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Five of the Most Common Co-occurring Conditions

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Depression and Alcohol Abuse Dependency

Mood disorders, especially depression and bipolar disorder, are the most common co-occurring conditions with substance abuse issues. For example, at least 30-40% of people struggling with a depressive disorder will also battle an alcohol abuse dependency. The quintessential symptom of depression is an unrelenting inner critic that is often all-consuming. This ‘disturbance of self-regard’ is exhausting, and it inevitably provokes feelings of sadness and despair. 

People can then turn to alcohol for its sedative effect and for the fact it increases – albeit momentarily – feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine. That ‘break’ from the symptoms of depression can be highly alluring. However, alcohol is a depressant. This means that it will only worsen your depressive symptoms in the long term. Worse still, it can weaken your brain’s capacity for emotional regulation. 

It is common for people to suffer from undiagnosed depression, abuse alcohol to feel stable, and become trapped in the addictive cycle. At that point, they can only feel ‘normal’ when they are drinking because their symptoms return tenfold once they sober up.

That also means that while depression can increase your chances of developing an addiction, addiction can also increase your chances of developing depression. Hence, it can be a chicken or egg question. If you are in treatment for alcohol abuse dependency and experience depressive symptoms, it is essential to focus on dual diagnoses.

Depression and Prescription Medication Dependency

Similarly to alcohol, someone struggling with a depressive disorder is at an increased risk of developing a prescription medication dependency. Opiate prescription medications – like oxycodone or morphine have the highest addictive potential.

 If nothing else, depression is excruciating. The sedative component in prescription painkillers can help numb a person from that pain. The hopelessness and emptiness that depression creates can be so debilitating a person will struggle to get out of bed. But then, they can take these pills and suddenly function again. One can see how depression essentially sets the stage for addiction.

However, addiction can and often does occur when a person abuses prescription painkillers for a prolonged period. If you need treatment for a prescription medication issue, the treatment centre must cater to dual diagnoses and depression. Even if you overcome the addiction, it will be a lot harder – and maybe even near impossible – to remain sober if you do not treat the underlying depression.

Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol Abuse Dependency

Alcohol abuse dependency is a prevalent co-occurring condition in people who have bipolar disorder. When someone suffers from bipolar (regardless of the type), they fluctuate between manic episodes – characterised by high energy, excitement, insomnia, and euphoria – and depression, characterised by depressive symptoms like fatigue and feelings such as sadness and emptiness or hopelessness. Alcohol abuse is common in both stages of the cycle.

For example, if someone is in a manic episode, their energy can feel relentless. The sedative effect of alcohol can then feel as though it brings them relief. In many ways, mania is also akin to living in a state of wanting more intensity. As such, people are more likely to drink excessively. Then, as they go into the depressive episode, alcohol can help detach them from the difficult emotions. As alcohol momentarily increases feel-good neurochemicals, it can make people feel numb or separated from their depressive symptoms. That ‘break’ can also be highly alluring.

Consequently, alcohol can quickly become an unconscious coping mechanism used to try and control the cycles. If you are concerned (or know) that you may have both bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse dependency, it is vital to seek treatment that can cater to dual diagnosis. 

Major Depressive Disorder and Eating Disorders

Major depressive disorder is a common root cause of eating disorders. For example, research shows that 32- 39% of people with anorexia nervosa, 36 – 50% of people with bulimia nervosa and 33% of people with binge eating disorder also struggle with major depressive disorder. 

Similarly to other addictive substances and behaviours, an eating disorder often becomes a means of trying to manage the sadness and hopelessness that characterises depression. For example, if someone is battling undiagnosed depression, they often feel exhausted and as though they are losing control. An eating disorder becomes a way of trying to regain control over their own body and mind. Eating disorders are also highly time-consuming and can quickly become obsessive. This can also be addictive, as it gives the individual something to focus on outside of their depressive symptoms. 

Unfortunately, when major depressive disorder co-occurring with anorexia nervosa, it drastically increases their risk of suicide and decreases their chances of long-term recovery. Depression is often the root cause of the eating disorder, so it is vital to address the symptoms of depression before you even begin to tackle the eating disorder. 

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Cocaine Abuse

Studies show a potent link between ADHD and substance abuse, particularly cocaine dependency. One reason for this is that when someone struggles with ADHD, their brain does not produce enough dop

amine. As a result, they struggle with motivation, attention, and concentration. However, stimulant drugs increase dopamine levels in the brain and can thereby reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Hence, the most common prescription medications for ADHD have a stimulant quality to them, like Ritalin or Adderall. 

However, if someone has ADHD and it is either undiagnosed or struggling to keep it at bay, illegal and dangerous stimulants – such as cocaine or speed – can also seem like it is helping with the symptoms. For example, suppose someone is living with undiagnosed ADHD. In that case, when they consume cocaine, they might begin to feel ‘normal.’ Unaware that they have a mental health condition and are beginning the dangerous process of self-medicating, they perceive their ADHD symptoms to be flaws and the cocaine is actually helping them manage these issues. 

But of course, cocaine is a highly dangerous and extremely addictive substance. Over time, the individual will develop a tolerance and need to take more and more of it to acquire that feeling of normality. As a result, cocaine will begin to wreak havoc on your body and mind. Addictions also weaken our brain’s capacity to regulate our emotions, which will only worsen the ADHD symptoms in the long term. 

Hence, it is vital to ensure that your treatment provider caters to dual diagnoses. If ADHD is the root cause of your cocaine addiction, your chance of long-term recovery skyrockets once it is properly addressed.  



Paracelsus Recovery has services available in Switzerland and London. In Zurich, our alcohol rehabilitation programmes take place in our treatment centre. In London, we provide alcohol rehabilitation within your home, hotel or an apartment.
Following treatment, we recommend a carefully planned relapse prevention and aftercare programme. If recommended, family or couple therapy sessions can be organised to facilitate negative family dynamics.
Alcohol abuse can lead to lasting changes in our brain’s biochemistry. Biochemical deficits and imbalances caused by stress, substance abuse or unhealthy eating habits can lead to cravings, anxiety, depression and sleep problems. All of these will weaken our ability to fight off both physical and psychological ill-health. At Paracelsus Recovery, restoring the brain’s biochemistry is one of our top priorities when it comes to alcohol addiction treatment.
Harm reduction is a pragmatic approach to addiction that has gained widespread scientific support in recent years. It recognises that some people may not, or are not ready to, practice abstinence in their lives. Harm-reduction aims to minimise damage and to improve emotional wellbeing. If you would like to learn more about harm reduction, you can read about it on our blog.

Paracelsus Recovery provides the highest level of confidentiality. We treat one client at a time to ensure both privacy and maximum care. Amongst other measures, the client’s real name and date of birth are never used in company communications and employees have to sign a strict confidentiality agreement.



We treat clients with complete privacy and discretion in opulent surroundings. Depending on your specific needs, our inpatient treatment programs typically last four to eight weeks. We also have one-week Executive Detox Programmes available.

We offer the most comprehensive and intensive treatments available anywhere in the world.

Medical Check-ups
& Treatments
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Family Therapy
Intermittent Hypoxic
Hyperoxic Treatment
Probiotic Therapies
& Psychonutrition
Lifestyle &
Nutritional Counselling
& Bioresonance
& Acupuncture
Personal Training