How to Help a Loved One Who is Struggling With Depression and Addiction

helping a loved one with depression and addiction

Watching a loved one struggle with addiction is extremely difficult. They can have problems holding a job, maintaining personal relationships, and coping with daily life. These issues are magnified when they suffer from a co-occurring mental health condition like depression.

Oftentimes, addiction manifests as a coping mechanism for mental illnesses like depression. People struggling with depression feel overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness, isolation, and pain, so many self-medicate with alcohol and drugs to try and make themselves feel better.

If depression and addiction have affected your loved one, you may be wondering what you can do to help them.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to help a loved one who is struggling with depression and addiction. The first thing you should do is become educated on the disease of addiction and what exactly it means to have depression so you can understand what they are going through.

What is a Substance Use Disorder?

Addiction or a substance use disorder is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior, leading to an inability to control their use of substances. Addiction can be caused by many things, including genetics, childhood traumatic experiences, untreated mental health conditions, the over-prescribing of medication, and other environmental factors. If you believe that your loved one suffers from addiction, it is important to be aware of the symptoms.

  • Using a substance regularly, often multiple times a day
  • Having intense urges to use a drug that blocks out any other thoughts
  • Needing more of the drug over time to produce a similar effect (developing a tolerance)
  • Not being able to control when or how much you use a drug Spending a lot of time thinking about, obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of a drug
  • Not meeting personal responsibilities or work obligations as a result of substance abuse
  • Continuing to use the drug despite facing physical or psychological harm as a direct result
  • Going to great lengths to obtain a substance, such as stealing
  • Driving or doing other risky activities while under the influence of a substance
  • Not being able to stop using the drug despite attempts to quit
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the drug

What is Depression?

Depression is a mental health condition that affects the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. If your loved one suffers from depression, you might notice that they are constantly feeling sad, hopeless, defeated, or down. Depression can cause people to experience a variety of emotional and physical issues that can decrease their ability to function at work and at home.

If you are worried that your loved one is suffering from depression, look for the following symptoms:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Changes in appetite that leads to weight loss or gain
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy
  • An inability to sit still or slowed movements and speech
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, and making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

People living with untreated depression may look for ways to self-medicate their feelings. This can lead to the development of a substance use disorder. Studies show that 16.5 percent of individuals with lifetime depression had an alcohol use disorder and 18 percent had a drug use disorder.[2]

How to Help a Loved One Who is Struggling With Co-Occurring Depression and Addiction

If you notice the signs of depression and addiction in your loved one, you are probably wondering what you can do to help. While you must refrain from enabling their addiction, there are numerous ways to provide support and help them realize they require professional help.

Get Educated

The first step you should take when trying to help a loved one who is struggling with depression and addiction is taking time to learn about both conditions and how they are treated. When you are not aware of how addiction and depression affect people, it can be difficult to provide them with the right type of support. At the same time, your dedication to helping and learning can show your loved ones that you care about them and want to help them.

Stop Enabling

When you are trying to help your loved one overcome depression and addiction, you must ensure that you are providing them with the right type of support. This means stopping any enabling behaviors you have unconsciously engaged in. For example, providing them with money to support their drug habit is a form of enabling that prevents them from experiencing the financial consequences of their addiction.

Make sure your loved one knows that you want to help them get better, but that you won’t enable or tolerate their addictive or dangerous behaviors.

Take Care of Yourself

Part of being a solid support system for someone suffering from co-occurring disorders also includes practicing your own self-care. This could be as simple as taking the time to do things you enjoy or attending therapy and support groups for the loved ones of addicts. Once your loved one sees the effort you are putting into bettering yourself, they may become motivated to make some positive changes in their own life.

Offer Them Professional Treatment

One of the best ways to support your loved one is to motivate them to attend professional treatment. Dual diagnosis treatment programs for depression and addiction use a combination of evidence-based therapies that will help clients overcome their addictions and get their depression under control.

Stage an Intervention

If your loved one is repeatedly refusing treatment despite their struggles, it may be time to consider staging an intervention. Interventions are an effective way to make your loved one understand why you are concerned and why treatment is necessary. Interventions are most successful when they are guided by a counselor, addiction specialist, or professional interventionist.

Get Treatment for Depression and Addiction at Sheer Recovery

Depression is treated by correcting chemical imbalances in the brain, engaging in psychotherapy, making healthy lifestyle changes, and, if needed, taking antidepressant medication. Because addiction and depression have many overlapping causes and symptoms, they can be treated simultaneously at a dual diagnosis recovery facility.

If your loved one suffers from co-occurring addiction and depression, help is available. Dual diagnosis treatment programs like Sheer Recovery can provide your loved one with the tools and support they need to successfully recover from addiction, depression, and the root causes of their suffering.

As soon as you begin our program, our talented clinical team will assess your needs and design a tailored treatment plan just for you. Meanwhile, our exclusive 6-patient model ensures ample time spent addressing your needs in therapy so you can truly get to the root causes of your issues.

Our California depression and addiction treatment program is so effective that our clients experience over 16% more improvement in depression symptoms than the national average. After treatment, most of our clients report sub-clinical symptoms, and many achieve a full recovery.

Recovery is possible. Contact Sheer Recovery today to speak with a qualified admissions counselor and get started.


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