How Are Mood Disorders and Drug Abuse Related?

Mood disorders can occur before you or your loved one become addicted to drugs or alcohol. They can also develop as a result of not receiving care for the mental symptoms associated with drug abuse and during the withdrawal period that comes with detox.

Generally, the longer someone has been addicted to a substance, the longer it will take for them to fully recover. Though most physical and mental withdrawal symptoms can be taken care of in rehab, some mental symptoms can continue outside of rehab for weeks to months and require ongoing aftercare.

When you or your loved one has a mood disorder and a substance use disorder (SUD), you’ll be diagnosed with a Dual Diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. This means that you’ll receive specialized treatment for both disorders. Almost 32 percent of people with SUD have a mood disorder that also needs treatment.

Certain mood disorders are associated with a higher risk of drug and alcohol use, abuse, and addiction. The chance of relapse is greater when mental and behavioral disorders are treated before the substance addiction. Trying to self-medicate mood disorders can also lead to addiction. When you receive treatment for both disorders at the same time, there’s a higher chance of recovery.

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What are Mood Disorders?

A mood disorder is determined when someone is unable to control their mood and it causes problems in their everyday life. A mood disorder may wreak havoc on a person’s social life, career, relationships, and their bank account. As with bipolar disorder, the most common mood disorder to correlate with SUD, one may alternate between having manic and depressive episodes.

For two weeks at a time, a person with bipolar disorder may seem elated and energetic. They may be too energetic to the point where they are out of control and make big purchases and other impulsive and risky decisions. Then, they may have two weeks of depression, where they are tired and can’t get out of bed. Those with bipolar disorder often use stimulants and depressants during their episodes to cope with what feels like unpredictable moods.

Co-occurring disorders such as this one can be linked to the cause of substance addiction. If the mood disorder is managed first, the treatment for substance addiction can be more effective with a lesser chance of relapse.

Common Mood Disorders

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Dysthymia
  • Substance-induced mood disorder

Addictions

  • Alcohol
  • Stimulants
  • Hallucinogens
  • Opioids
  • Prescription medications
  • Depressants
  • Sedatives
  • Amphetamines

Why is Self-Medicating Dangerous?

Self-medicating a mood disorder can lead to the use of alcohol and drugs as medication. Not only is the risk of addiction dangerous, but using certain drugs—even prescription drugs—can be harmful to those with mood disorders. For instance, if you self-medicate with alcohol when you have social anxiety disorder, you may develop an addiction that leads to depression and worsened anxiety during detox. Self-medicating includes:

  • Drinking to combat anxiety
  • Taking more benzos such as Xanax before a panic attack
  • Using cocaine for energy and motivation for daily tasks
  • Using marijuana for emotional pain from trauma or grief
  • Drinking a lot of caffeine or coffee
  • Using a friend’s ADHD medication such as Adderall for focusing
  • Using over-the-counter drugs
  • Taking more opioids for chronic pain

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Signs and Symptoms of a Mood Disorder

A mood disorder can start as a result of substance abuse, and substance abuse can start as a way to cope with a mood disorder. If you haven’t seen your loved one in quite some time, they could be withdrawing themselves from family and friends, which is a common warning sign. Here are more signs that someone may have undiagnosed co-occurring disorders.

Warning Signs

  • Trouble managing daily tasks
  • Trouble managing finances or overspending
  • Neglecting work or school duties
  • Neglecting health and hygiene
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Impaired memory
  • Withdrawing from social events
  • Avoiding of help or treatment
  • Change in personality
  • Impulsive or illogical behavior

Mood Disorder Statistics

32 %

of people with SUD have a mood disorder that also needs treatment.

30-40%

of people have a depressive disorder and SUD.

56%

of people with bipolar disorder had a lifetime SUD.

What are the Treatment Options for Mood Disorders?

There are three treatment options for dual diagnosis disorder (also known as comorbidity). Sequential care treats mood disorders and SUD separately, while parallel and integrated care treat multiple disorders at the same time. Integrated treatment is known to have the most effective results, which is what we offer here at Gratitude Lodge.

Sequential

Some mood disorders require the SUD to be addressed before treating the mood disorder. For example, someone who is depressed from drinking may need to detox first, receive medication, and then treat their major depression disorder separately.

Sequential

Parallel

Unlike sequential treatment, parallel care treats mood disorders and substance simultaneously. Though a patient still receives therapy, doctors and therapists don’t collaborate and communicate as they do with integrated treatment.

Parallel

Integrated

Integrated care is for those with two or more types of mental illness or substance abuse. Multiple disorders receive coordinated treatment, bundled interventions, and health care providers collaborate in rehab.

Integrated

OUR APPROACH

At Gratitude Lodge, we have a professional staff to help treat your co-occurring disorders. The programs we offer include stress management, group therapy, individual counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, experiential therapy, relapse prevention, breathwork, and introduction to 12 steps, which is a spiritual-based program. Call us today to see if we can help with your individual situation.

Get Help with a Mood Disorder

To get help with a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis, find out if your rehab center offers integrated, sequential, or parallel treatments. If you’re not sure if you have a mood disorder, you’ll want to ask the questions below to ensure you’ll receive the proper care.

Questions to ask

  • How does your facility treat my mood disorder with my SUD?
  • Do you offer individualized plans for all residents?
  • Will I be evaluated by a licensed psychiatrist before admission into rehab?
  • How can I prevent relapse during rehab with my mood disorder?
  • Do you have referrals for aftercare?
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