Some people use because they are depressed and some are depressed because they use. Abuse and dependence on drugs can change your brain in three ways. The first is by impersonating your brain’s neurotransmitters. Marijuana and opiates like heroin trick your brain into sending false signals. When the drugs are removed, you brain will struggle to return to typical operations allowing depression to take hold.
The second way substances can trigger depression is by overstimulating centers of your brain. Drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine flood your brain with a huge amount of neurotransmitters that cause feelings of pleasure and happiness. After using these drugs for a period of time, common, everyday events no longer create the same levels of enjoyment as they once did because your threshold has shifted. If everything seems mundane, ordinary or disappointing, depression moves in.
The final way AOD invite depression is by changing the structure of your brain. Prolonged alcohol use can change the structure of your brain by adding more receptors for desired neurotransmitters. With the increase, the receptors begin to outnumber the neurotransmitters that can fill the receptors. Empty receptors lead to feelings of depression.
What to Do?
The good news is that the same methods used to treat depression without substance abuse are effective in treating depression with substance abuse. Having a therapist, a psychiatrist and an addiction specialist will ensure that all aspects of your mental health and well-being are addressed. Building and developing new coping skills will be a focus of your appointments.
Depending on the duration of your addiction, your treatment may be more involved or require other specialized interventions like detoxification or a drug management program. Always be sure to communicate your level of AOD involvement to your therapist. Be aware that some medications prescribed for depression can interact poorly with AOD, so honesty is essential with your psychiatrist.
Substance use, abuse and dependence are common in people with depression. The importance of working to identify the level AOD you experience cannot be overstated. Denial of addiction ensures failure. By being honestly objective with yourself while listening to the concerns of trusted supports, you can change your course. Defy the odds by ending addiction before it begins.