Depression, Is It to Blame for My Addiction?

Drug addiction impacts a person’s life in many ways. In turn, addiction’s effects can wreak havoc with your emotional well-being over time.

If you’ve been struggling with depression while living with an addiction problem, you’re not alone. Depression and drug addiction tend to go hand-in-hand, with feelings of sadness growing more and more intense the longer drug abuse continues.

Understanding how addiction and depression work together can be a good first step towards getting a handle on your addiction problem.

For information on addiction and mental health treatment programs, call our toll-free helpline at for assistance.

Depression and Addiction : Co-Occurring Brain Disorders

Over the course of a developing addiction, the drug’s effects create an ever-worsening state of chemical imbalance in the brain. This state of imbalance accounts for the changes in thinking, feelings and behavior that take shape along the way.

According to the University of Utah, addiction and depression act as two co-occurring brain disorders that aggravate one another over time. In effect, depression also breeds chemical imbalances in the brain; imbalances that combine with the effects of drugs to create an increasingly unstable chemical environment.

A Vicious Drug-Using Cycle

Is It to Blame

Depression and substance abuse fuel one another, causing increased chemical imbalances in the brain.

Considering how depression and addiction interact in the brain, it’s no surprise that their respective symptoms work together as well. In effect, depression exists as a primary withdrawal symptom regardless of the type of drug (or alcohol) used.

As most people abuse drugs to feel better or to lighten an unpleasant mood state, someone struggling with a depression disorder will likely turn to drug use more often than someone not affected by depression. As the drug’s effects continue to worsen existing brain chemical imbalances, this vicious drug-using cycle will only intensify with increased drug use.

According to the Journal of Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, co-occurring depression and addiction disorders not only aggravate one another, but their combined effects actually worsen the severity of both conditions.

Which Came First, the Depression or the Addiction?

While it only makes sense to blame depression for your addiction problem, it’s not necessarily that clear-cut in terms of which condition came first. Depression can most definitely drive drug-using behavior once it takes root, but that doesn’t mean it’s the cause or source of the addiction.

Some people have a predisposition towards substance abuse behaviors due to any number of reasons, including:

The same chain of events can also predispose a person to developing a psychological disorder like depression. Ultimately, in most cases, it’s all but impossible to pinpoint which condition caused the other.

How to Get Better When You Have Both Depression and Addiction

Treatment Considerations

The fact that you’re questioning whether depression is driving your addiction is a good sign that you know the addiction is getting worse. When depression and addiction co-occur, it’s almost a guarantee that things will only get worse from here.

For these reasons, it’s important to at least consider the need for some form of treatment help before the effects of addiction and depression take away your ability to do something about it.

Please don’t hesitate to call our help at if you need help finding an addiction treatment program.

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