Addiction is a complex disorder and it isn’t always possible to identify the cause. However it is estimated that at least half of all people with a substance abuse disorder also struggle with an underlying issue such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or trauma. Underlying disorders are often undiagnosed and people may be completely unaware of the problem – they only know that life isn’t working the way it should. Addiction often results when people turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to bury (or self-medicate) emotional or mental pain and discomfort.
Drugs, Alcohol and Depression
Drugs and alcohol serve a purpose for people who feel depressed. They feel better after consuming alcohol or drugs. The problem is that this "feeling better" is short-lived because tolerance develops, people need more and more of the substance to achieve the same effect and thus become addicted. This is a detrimental vicious cycle, as addiction doesn’t solve the original problem of depression, but instead, makes it much worse.
Alcohol – Depressed people often turn to alcohol to “drown their sorrows,” or “take the edge off.” It’s true that a drink can temporarily ease stress and anxiety, but alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that can actually trigger negative emotions such as hopelessness, sadness or tiredness. Alcohol can also cause or exacerbate feelings of anger, aggression or anxiety.