You may know someone who demonstrates depression symptoms and drinks or uses illicit substances to “feel better.” A loved one may drink or use and then become moody or depressed. The two disorders can occur together and increase the severity of one another. This is not to say that the depression was the egg coming before the addiction (the chicken) or vice versa. Both disorders are thought to have an underlying genetic component to them. Alcohol and drugs change the brain as time goes on; self-medicating can increase the symptoms of depression. The reward pathway that could be stunted due to clinical depression may light up when substances are utilized, which increases the desire to continue using illicit substances and alcohol.

How Can I Tell If My Loved One is Depressed?

Everyone has times where they feel blue. Each of us experiences grief and there are days that do not turn out the way we hoped that they would. However, this in itself does not constitute a depressive disorder diagnosis. True clinical depression is thought to occur due to a combination of hereditary, biological, environmental, and mental health factors.

Some reasons your loved one may have an increased predisposition to depression include:

  • Having a family history of depression;
  • Undergoing something traumatic, which may include the death of someone they cared for greatly, financial troubles, or undergoing an assault or abusive situation;
  • Any big change, as life alterations are scary and require time to adjust, regardless of whether or not the change was planned;
  • Medical issues or medication side effects; and/or
  • Substance use or drinking.
Co-morbidity Between Depression and Substance Use Disorders

One out of every six adults is diagnosed with depression at some point in their life. Sixteen million adults have identified annually as having a depressive disorder. If your loved one’s symptoms last for an extended length of time and begin to interfere with their realms of life, such as social, hygiene, work, and school, you may want to consider having them undergo a psychological evaluation to see if it could be caused by clinical depression.

Some symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling empty, sad, or nervous for an extended period of time;
  • A lack of interest in activities they once found enjoyable;
  • Reacting in an irritable or frustrated manner;
  • Restlessness;
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep;
  • Over-sleeping;
  • Waking up earlier than usual;
  • Lack of appetite;
  • Self-harm;
  • Difficulty making up their mind;
  • Struggling to focus;
  • Memory issues;
  • Fatigue, regardless of sleeping well;
  • Physical aches and pains, especially in regards to the stomach or the head;
  • Guilt, feelings of being irrelevant, powerlessness;
  • Low self-esteem; and/or
  • Suicidal ideation, intent, or plans. If this is the case, please make sure to call for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK or you can call 911. It’s not always a cry for attention!

Therapy and medication can help your loved one cope with the symptoms of depression.

Do Not Let Your Depression Keep You Self-Medicating

If you, or a loved one, has been abusing cannabis, opioids, alcohol, or other illicit substances to “treat” symptoms of depression, contact the Discovery Place in Burns, Tennessee today at 1-800-725-0922. We are easy to reach from Memphis or Nashville. Our trained professionals are on standby to help you and your loved ones twenty-four hours a day. We know that addiction affects the whole family and that family support helps the healing process.


  • Discovery Place was the answer for my son. He did the 90 day and then the step down program and sober living. We give this organization 10 stars. They met my son where he was …emotionally, mentally, physically. They helped him put his life back on track. Discovery Place employees care about their guests. If your son, brother, nephew, grandson or husband needs excellent supportive care THIS is indeed the facility.

    Kim Morton
    Alumni Parent
  • I have remained sober and it is because of DP. DP is the best place there is, hands down. I keep everyone there in my prayers, and I encourage everyone there to take what they are practicing and do it in their lives, after.

    Roy Mantelli
  • Over the past year, I’ve been putting into actin what Discovery Place taught me, and I have experienced a complete perspective change of the world, and the people in it. I get to be a man of service and love today, and for that I am grateful to Discovery Place.

    Matt Kassay
  • Discovery Place means the world to me. They showed me the tools that I’ve tried to use everyday in my life to think less often of myself, and more frequently of others. I am learning to lend a hand when I am able and to have a honest and humble relationship with God and the people around me. Not only am I clean and sober, but also I am happy and fulfilled.

    Tommy Parker
  • Discovery Place and the men who work there made recovery attractive, and more importantly, fun. There is strength in the struggle. I am forever grateful for my time at Discovery Place.

    Creed McClellan
  • When I got to Discovery Place my whole life was in shambles, but I didn’t know it. I spent 6 months in their programs, participating in all three phases, and was met with kindness and love all along the way. It is unbelievable to me, where I am now relative to where I was when I arrived at DP.

    Lance Duke
  • I can never say enough good things about Discovery Place and the people who work there. Before checking in to DP, I was out of options and out of answers. Fortunately, Discovery Place has a solution. Taking suggestions from the staff at DP saved my life, and as a result, I’m now more content and hopeful about life. I’m grateful for Discovery Place showing me how to live a healthy life so that I can become a better man and help the next guy.”

    Tyler Buckingham

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