Drug addiction and depression go hand-in-hand. For our first responders, coping with what they see daily is hard. It's often more than anyone can bear. When people want to escape the world because of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders, they sometimes turn to drugs to chase bad feelings away. Unfortunately, this may lead to worse habits along the way.
If you know someone who is suffering from drug addiction and depression, you can help them. Here's what you need to know about supporting the people you love the most.
Can You Help Someone with Drug Addiction and Depression?
Yes and no. The answer isn't simple. If someone wants help for drug addiction and depression, they'll accept it and let you help them. If they aren't ready for help, you may push someone further away from recovery.
Understanding the early signs of depression and drug addiction is critical if you think someone you love might be struggling. By seeing the symptoms early, you can reach out and let them know you're there to love and support them no matter what.
Symptoms of Depression and Drug Addiction
Many people who suffer from depression turn to drugs and alcohol to "feel better." Dual diagnosis between mental health and substance abuse is on the rise throughout the United States. More than half of those suffering from addiction are also diagnosed with mental illness.
Mental illness creeps up on those suffering from it. It doesn't happen overnight. The same is true for substance abuse. Small signs and symptoms begin appearing as a person starts to fall deeper into each. Keeping an eye out for those signs and symptoms can be life-saving in offering your love and support to a first responder in need.
If you are worried someone you love is suffering from drug addiction and depression, look for the following signs:
- Changes in appearance, such as sudden weight loss
- Lack of sleep or changes in sleeping patterns
- They make plans without telling anyone
- They miss family events or work without a reason
- They seem anxious or fidgety more often
- Apathy towards the things they love
- Low energy levels
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden emotional outbursts (especially anger, resentment, and jealousy)
- Trouble concentrating at home and work
Someone suffering from drug addiction and depression may know something is wrong but not realize they're doing more harm than good. Even if drugs make them feel better physically, the emotional and mental turmoil is still there. They will turn to more drugs to make those feelings go away, eventually leading to severe health issues, suicidal ideation, and potentially overdose.
Every person goes through depression and drug addiction differently. Sadness drives them to use. Relapses set them back. Withdrawals make them want to keep using. Different triggers at work will set them off.
You know the people in your life the best. If you notice something off about them, trust your gut. Ask them how they're doing. Check-in on them often. Listen to what they have to say and watch how they cope with what life throws at them. They may be asking for help without verbally asking for help. Those signs and symptoms you see – that's how they're asking.
What You Can Do to Help Someone with Drug Addiction and Depression
The best thing you can do for someone suffering from drug addiction and depression is let them know you're there. Let them know you're not going anywhere.
Many suffering from drug addiction and depression believe if people find out they're not at their best, the people around them will leave them. For first responders, they're terrified that their coworkers will see weakness in them because of these struggles. They internalize what's going on and fail to seek help. This makes asking for help even harder for first responders.
Be there to support your loved ones. Listen to them when they speak. Never try to solve their problems or offer single-minded solutions. When they're ready to get help, they'll seek it. Pushing them into doing this or going along with that will only drive them further away from you. Your support comes from the strength you give them to be heard.
Ensure you're not enabling them by ignoring their issues or taking care of problems that pop up because of depression and drug abuse. Setting boundaries is one of the best tools you have at your disposal when supporting someone struggling like this.
You want to let your loved ones know you are there for them without enabling or allowing bad behavior to continue. Ensuring they know how much you care, what you can offer, and that you won't enable their behavior is crucial for them to have the confidence to seek help.
When your loved one sees how many family members genuinely care about them and what they're going through, they'll be more open to treatment and sobriety. They'll be more open to reaching out for professional help, like support groups, therapy, counseling, and more. They'll be more willing to see the light at the end of the tunnel with your intervention.
They are in control of their treatment. You'll be there every step of the way, but you can't force them to stop using drugs or get help to overcome depression. This boundary is essential for you and for them to understand from the get-go when you decide to step in and offer support.
When they're ready, there are various options out there, like treatment facilities, medications, and professionals ready to help them every step of the way.
What to Do When You Can't Help Someone with Drug Addiction and Depression
Just because you love and support someone doesn't mean that's enough to get them through drug use and depression. Sometimes they need more than what family, friends, and coworkers have to offer. There is no shame in not being enough to help someone get through a difficult time. Recognizing that the person you love needs more help than you can offer is an important realization to accept. Once you've accepted it, you can get them the help they need through other resources, like First Responders First.
First Responders First understands the emotional turmoil you're going through, wanting to help your loved one through substance abuse problems and depression. We want to help get your first responder back on their feet and teach them coping skills to help them move forward in life. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you help your hero with treatment options, rehab, and a substance abuse treatment plan designed for them.