Substance use and mental illness have a strong connection, and it is no secret. It can be justified by a report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The report says that people dealing with mental health issues, such as depression are 25% more likely to consume alcohol, 69% more likely to consume cocaine, and 94% more likely to smoke cigarettes.

Both substance use disorder and mental health issues affect one another. For instance, people dealing with depression may start consuming alcohol to ease the symptoms. On the flip side, rigorous use of alcohol and drugs can develop depression and other mental health illnesses. This subsequent use of alcohol and drugs despite suffering from a mental illness is called a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. People with dual diagnosis are more likely to have major depression as a mental health issue.

To determine the signs and symptoms of depression, its relation to addiction, and the addiction treatment options, continue reading this blog.


One of the serious mental health disorders, depression frequently co-occurs with substance use. When a person feels sad, empty, or irritable all the time that it disrupts their ability to function, the condition is called depression. The way you think, act or feel changes due to this mood disorder. While depression is common in most youngsters and adults, it doesn’t have a single cause. Also, there are many factors that can cause depression, such as genetic, psychological, biological, and physical.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Mental health issues like depression can only be diagnosed by a medical professional. Yet, there are few signs and symptoms that may help recognize depression. These signs and symptoms include:

  • Decreased energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anger and irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Feelings of guilt and despair
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Restlessness
  • Persistent sadness
  • Increased body aches, pains, or soreness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lost in thoughts
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns

Depression or Addiction – What Comes First?

While it is difficult to predict whether addiction or depression happens to an individual first, the co-occurrence of both doesn’t mean that one caused the other.

The relationship between addiction and depression is strong because:

Common Risk Factors: Substance use disorder and mental health illness both have common risk factors. Whether it is genetics, environment, stress, or trauma, these factors affect the functioning of the brain and lead to either substance use disorder or mental health conditions, or both. Also, around 40-60% of people develop a substance use disorder because of genetic reasons.

A mental health issue may cause Substance use disorder: People with mental health disorders tend to use alcohol and drugs as a form of self-medication in order to eliminate the symptoms. Also, it only alleviates the symptoms for a while and worsens the depression, which can lead to the development of substance use disorder.

Substance use disorder can lead to mental health disorders: When a person misuses drugs or alcohol, the brain function gets affected and lead to impulse control. This process affects an underlying predisposition to a mental health disorder.

How do these Co-occurring Disorders Affect Treatment?

Co-occurring disorders demand extensive treatment. For example, participating in group therapy alone, or joining a luxury rehab only doesn’t help. People with co-occurring disorders need an integrated treatment plan which includes everything from medications to therapies.

Also, people with co-occurring disorders tend to have more complex symptoms than those who are dealing with substance use disorder or depression alone. The dual diagnosis patients tend to have:

  • Higher risk of suicidal thoughts
  • Increased mortality
  • Severe mood changes
  • Worse functioning
  • Increased psychiatric comorbidities

Treatment and Recovery Process


For co-occurring disorders, medications are proven to be useful and successful. Proper medications alleviate the negative symptoms of substance use disorder as well as mental health conditions.

Various medications that are found to be effective include:

  • Bupropion – Bupropion is an antidepressant that weakly inhibits the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine. It is particularly used for smoking cessation.
  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) – Another effective medication that is used to treat co-occurring disorder symptoms is SNRIs. They inhibit the uptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine.
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – SSRIs increase serotonin activity by inhibiting its reuptake. SSRIs are first-line medications for depression because of their security, acceptability, and effectiveness.


Behavioural therapy is another effective treatment option that works for both depression and substance use disorder. Also, behavioural therapy can be offered in a group or individual settings, including:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – A form of psychotherapeutic treatment, CBT is an effective mode of treatment for mental and physical health disorders. Through CBT, faulty thoughts, and behaviours are identified, challenged, and replaced with more realistic and positive thoughts.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) – Originally intended to treat borderline personality disorder, DBT is now extensively used for mental health disorders. It is a type of CBT and works to reduce behaviours and thoughts, such as self-harm.

Motivational Interviewing (MI) – Motivational interviewing is a counselling process where patients resolve their insecurities and find internal motivation to change their negative behaviours.

Rehabilitation Centres

Choosing a rehabilitation centre is often challenging. Hence, it is crucial to look for programs that provide treatment according to every individual’s needs. As co-occurring disorders need an integrated treatment plan, you must find a rehab providing these facilities.

Look for rehabs that provide holistic therapies such as:

  • Recreational therapy
  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Music therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Spirituality group therapy

Bottom Line

Depression and Addiction are related to each other. While there is no evidence that one causes another, the risk factors are common. The substance use disorder can lead to mental health issues and vice versa. Hence, look for a luxury rehab that provides co-occurring disorders and addiction treatment.