Depression – The First Step Towards Addiction?

Addiction and depression seem to go hand in hand. They even share some of the same symptoms, such as lack of interest in previous hobbies, feeling of helplessness and lack of motivation. In fact, many rehabilitation methods, including 12 steps treatment, focus on dealing with depression and raising self-esteem. Long term sobriety is very difficult to achieve without dealing with the triggers which can result in relapse; including depression. 

Many addicts find the idea of life without drugs a daunting prospect and struggle to cope. Yet, dealing with depression is essential for long-term recovery from substance abuse. Doctors often refer to having depression and an addiction as a dual diagnosis.

So why is it that those with depression have a higher chance of having an addiction? It isn’t always clear which comes first, there is a definite chick and egg scenario being played out. Sometimes depression can lead to addiction and sometimes addiction can lead to depression. The root causes of addiction and depression vary from person to person. Depression and addiction also share many of the same triggers. What is clear is that the result is a vicious cycle that develops as a result; where drugs or alcohol are used to help beat the depression, but ends up making it worse.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The most important step in addiction treatment is to break this cycle. Therefore, both the addiction and depression need to be treated to ensure long term recovery. The first step is detoxification; removing all traces of the drugs from the body. Only once this step is achieved can a patient fully begin to confront any psychological issues that may be contributing to their addiction.

Some other methods of treatment that can follow include psychotherapy, stress management techniques and the Minnesota 12 step model, combined with any medication that an overseeing doctor recommends.

Dealing with Depression

Whilst it may not be clear which condition comes first, it is clear that recovering from addiction is rarely achievable without dealing with the depression. It is also clear that those with depression are far more likely to be addicted to a substance. Whilst rehabilitation treatments can help deal with this, there are simple things that you can do yourself to make life more fulfilling.

See a Doctor - Many will feel embarrassed about seeing a doctor for depression or think that they are wasting their time. However, they are there to help you and the chances are that you are not the first person they have seen with similar symptoms.

Set Goals - Make a list of ways that you would like your life to improve your life and form a step-by-step plan on how you can achieve your goals. This can often help prevent the triggers that lead to depression. Start with very small steps and remember to be patient and realistic.

Get Active - Exercise releases natural anti-depressants into your body. Get regular exercise and don’t worry if you’re out of shape, start off with a gentle stroll and work your way up. Combine it with a hobby to do something you enjoy.

Routine – Get a good night’s sleep and get up at roughly the same time every day.

Diet – Try to eat healthily. Cook proper meals and avoid junk food when possible.
Stay social – Many with depression withdraw from their social circles. Spend time with your friends and family and they will cheer you up. Try not to compare your life to others, focus on your own goals and self-improvement.

Author Bio: Darren Rolfe runs Cassiobury Court, a residential rehabilitation clinic based in the UK, which use holistic treatment to combat stress as part of their addiction treatment.
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