are addicted to drugs will have to deal with the issue of depression at some point in their lives, too, whether it’s in the short-term or long-term. Unfortunately, addiction and depression are both mental illnesses that are difficult to fight and not well understood by the public. If a person stops using drugs, will sobriety help end their depression, too?
Depression and Drug Use
Depression is difficult to describe to someone who’s never experienced it before, but it’s a dark, difficult time in a person’s life when it’s hard to enjoy anything or look forward to the future. If a person doesn’t get professional help for their depression, they might begin to self-medicate using drugs or alcohol. If drugs make them feel better in the moment, they’ll keep chasing that relief and may end up with a serious addiction. While drugs might seem to help with depression for a while, in the end they will only turn it into a more severe problem.
Withdrawal and Depression
Depression is a very common withdrawal symptom for all substances. Anytime a person quits using drugs or alcohol after a period of addiction, they are at risk of feeling depressed. Sometimes this depression will last a couple days, and sometimes it can last months or years if untreated. If a person was depressed before they began using, depression is likely to be a more significant withdrawal symptom for them. Oftentimes people are depressed in sobriety because they feel guilty or ashamed of their addiction.
Treating Depression in Sobriety
Sometimes, depression from withdrawal will subside naturally as a person begins to get their life back on track after their addiction. As long as they’re focusing on their recovery, they can eventually learn to cope with their emotions and other challenges without using drugs or becoming depressed. Sometimes, however, depression can be a bigger problem, but it’s not impossible to overcome.
People who struggle with depression in sobriety sometimes go back to using because they can’t stand feeling so sad and down. It’s easy to get fooled into thinking that sobriety worsens depression rather than helps with it. It’s important to remember that addiction definitely doesn’t bring any real happiness. While it may be a struggle to feel happy in sobriety, it’s always better than living addicted, when you only have more problems and your feelings are hidden.
It might seem like sobriety causes depression, but in reality, sobriety helps with depression – as long as a person actively seeking treatment for their addiction and depression. Sobriety gives you the opportunity to think with a clear mind in order to make positive, healthy decisions for your life. While it can be difficult to ask for help with depression and face your negative feelings head-on, doing so can only lead to a much happier life than ever possible during active addiction.