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Mood and Anxiety

Depression and Substance Use

When people feel depressed, they may try using alcohol or other drugs as a way to feel better. People don’t always even recognize that they’re feeling depressed—they only know that they feel good after they've had a few drinks or get high.

Even though it feels like it might be helping, drinking alcohol or taking other drugs can actually make depression worse. Using alcohol and drugs as a way to cope, only offers short term relief—the feelings are still there once the alcohol or other drugs wear off. Although you might be able to forget your troubles for a few hours, coping this way doesn't build any long term skills or strategies to deal with the challenges of depression.

Some Facts About Substance Use

  • Alcohol can make depression worse.
  • Drugs like cocaine can change the way the brain releases dopamine (a natural chemical produced in our brains). Not having enough dopamine can cause feelings of depression.
  • People who use alcohol or other drugs often, and for a long time, may feel depressed for a short time when they stop using them.

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