Is Depression Driving Me to Opiate Abuse? Signs to Watch Out for

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An undiagnosed depression disorder can greatly compromise a person’s quality of life. Trying to cope with underlying depression may also incite unhealthy behaviors, such as opiate abuse, as a way to feel better.

Both prescription-based opiates, like codeine, and illegal opiates, like heroin, carry a high risk for abuse and addiction. Frequent opiate use over extended periods all but guarantees an opiate abuse problem will develop regardless of whether a person takes the drug for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Opiates easily infiltrate the brain’s chemical system and ultimately create an unstable chemical environment over time. Combine these developments with an underlying depression disorder and a person stands to experience the very worst of what these two conditions have to offer.

Being able to spot signs of depression-related opiate abuse early on can go a long way towards getting needed treatment help and avoiding the added complications that opiate abuse can bring.

Depression Triggers

Feelings of depression can develop for any number of different reasons depending on a person’s circumstances. Depression can also vary in degrees in terms of symptom severity, duration and frequency. According to Harvard Health Publications, conditions known to cause depression include:

Depression Driving

Chronic stress and genetic predispositions can cause depression.

  • Chronic stress
  • Past abuse
  • Genetic predispositions
  • Brain chemical imbalances
  • Physical disability

Once a depression disorder takes root, a person is likely to seek out ways to find relief which can be destructive in nature. In effect, symptoms of depression naturally give rise to maladaptive behaviors that only work to make the condition worse.

Call our toll-free helpline at 800-442-6158 Who Answers? to see if your insurance plan will help pay for your rehab.

Opiate Abuse as a Coping Mechanism

Opiates naturally produce pain-relieving effects due to their ability to stimulate endorphin production throughout the brain and central nervous system. Opiates also produce a few pleasurable side effects, such as feelings of contentment, calm and even euphoria. These unintended side effects play a central role in driving opiate abuse behaviors.

Once a person starts exceeding prescription guideline or using for recreational purposes, opiate effects wear away at the brain’s ability to regulate the body’s processes. In the process, the brain becomes increasingly dependent on opiate effects to function.

Before long, physical dependency gives rise to withdrawal symptoms, with depression being one of them. For someone already struggling with a depression disorder, these developments only work to worsen an already existing problem.

At this point, drug-using behaviors only intensify as a person now has to contend with uncomfortable withdrawal effects on top of depression symptoms. These conditions lay the groundwork for a vicious cycle of opiate abuse to develop.

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Signs to Watch for

  • Continuing to take pain medications after pain symptoms go away
  • Using opiates to cope during times of stress
  • Using opiates to enhance one’s mood
  • Getting into a pattern of opiate use
  • Anticipating the next drug dose
  • Drug cravings
  • Experiencing feelings of utter despair or hopelessness in between doses
  • Inability to stop using the drug

Treatment Considerations

According to Dartmouth College, depression and substance abuse disorders tend to go hand-in-hand simply because of the way these conditions feed off one another within the brain’s chemical system.

In the absence of needed treatment help, symptoms of depression will only worsen with time as opiate abuse behaviors give way to a full-blown addiction problem.

If you or someone you know struggles with depression and/or opiate abuse and need help finding treatment that meets your needs, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-442-6158 Who Answers? to speak with one of our addictions specialists.

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