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Co-Occurring Depression And Substance Abuse

When you hear the term depression, you likely think of someone who is sad or unhappy because they’re going through a hard time. Unfortunate events occur in everyone’s life, and it’s natural to feel dejected or troubled as a result.

But clinical depression is a much more serious situation. Your feelings are stronger and they can last weeks or even months. It’s not something you can easily snap out of, or something you just get over in time. Clinical depression can be emotionally, mentally and physically draining, and it can contribute to substance abuse if you turn to drugs and alcohol to help you deal with your feelings.

At Discovery Point recovery centers, we understand the importance of treating depression and other co-occurring mental health disorders along with your addiction. If we just treat the addiction and not the underlying cause, you have a much greater chance of suffering a relapse after you leave rehab.

What is a co-occurring disorder?

Nearly 9 million Americans live with a co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders may begin at the same time, or they may overlap. In other instances, one disorder may appear after or before the other disorder. With co-occurring disorders, there’s a particularly strong link between depression and substance abuse. Some 50% of individuals diagnosed with a mental health disorder will have a dual diagnosis with depression and addiction during their lifetime. 

What are the causes of clinical depression?

According to experts, there are many potential causes of depression. Some of the most common include:

Many people turn to drugs or alcohol to ease their depression, but research has shown that using these substances can actually make your depression worse – your bouts with depression may occur more frequently and your negative thoughts could become more intense.

Our team of clinicians and therapists at Discovery Point understand that this unhealthy cycle may have developed without you even realizing it. Perhaps you have never thought you needed treatment, or you’ve never received a diagnosis of mental health disorder. But once you identify the problem, dealing with it at the same time as your addiction is crucial to your chances of attaining long-term sobriety.

Which mental health conditions typically co-occur with substance abuse?

The frequency with which co-occurring disorders are diagnosed offers a great deal of insight into the types of mental health conditions that are linked to substance abuse.

Those individuals who are diagnosed with severe mental health issues are at an even greater risk for co-occurring symptoms and dual diagnosis with substance abuse.

What are the symptoms of mental health issues?

Mental health issues can include a wide range of symptoms, including insomnia or other changes in sleeping habits. Feelings of emotion with extreme highs and lows of intensity can lead to irritability, fear without cause, an inability to clearly focus or think, and self-isolating behavior. A person with mental health issues may lose interest in hobbies and interests that were once important.  

While there can be personality changes, the most common response is avoidance and denial. Mental health issues are associated with risky behaviors as well as delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia. It could be that there’s a marked lack of interest in personal hygiene. In more severe instances, a person may have thoughts of suicide or have already attempted suicide. 

What are the symptoms of substance abuse disorders?

The symptoms of substance use and abuse disorders can vary widely, partly because you could be using any number of different substances. In general, one of the most common signs of an addiction is when you’re having a difficult time with stopping the use of drugs or alcohol. You might experience withdrawal symptoms, so it’s progressively more difficult to function without the drugs or alcohol. 


It could be that you’ve noticed that it’s more difficult to complete tasks at home, work, or school. You may find that you can’t stop using the drug or alcohol even though you have physical or mental issues that are becoming more clear. As another symptom, you may be tardy or absent from school or work than is normal.


Your tolerance to alcohol and drugs may be such that you no longer appear affected by large doses. The signs of substance abuse can appear in other ways as well. You may notice that you are spending an ever-increasing amount of time getting, using, or recovering from the effects of drugs and alcohol.


Your substance abuse may be affecting your relationships with family members and friends. You may isolate yourself from family and friends. You may spend time with a different group of friends with whom you are freer to use alcohol and drugs without concern. 

Risky Behaviors

It could be part of a change in your behavior that includes taking part in risky behaviors. For those who begin driving under the influence or acting in other risky and dangerous ways, it may be progressively more difficult to stop. 

Some of these behaviors could be shrugged off as not affecting anyone other than yourself. Even if you tell yourself, it’s not affecting anyone else, ask your friends and family. You may find that they’ll tell you how your actions and behaviors are affecting them. 

These behaviors have real-world after-effects and consequences. You may have already seen how the progression of these actions and inactions can lead to homelessness, isolation, severe health issues, as well as the risk of arrest, attempted suicide, or even death. While substance abuse, alone, presents a struggle for recovery, the issues are further compounded when it’s a co-occurring disorder. 

How can dual diagnosis treatment help your co-occurring disorders?

Treatment can and does work, particularly when you’re facing something as complicated as co-occurring disorders. The best treatment options offer you a structured and supervised space where you can feel safe and protected while you work toward recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, treatment for depression as a co-occurring disorder should:

These are the powerful and effective elements that we’re able to offer you at Discovery Point Retreat. With our wealth of knowledge and experience, we offer hands-on clinical and therapeutic training that’s designed to meet the specific requirements of your co-occurring disorders. 

What does that mean? It means that we’ve got the experience to address your questions and concerns related to your dual diagnosis. We are also prepared to support your medical needs that can sometimes arise from depression and substance abuse, including medical support if needed. 

It’s our goal to make you feel as safe and supported as possible, with time and space to recover. We also offer flexible and affordable treatment options that are designed for you. We help you understand the triggers that are affecting your current condition. 

As you learn to identify and cope with those triggers, we’re able to develop a strategic treatment plan that will address your depression and substance abuse, as well as any other co-occurring concerns. You’ll soon know us and rely upon us as part of your trusted support system, dedicated to ensuring your return to sobriety, health, and wellness both now and in the future. 

How we treat depression at Discovery Point

At Discovery Point Retreat, we specialize in treating mental health disorders such as depression with a dual diagnosis involving alcohol or drug addiction. We incorporate programs such as individual and group therapy for addiction treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and more into your recovery plan. We make it easy for you to tap into the resources you need. 

We offer personalized treatment plans to support where you are in your recovery process. It’s possible that you’ve tried other programs in the past, or you’ve at least considered other programs. What sets our program apart is our focus on your health and well-being, with our unique dual diagnosis and treatment approach. 

We offer a welcoming and safe space that’s designed to support your needs, while helping you to work toward wellness and recovery. We’re here to help you achieve a successful and long-lasting recovery.

Call Discovery Point Retreat today to learn more about how we can treat your depression and substance abuse.


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