signs of drug abuse

There are several signs of depression and drug abuse that, as long as we keep an eye out for the signs, we will be able to help those struggling. Substance abuse and mental illness walk hand in hand (co-occurrence). In some cases, mental illness or depression develops before substance abuse begins, and in others, depression or mental illness stems from drug abuse.  

Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up in a psychological funk? Yesterday seems fake, and tomorrow is too real. The future and all its prospects begin to fester. Eventually, it grows into this rather gargantuan monster of negativity. It is uncomfortable. Many of us experience these feelings of anxiety and depression and the common and unfortunate possible side effects; drug abuse and/or alcoholism. 

Due to the survey done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA), we can understand just how real mental illness or depression and drug abuse (dual diagnosis) is. There were an estimated 47.6 million people, 18 years and older, that suffered from mental illness in 2018. That is nearly 20 percent of the population within the United States. Further breaking down that statistic, there were an estimated 18.3 million males and 29.3 million females that had suffered a mental illness of some sort.

Depression and drug abuse go together like peanut butter and jelly. Depression can stem from a variety of issues. Issues such as financial, home life, work, school, or relationships. Throughout the population in 2018, there was 15 percent of people that had suffered a major depressive episode. For many people, these low feelings come and go as any other normal emotions can and do (feeling melancholy). Then there are those who suffer from true clinical depression, which is more serious and can lead to other co-occurring symptoms like drug abuse. 

Allowing ourselves to acknowledge and understand the signs of both drug abuse and depression, we will be able to help those suffering find the help they need and deserve.  

What is Clinical Depression?

Clinical depression or major depression is a mental disability with extreme discomfort for the individual and the loved ones in his or her immediate circle. It impacts the body, mood, and thoughts of the person. When left untreated, it can lead to a series of risks including but not limited to drug abuse.

While having a bad day is normal, for those suffering from significant depression each day can be a real struggle. In the case of clinical depression, professional help (counseling and/or medication) is advised to help level out the dark days.

Those struggling with depression are advised to seek out professional medical help to receive a diagnosis. Without seeking help, they may begin to suffer not only mentally but physically and may even lead to depression and drug abuse. 

The common symptoms of depression are listed below:

 Mental and Emotional Symptoms

  • Loss of concentration
  • Loss of hope 
  • Pessimism
  • More irritable 
  • Anxiety
  • Building feelings of emptiness or sadness
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and / or activities 
  • Guilt
  • Feelings of being helpless or worthless
  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts

  Physical Symptoms

  • Aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Cramps
  • Digestion issues
  • Restlessness
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Suicidal attempts
  • Low or loss of libido

Although there isn’t a test to determine whether or not someone is suffering from depression, you can review the symptoms. They will also ask a few simple questions and perform a physical exam. 

The questions about depression most commonly asked are:

  • When did the symptoms begin? 
  • Length of time, the symptoms have lasted?
  • What is the severity of the symptoms?
  • Do other family members have a mental illness, including depression?
  • Do you have a history of drug use or alcohol use?
  • Have you experienced depression previously, and how did you treat it? 


How Does Depression and Drug Abuse Coincide? 

Clinical depression can ultimately lead to or be caused by drug abuse. There are an estimated 9.2 million people that have suffered from the dual diagnosis of mental illness and a substance abuse disorder, including drug abuse. To detail the statistics a bit more, there was found to be about 15 percent of the population that had suffered from a major depressive episode in 2018.

Many of those suffering from depression may attempt to self medicate with drugs and/or alcohol. They are thus leading to drug abuse or alcoholism. Many substances used to self medicate, ironically, are depressants. This only leads to intensifying the negative thoughts and feelings caused by depression. 

Although depression is not the only cause of drug abuse or addiction, it makes those suffering more susceptible to lead down the path of destructive behavior. Depression and drug abuse both are able to be triggered by the inability to cope with life’s stressors. Life is a constant series of turning events and changes. For some, these constant moving parts of life are huge stressors. Without proper ways and understanding to deal or cope, anyone can fall victim to drug abuse or depression.

Below are several ways those suffering from depression may fall into substance abuse:

  • They may be afraid to ask for help. Depression can cause a loss of self-esteem, shame, or guilt. These feelings can cause them to withdraw from people and situations that may help or encourage them to seek out help. Therefore they may resort to a form of self-medicating to prevent asking for help.
  • They may not understand that they are suffering from depression. Mental illness, although talked about more frequently today, that has not always been the norm in society. There are many symptoms that someone may experience that seem quite common. For instance, many may have slight insomnia or general anxiety. Those who have insomnia may begin using stimulants to help them through their day. Others may realize that when they drink, their personality perks up for a bit. Neither substances are good ways of dealing.  
  • They may be apprehensive of being placed on medication for their depression. Prescription medication has several benefits towards treating ailments but does come with side effects. Those suffering from depression may fear the side effects and decide to attempt self-medicating with the incorrect assumption it is the safer route. 
  • The stigma of depression. Mental health awareness has improved but still carries a stigma within society. Those suffering from depression may fear judgment from others for seeking help, thus resorting to drug abuse to find relief from their inner demons. 
  • They may feel they do not deserve to seek help. Due to depression, causing feelings of being unworthy or diminishing their self-worth, they decide not to seek help. While depression causes these feelings, it puts those struggling at greater risk of drug abuse because they feel they have nothing to offer others. 
  • Those suffering from depression, may even feel that no one, not even medical professionals can help them. There is still the idea that therapy has no real substance or help to offer. This only leads those suffering down the path of self-medication. However, with proper treatment and help from medical professionals, depression can be conquered. 

Who is Most Likely to be Impacted by Drug Abuse and Depression? 

Depression and drug abuse can impact all people differently. However, some people are more likely to experience a dual diagnosis of both depression and a substance use disorder like drug abuse or alcoholism. 

Those most likely to be impacted by drug abuse and depression are listed below: 

  • Middle-aged adults between the ages of 45 and 64
  • Females
  • African Americans and Hispanics
  • People who are unable to work or who are chronically unemployed
  • People who lack private medical insurance or public health benefits

What is the Treatment for Drug Abuse and Depression?

Treatment for depression and drug abuse begins by first recognizing there is a problem. While acknowledging and admitting one’s addictive tendencies to drugs and/or alcohol, it is a bit different than battling clinical depression. Although depression and drug abuse may seem like one huge mountain to climb or battle to fight, it is worth doing so to break free of the prison of abuse and/or depression. 

Admitting to having a substance use disorder like drug abuse and/or alcoholism is not the easiest step in the process. Once you accept it and realize there you need help, that is where the revelations begin. Sometimes the overwhelming feeling of rock bottom will need to hit. 

Once there is admittance to drug abuse and depression, the next step is to receive a diagnosis from a medical professional. A dual diagnosis can be tricky to treat but not impossible. Due to substance abuse feeding depression and vice versa, the approach needs to treat both mental and physical hurdles. 

A proper addiction treatment facility is able to treat both disorders. They can manage the withdrawal symptoms from drug abuse to the mental obstacles from depression. A proper detox facility offers counseling as well as future planning for after receiving the initial detox treatment. 

Regular psychiatric visits and attending peer meetings like Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous are crucial for those who genuinely want to keep moving forward. It’s important to understand that drug abuse will only further depression, and depression will only cause the desire to abuse drugs. 

Certain goals are to be set while treating a dual diagnosis like depression and drug use. 

The goals recommended by SAMSA are listed below:

  • Helping those suffering understand depression’s nature.
  • That recovery is possible.
  • Motivating them to make the life changes necessary to recover.
  • Providing the skills and coping mechanisms to deal with negative thoughts and emotions.
  • Helping them to identify and change their addictive patterns in their behavior.

Treatment at Coastal Detox

At Coastal Detox, we can help with your battle against addiction. Although it seems like one long and hard uphill battle, we are here to help. We understand that admitting to depression and drug abuse is hard and realize the strength alone to admit it. However, we are here waiting to help you or your loved one. Contact us today at 1-877-978-3125 to discuss a treatment plan and begin a new and better path.