How Does Drug and Alcohol Addiction Cause Depression?

Drug and alcohol addiction contribute to depressive tendencies in two main ways:

  1. Addictions can cause devastating consequences in people’s lives such as loss of jobs and relationships, guilt, shame, family strain, financial hardship, and other severe stressors that are not easily resolved and understandably lead to extended periods of difficult emotions.
  2. The second way is biological. Substances such as drugs and alcohol are highly addictive because they trigger artificially high levels of neurotransmitter release in the brain, which leads to artificially inflated “feel good” feelings. Not only are these “highs” unattainable through normally pleasant stimulus and neurotransmitter release but users develop tolerance, which means that they need more and more of a substance to achieve those feelings. When the substance is removed, the “normal” levels of neurotransmitters in the brain are nowhere close to the levels triggered by the substance.

By comparison to being drunk or high, early sobriety is often experienced as a severely depressed state because the individual has become used to such unattainably and unnatural levels of neurotransmitter activity. 

At Castle Craig we treat patients with dual-diagnosis, who suffer from an addictive disorder (such as addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling) as well as related mental health problems such as depression. Contact us for specialised treatment for addiction and depression.