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.

Prescription Drugs are a Growing Epidemic and Frequently a Gateway Drug

Guest Post By : Emma Haylett

Prescriptions drugs can be incredibly addictive, but many people are lured into a false sense of security thinking if their pills are prescribed to them, they must be safe to take.

Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true. In a quiz by the University of Buffalo of 75 patients being treated for opioid detoxification, 31 of them first became addicted by taking pill prescribed to them by a doctor legitimately for pain. Another 24 began their addiction by taking pills a friend was prescribed while only 20 of the patients were hooked from taking street drugs.

Over half of the respondents said they first started taking pain medication after a surgery, because of an injury, or because they suffered from back pain.

How does a prescription lead to increased use?
The problem with narcotic painkillers is two-fold. First, an increased tolerance to opioids can happen very quickly and users will need a higher dose to achieve the same effect. In addition to an increased tolerance, many people experienced a psychological tolerance as well and become desensitized to the effects of the drug. Often Tolerance is a key indicator to addiction.

The second issue associated with opioid use is; as the addiction grows users believe they need to take more of the drug due to intensifying pain, when in reality withdrawal can be causing the increased cravings.

Why do doctors keep prescribing these pills?
A rise in pain pill prescriptions was driven, not surprisingly, by the pharmaceutical industry, but many patients helped and even encouraged the drive.

Although there are a number of ways to treat pain, especially some of the most common sources of pain in the United States—like back pain—many patients aren’t interested in repeat treatments or referrals. Instead of visiting a chiropractor, massage therapist or using acupuncture to treat pain many patients opt for medication instead.

What can be done to slow the epidemic?
The F.D.A. is working to curtail long-term prescriptions, and in a proposal that could take effect in early 2014, doctors would no longer be allowed to write six month prescriptions for addictive drugs like Vicodin. 
Instead doctors could only prescribe up to a 90 day supply, after which the patient would have to return to their physician for an in-office visit.

The F.D.A. also recommended prescription narcotics be produced in a manner that is more abuse-resistant.

Will limiting prescription availability lead to other problems?
Many experts claim prescription pain pills have become a gateway drug. If a patient’s doctor begins to refuse to refill or increase their prescription many people turn to illegal drugs to satisfy their cravings.
Some people have turned to drugs, like heroin specifically, because pharmaceuticals have followed the F.D.A.’s recommendation to produce narcotics in an abuse resistant manner which made pill difficult to crush for injecting or snorting.

Other people turn to street drugs after they’ve been labeled as ‘drug-seeking’ and their doctor becomes unwilling to continue to prescribe them pain medication or are unsympathetic toward their pain. In some cases insurance companies stop covering the cost of the pain medication altogether. As a result of one or more of the above issues some people will turn to drugs like heroin or cocaine to cope with their addiction.

Author’s bio: Emma Haylett is a Certified Prevention Specialist Intern and graduate students. Emma helps coordinate a non 12 step recovery program for addicts and families of addicts