Substance Abuse and Depression

How to help someone with drug addiction
and depression

  Oftentimes, people that suffer from addiction also suffer from a co-occurring mental illness. In fact, it’s very common for people to first suffer from a mental illness that causes people to abuse substances to cope and eventually develop a substance addiction. One type of mental health disorder that often co-occurs with substance abuse and addiction is depression. To thoroughly understand the connection between substance abuse and depression, one must first understand the signs, symptoms, and triggers of this co-occurring disorder. 

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder and mental health disorder that causes individuals to feel extreme feelings of sadness and hopelessness for long periods of time. Individuals that suffer from depression also usually lose interest in activities that were once enjoyable to them. Over time, depression can cause individuals to experience physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, heart problems, and diabetes. rehab centers for depression

To help individuals cope with these emotional and physical signs and symptoms of depression, many people choose to use substances. As a result, these people start to develop an addiction to these substances on top of their depression. Then, these individuals suffer from substance abuse and depression.

Severe depression that’s left untreated can cause individuals to commit suicide. Because of the horrid effects of depression, it’s important that people recognize the signs and symptoms of this disorder so that individuals that are suffering from depression can immediately receive treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

The signs and symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe. To be diagnosed with depression individuals must feel several of the following signs and symptoms nearly every day for months to years. 

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness
  • Irritability and anger
  • Loss of interest in activities that one once enjoyed
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Tiredness or lack of energy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Anxiety
  • Slowed speaking, thinking, and moving
  • Fixation on failures and past mistakes
  • Blaming oneself for anything that goes wrong in life
  • Trouble thinking or concentrating
  • Indecisiveness
  • Frequent thoughts of death and suicide
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unexplained physical issues such as sudden heart disease or diabetes

Prior to experiencing the signs and symptoms of depression, individuals are often triggered to experience depression. This is especially true for individuals that are already genetically inclined to suffer from the disorder.

What Triggers Depression?

what triggers depressionThere are many different answers to the question, what triggers depression. The exact triggers of depression depend on the individual. Some of the common triggers of depression include:

Negative Life Changes

When people experience sudden changes in life, it can cause them to become overwhelmed and, eventually, depressed. This is especially true if the changes in a person’s life aren’t pleasant ones. For example, a change in finances due to a person in the household losing his or her job can stress individuals out to the point of developing depressive symptoms. 

Another major life change that can trigger depression in someone is a negative change in a relationship. For example, a breakup with a romantic partner could make someone that’s already susceptible or genetically inclined to developing depression feel worthless. In turn, he or she starts to develop depression symptoms. 

A loss of a friend or family member due to death or dysfunction is also a negative change in relationships that can trigger depression. Negative life events such as the experience of trauma can also trigger depression in the right individuals. 

Positive Life Changes

When people ask what triggers depression, they often don’t reply with the answer, positive life changes. This is because people only associate negativity with disorders like depression. They forget to realize that any life change, whether negative or positive, can trigger depression symptoms. 

This is because the change in and of itself can be stressful and place people out of their comfort zones. For example, some people may experience depression symptoms after moving away from family or friends for school or a new job. 

Although the reason behind such a move is positive, the change itself plus the anxiety of having to learn how to function without the comforts of being close to one’s family members and friends can trigger depression. This is especially true for individuals that are already inclined to suffer from the disorder. 


Humans, whether introverted or extraverted, are social creatures by nature. Therefore, individuals that feel ostracized from society or alone in life for whatever reason can start to develop depression. 


As mentioned in the negative life changes section of this article, trauma is something that can easily trigger depression in someone. This is because trauma is the mind and body’s response to intensely stressful and harmful situations.

For example, many active soldiers and war veterans experience depression after going through the traumatic experiences of fighting for their lives. Individuals that are physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually abused in some way also often experience depression after their trauma.

Other Mental Health Disorders

substance abuse and depressionOftentimes, the symptoms of certain mental health disorders overlap. As a result, experiencing one mental health disorder can lead to the development of another. For example, many people that suffer from anxiety also later suffer from depression and vice versa. This is because both of these mental health disorders cause individuals to be pessimistic and worrisome.

Substance Use

Substance use is a common trigger for depression because it can alter chemicals in the brain that can cause individuals to feel depressed. Individuals with this condition must receive treatment at rehab centers for depression and substance abuse. 

What is Addiction?

Addiction is the inability to stop using substances. Addiction is also characterized by the willingness to do almost anything to get more substances, including hurting oneself and others. To be considered a drug addict, individuals must also suffer from drug dependency. Drug dependency is characterized by the experience of withdrawal symptoms anytime that someone minimizes or discontinues the use of a substance that he or she has been using. 

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

The signs and symptoms of addiction can be psychological, social, behavioral, or physical. Symptoms of substance addiction also vary depending on the substance that a person is addicted to.

Common signs and symptoms of addiction include:

  • Risky behavior
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Lying and stealing
  • Change of social circle
  • Troubles at school or work
  • Troubles sleeping
  • Financial issues
  • Irritability
  • Secretiveness

What Triggers Addiction?

Similar to mental illnesses like depression, many things can trigger addiction. Some common triggers for addiction include:


People often drink and use substances at parties and celebrations. As a result, parties and celebrations can easily become a trigger for addiction. This is especially the case for individuals that feel left out when they aren’t partaking in everything that is going on at a celebration or party.

Being Around Other Substance Abusers

Who people choose to surround themselves with often makes a huge impact on the decisions in life that they make. This is because social environments are huge influences on people. Therefore, if a person always chooses to surround him or herself with people that abuse substances, such an environment will often trigger substance abuse in someone that is already inclined to develop a substance addiction. 


Stress is a very common trigger for addiction. This is because people that feel stressed will often turn to substance use to cope. It provides relief, but only for a short time. 


Similar to stress, many individuals turn to substance use to cope with past trauma. This is often because using substances helps numb the pain or anxiety that individuals feel due to their past trauma. 

Mental Illness

Additionally, mental illness is a very common trigger for substance abuse. This is because many individuals also start using substances to cope with their mental illness. 

When individuals chronically abuse substances while suffering from a mental illness, it causes them to develop an addiction on top of their already occurring mental health disorder. Thus, such individuals develop co-occurring disorders. One of the most common co-occurring disorders is that of substance abuse and depression. 


Nothing good usually comes from people being idle for too long. That’s because many people make poor decisions when idle for too long. A common poor decision that people make when idle for too long is to use and abuse substances. Before they know it, they’re chronically abusing substances and have developed full-fledged addictions.


Loneliness is another common trigger for substance abuse. This is because people that often feel lonely contain a void within themselves that they need to fill somehow. Unfortunately, because lonely people don’t have others to turn to, they often turn to substances to fill that void. 

Substance Abuse and Depression 

Substance abuse and depression often co-occur for a number of reasons. For one, as mentioned in the respective triggers sections of this article, depression and substance addiction are often triggers for one another. Thus, chronically abusing substances can act as a catalyst for both addiction and depression. Suffering from depression can act as a catalyst for substance abuse and addiction. 

Substance abuse is a common catalyst for depression because chronic substance abuse causes chemical changes in the brain that trigger many of the depression symptoms. Some depression symptoms that many substances cause people to experience once it makes chemical changes to the brain include irritability, sudden weight loss or weight gain, lack of personal hygiene, anxiety, fatigue, and physical health issues. Substance abusers also often feel depression symptoms when they crash from their substance use.

On the flip side, many people that suffer from depression choose to use substances as a way to cope and mask their depressive symptoms. Unfortunately, chronic substance use often makes these depressive symptoms worse. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Drug Addiction and Depression

Struggling with substance abuse and depression is extremely difficult. Many people may wonder how to help someone with drug addiction and depression. The answer is professional dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis treatment programs are addiction treatment programs that simultaneously provide treatment for mental illness. 

It’s important to simultaneously treat a co-occurring mental health disorder and substance use disorder because of the fact that these two types of disorders often act as triggers for one another. Therefore, if a person tries to treat his or her substance use and mental health disorders one at a time, the untreated disorder will quickly trigger the reappearance of the treated disorder while one is in-between treatment programs. 

Receive Premium Dual Diagnosis Treatment At Grace Land Recovery

Grace Land Recovery is a premium dual diagnosis treatment center with individualized dual diagnosis treatment programs for a variety of substance addiction and mental illness combinations. Therefore, you can receive high-quality dual diagnosis treatment for your depression and substance addiction at our facility. 

Here at Grace Land Recovery, we also offer our patients numerous unique addiction and mental health treatment services. This includes everything from trauma and anger management therapy to relapse prevention, HIV education, and more. 

To learn more about Grace Land Recovery and the other addiction treatment programs and services that we offer, contact us today! Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day. You can also visit our treatment center Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm. 

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Individual, Couples and Family Counseling.

To learn more about our facility, feel free to contact us anytime. Our phone lines are open 24/7 just to take any calls that come our way. At Grace Land Recovery Center, we always put the needs of our patients first. Therefore, you can rest assured that you’re in compassionate and caring hands when receiving care at our treatment center. So what are you waiting for? Contact us and begin your journey to achieving sobriety today!

Call us today. 615-785-1137

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For Assistance to Emergency Addiction Issues or Answers to Inquiries, Contact Us

Grace Land Recovery Center is a dual diagnosis treatment center located in the Memphis, Tennessee area. Our address is 134 Timber Creek Drive Cordova, Tennessee 38018. To visit our treatment center during business hours, feel free to stop by anytime Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. You can also contact us over the phone at 615-785-1137.

Our phone lines are open 24/7 just so that we can receive any important calls that come our way. If we happen to miss your call, we’ll make sure to try to call you back immediately. Another way that you can get in contact with us here at Grace Land Recovery Center is through email; you can message us at You can also get in contact with someone at our facility by emailing

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