Does alcohol and drug abuse lead to depression, or are depressed people more prone to substance abuse? Both are possible but often the depression comes first. Alcohol is a depressant that only makes you more depressed and increases the number of times you have severe depression. At least 30 to 50 percent of people who drink too much are also depressed. Drinking alcohol also makes antidepressant medications less effective.
Depressed people who drink or use drugs are more likely to commit suicide.
Alcohol and drug abuse are second only to depression as the most frequent suicide risk factor. About 75 percent of people who died by suicide had one or more drugs in their body. Many had taken both drugs and alcohol.
Prescription drugs are far more likely to be involved in suicides than illegal drugs. About 80 percent of drug-overdose suicides are related to prescription drugs.
Alcohol and some drugs reduce inhibitions, making it easier to do something you wouldn’t do if you were sober. If sober, you wouldn’t even think about suicide.
But, if you have been drinking or are high on drugs, it is easier to act on an impulse, go against your good judgment and harm yourself or others.
Men are more likely to feel shame about their depression and try to tough it out.
They more frequently use alcohol or drugs as a way to lessen the depression. This is especially dangerous because men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women.
Drinking to “self-medicate” does more harm than good. The “high” from drinking alcohol only lasts a little while and afterwards the depression is worse. The dangers of trying to lift your depression with alcohol or drugs include: Accidents, car crashes, arrests for drunk driving. Liver damage, brain damage, some cancers, addiction. Breakdown of relationships at home, work, with friends. Increased risk of suicide; violence toward others. Financial burdens; inability to support your family
There is a strong link between depression, alcohol and drug abuse. One may cause the other; one certainly makes the other worse. When depression, drugs and alcohol are connected, they cause mental pain and too often cause suicides. Find out how they are connected and where to get help.
If you are struggling with depression or overuse of alcohol or drugs, there is help and hope. Please call these free helplines, names are not required. Arkansas Crisis Hotline 1-888-274-7472. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.