In my city, like many cities in North America, the opioid crisis is affecting many people and taking many lives. I haven’t lived here for long, but it seems all types of people are suffering because of drug addiction. I just learned today of a person passing away from mixing cocaine and fentanyl; she was young and now she is gone. I didn’t know her, but I feel for her and her family.
It is known that depression and drug addictions go hand in hand for a lot of people. Often, people who are addicted have turned to drugs to relieve stress, trauma and were recreational drug users. The crisis isn’t only occurring in adults; adolescents are turning to drugs to self-medicate when they experience the symptoms of depression.
If you would like an in-depth study, you can take a free course on Edx, courtesy of Harvard University. I have taken it and it is well worth studying to know more about drug addiction and how to treat people with an addiction to opioids. It is highly recommended.
Drug addiction doesn’t discriminate, all socioeconomic classes are affected ranging from homeless people to doctors and teenagers addicted to prescription medicine. How much is too much in a prescription? There is debate going on now about restricting the use of opioids to treat pain because of the high potential for addictions to start by their use.
It is estimated that in the United States, over 1,000 people are treated daily in the country’s emergency departments for incorrect administration of an opioid based drug.
The effects of the dual-diagnosis of addiction and depression
Studies show that women suffer from depression first and men suffer with a drug addiction first. Many feel hopeless and lost and turn to the drugs to feel better, yet they feel worse in the end. A study conducted by the National Institute on Health found that one-third of people suffering from the mood disorder had struggled with an addiction. Men who were addicted to alcohol were diagnoses three times as much as the general population.
Children of people who are addicted are at risk of developing the same addictions; they are also at a higher risk for developing a mood disorder. In an article written by Dennis C. Daley, Ph.D, he sums up the effects of addictions and depression on a family:
“clients with addiction and depression are at higher risk for suicidal and homicidal behaviors, poorer treatment adherence, higher relapse rates to either disorder, and higher re-hospitalization rates (Cornelius et al, 1997; Salloum et al, 1996; Daley & Zuckoff, 1998 & 1999).”
Not only does an addiction and mood disorder affect a family, it affects the local community as well. People who are untreated may not be able to show up to work, school or important events. Locally, the prison has been under investigation involving eight prisoners who died from an overdose. Medical personnel were questioned, and one nurse agreed that communication when an overdose occurs needs improvement. It was said that the problems in the community are now in the jail.
Of course, when news spreads of an overdose in a community it can frighten people and sadden people when it has lead to death. It is important to realize the seriousness of mental illness and drug addiction in combination with one another.
Help for people with concurrent diagnoses
Some people have difficulty finding the help they need for recovery because some institutions or places of help demand that a person be free from drug addiction before they can receive treatment. Having depression and a drug addiction can be difficult to be treated separately because they both affect each other. It seems like double the pain for addicts and persons with a mood disorder. The symptoms of both can be debilitating and the worst consequences of each is death from the condition.
More public awareness is helping to educate people about depression and addiction. There are conversations occurring world wide on how to view addictions. Some people may be afraid to ask for help because illicit drugs are illegal, but some cities are providing immunity in certain cases where drugs are found on the scene of a medical emergency. It is called the Good Samaritan law.
Good self-care can help tremendously as well. Some tips from Psychology Today include:
- Get some sunshine
- Make attainable goals
- Stand up and ground yourself
- Get help from a professional
Using illicit drugs and alcohol can make depression worse even though the person may feel the drugs will make them feel better; it is a dangerous combination that left untreated can lead to serious consequences. Alcohol is a depressant that also impairs good judgment; being intoxicating increases the risk of a suicide attempt.
When seeking help from professionals, it is best to ask if they are qualified to help in both areas of addictions and depression. It is important that they both be treated at the same time.
If you are in need of help for suicidal thoughts please visit suicide.org where you can find the resources such as hotline numbers to help with your crisis.
Would you like someone to talk to for free? Visit 7 Cups to talk to an active listener and you can be referred to a therapist if needed.