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Integrated Treatment for Depression and Painkillers

Mental and substance use conditions often co-occur; in other words, individuals with substance abuse conditions often struggle with mental health conditions at the same time, and vice versa. To address these problems, integrated treatment manages co-occurring conditions at the same time. By treating these conditions simultaneously instead of one at a time, experts at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) say that people are more likely to overcome depression and to stay abstinent from painkillers[1]. To learn more about integrated treatment and how it can help you overcome problems with depression and painkillers, read on.

Depression and Painkillers: Grim Statistics

Disappointment and grief are unavoidable. Even people who seem to lead charmed lives often suffer from these problems secretly. However, for most individuals, the blues pass. When they do not, and painful negative emotions fail to recede with time, clinical depression may be to blame, and it may interfere with daily function and one’s ability to maintain normal responsibilities. Every year, approximately 15 million Americans—one in 10 adults—suffer from bouts of clinical depression, but the picture is even grim on a global scale: according to estimates from the World Health Organization, depression will be the world’s second most common health problem by 2020[2].

Integrated Treatment for Depression and Painkillers

Some people confuse feeling “down” with real depression, yet the two emotional states are decidedly different

Some people confuse feeling “down” with real depression, yet the two emotional states are decidedly different. Clinical depression (which is also called major depression, major depressive disorder or clinical depression) impacts the mind, body and spirit. It is neither a character weakness nor a negative state that someone can “snap out of” by putting on a smile. Rather, doctors at the Mayo Clinic describe depression as a mood disorder that generates persistent feelings of sadness and apathy[3]. These symptoms affects the full range of human experiences from emotions and thinking to behavior and physical health. When people become mired in this state of hopelessness, it may feel impossible to tackle daily activities. In short, if you leave this problem untreated, then you may warp your mind into believing that life is not worth living.

Many people who struggle with depression remark that the condition sneaks up on them, which makes it difficult to detect in its early stages. Nevertheless, the following warning signs almost always signal this condition:

  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Feeling helpless and hopeless
  • Appetite or weight fluctuations
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Guilt
  • Distractability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Aches and pains
  • Reckless behavior

Desperation to escape the pain of depression leads some people to abuse painkillers. At first, the pleasurable, dissociative feeling that comes from taking high doses of opiates provides false relief, but the high wears off and eventually boomerangs. Statistics cited by the National Alliance on Mental Illness show that people with depression invariably erode their mental health if they self-medicate their pain with painkillers. For instance, during episodes of acute intoxication, a depressed person may become suicidal; also, an individual who is prone to anxiety may be more likely to experience panic attacks when high on drugs. Furthermore, people who are vulnerable to depression, perhaps because of genetic background, can even trigger the onset of symptoms for the very first time when they take heroin. A vicious cycle ensues as a result: as depression worsens, painkiller abuse escalates, which only exacerbates depression and so on. In short, living in a constant state of intoxication and hangover ends up deepening depression.

Integrated Treatment: Comprehensive Treatment

The best way to recover from the co-occurring disorders of depression and painkiller addiction is to attack both of them at once. Research reveals that people who receive care for both problems at the same time are more likely to maintain recovery than people who treat just one condition at a time. With that decision made, the next critical choice is to find the right rehab center for your needs. According to SAMHSA, the best integrated treatment facilities center treatment around particular factors[4]. Several effective treatment methods include the following list:

  • Partnership between patient and caregivers
  • Ability to share decision-making, goal setting and the development of long-term strategies
  • Care for both the substance abuse and mental health problem
  • Thorough psycho-education about depression and painkiller addiction
  • Stress management training and coping skills

Treatment facilities that diagnose and treat co-occurring problems usually launch recovery with detox. Studies show that psychiatric treatments are less effective when people abuse drugs, so comprehensive treatment for co-occurring conditions usually includes medical and psychiatric assessments, detox, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, family therapy for affected loved ones, spiritual guidance and training to prevent relapse. One important fact to note is that treatment for co-occurring disorders typically takes longer than treatment for single addictions. They also yield more recovery progress that is more gradual. In other words, it may take some time to recover from your diagnosis, but you can do so with the right help and adequate time.

Help for Depression and Heroin Addiction

If you or someone you love struggles with a heroin addiction and depression, then you are not alone. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can guide you to wellness, so you never have to go back to a life of addiction. Please call now to start your recovery today.


[1] Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/co-occurring

[2] Retrieved from http://www.who.int/en/

[3] Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/definition/con-20032977

[4] Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/dual_diagnosis.htm