Regardless of what you’ve heard, depression is more than just feeling sad or down.

Most individuals who struggle with depression experience their symptoms in different ways. Depression can interfere with your work responsibilities and other areas of life — causing you to lose time and fail to meet your daily obligations.

Depression can impact your relationships and even take a toll on your overall health.

This mood disorder may be described as feeling sad or lost, but the weight of depression is so much deeper. Why? Because depression isn’t just a simple condition with a known cause.

Some individuals are more susceptible to severe feelings of depression than others.

For individuals already struggling with addiction, depression can be a constant trigger that drives them to abuse substances and fall deeper into the depressive state they’re trying so hard to get out of.

How Does Depression Cause Substance Abuse?

Depression and substance use tend to go hand in hand. When compared with the general population, individuals who struggle with addiction are roughly twice as likely to have a mood disorder — like depression — according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. (1)

This link between depression and addiction is rooted in the idea that if you’re struggling with depression, you may drink or abuse drugs to lift your mood or escape from feelings of guilt or hopelessness.

Here’s the problem: Substances like alcohol, which is a depressant, can significantly increase your feelings of sadness or fatigue.

In addition, you can experience depressive symptoms after the effects of your substance use wear off or as you struggle to cope with how your addiction has impacted your life.

  • This is why so many individuals dealing with a depressive disorder start self-medicating to mute their emotions and avoid the realities of life.

Depression and Substance Use by the Numbers

Some of the more significant stats regarding depression and substance addiction include:

  • Up to one-third of clinically depressed people engage in drug or alcohol abuse.
  • In a nationwide study of 43,093 adults 18 years and older, researchers found that for those suffering from a current alcohol addiction, there was evidence that over 20% of them also met the criteria for that of a comorbid major depressive disorder.
  • Survey respondents in search of treatment for an alcohol use disorder were over 40% more likely than the general population to have at least one mood disorder.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse can worsen the course of a depressive disorder by aggravating the symptoms of depression, increasing the likelihood of hospitalization, and interfering with the course of treatment.
  • Data shows that a person who suffers from only depression or addiction is often more susceptible to the other condition by default. Depression increases the risk for addiction, and addiction increases the risk for depression.
  • Approximately 15 million Americans experience depression annually, and 33% of these people will attempt to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.(1)

How to Avoid Turning to Drugs or Alcohol to Manage Your Depression Symptoms

While the onset of depression can be hard to pinpoint, being prepared to handle the symptoms when they rear their ugly head is achievable. The key is to proactively address issues before they actually become a problem.

This can be accomplished by incorporating simple techniques into your daily routine that help you manage your emotions and provide healthy outlets to handle the problems you’re facing or may face in the future.

  • Consistent Physical Activity
    Exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do to manage your mental health and avoid self-medicating.
    Physical activity can help in the treatment and prevention of depression by increasing your oxygen intake and releasing endorphins, which help calm your depressive symptoms.
  • Building a Strong Sober Network
    Having a strong sober support network and an active social life are important for positive mental health and personal encouragement.
  • Research has shown that having consistent positive social connectivity can help protect against depression and keep you from relapsing if your depressive symptoms flare up.
  • Address Your Stress Proactively
    Persistent feelings of stress are one of the most common causes of depression. They tend to make a person physically overwhelmed and more susceptible to substance use. Learning how to manage and cope with your stress is essential for developing a healthy emotional perspective and managing the temptation to use.

Why Does Depression Cause Drug Use? A Co-Occurring Disorder May Be at Play 

A co-occurring disorder is when an individual struggles with both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder at the same time.

In the case of depression and substance addiction, the correlation between the two disorders is common and hard to ignore.

That’s why it’s so important to contact a treatment facility that’s clinically experienced in dealing with co-occurring disorders to address every symptom you’re struggling with.

This will allow you to get to the root of your problem; begin healing your mind, body and soul; and move toward a level of homeostasis that helps you get and stay sober.

Life-Changing Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

Dealing with co-occurring disorders in any form is an extremely difficult task, but there is proven, life-changing help for you. You can achieve mental stability; quit your addiction; and learn vital, effective skills to avoid a relapse.

At Ranch Creek Recovery, we take a holistic, non-12-step approach to drug and alcohol rehab and mental health disorders. The trauma you experienced and the addiction that may have entered your life have deeply affected your mind, body and spirit. Because of this, these vital pieces of your being must be given the support and nurturing they need to fully heal. We work with every aspect of you to ensure complete care and healing.

Learn more about Ranch Creek Recovery, including what we offer and what we treat.

Contact us today to get your questions answered.



1) National Center for Biotechnology Information. Major depression and comorbid substance use disorders. Accessed April 24, 2021.