It’s no surprise that depression and substance use are strongly linked. Sometimes, substance abuse is present first and the negative consequences of addiction leads to depression. However, addiction experts believe that for many people, depression is there first and serves as a primary underlying cause of substance abuse that eventually leads to chemical dependency.
Alcoholism often results when people “drown their sorrows,” not realizing that alcohol, in itself, is a depressant. In fact, research indicates that as many as one-third of depressed people also have a problem with alcohol abuse or addiction. On the other hand, some people use cocaine, amphetamines or other stimulants to lift depressed spirits.
Chemical dependency occurs when people use alcohol and drugs to escape the painful feelings of depression. Addictive substances, as well as addictive behaviors such as gambling, shopping, pornography use or overeating, provide temporary relief from the overwhelming sadness. However, the good feelings are short-lived and depression worsens as addiction escalates, along with financial, legal, medical, emotional and social consequences.