Painkiller Addiction and Depression

Painkiller addiction is hard enough to deal with, but add depression into the mix and the two together can be practically unbearable.

Unfortunately, one of the effects of painkiller addiction can be depression. So, if you already struggle with mild to moderate depression, then you are in for a tough time. Actually, both conditions only make the other one worse. Depression can intensify the painkiller addiction, and painkiller addiction will magnify your depression. The best way to treat them both is not to separate them and care for them one at a time. Rather, it is found best to treat both issues together in the form of “dual diagnosis”treatment.1

At The Canyon, we provide a dual-diagnosis rehab that addresses the needs of those who suffer from multiple conditions. In this case, we’re talking about both a drug addiction and depression. (But other addictions or mental conditions might apply to a particular patient.) By treating both issues at the same time, the patient’s mood can be more effectively managed while going through detox and rehab. In the course of treatment, the patient learns new ways to cope with life that are drug-free.

How Common Is It to Suffer from Both of These Conditions?

Chronic pain is a problem that affects more than 32 million people in the U.S. each year.

Typically in such cases, an addictive opiate painkiller is prescribed by the tending physician. The result? Painkiller addiction often results. In addition, as mentioned, depression often accompanies the use of such narcotics.

It is estimated that 25-50 percent of those who suffer from pain are also depressed. Likewise, about 65 percent of those who are diagnosed with depression are in pain and taking painkillers for the problem.

This is especially a problem for those who take prescription painkillers for pain that is so inhibiting that it restricts their independence. Compounding the problem is the fact that few patients who are on prescription drugs for pain get much attention for their depression, even as it worsens with the addiction.2

Drug Addiction and Depression Can Create a Vicious Cycle

For many, depression is already a battle before painkillers are introduced. While a daily regimen may relieve the pain, it may “throw gas on the fire” of depression. Prescription painkillers can also produce other side-effects, such as trouble sleeping, lower energy and reduced appetite – all of which can produce or worsen a patient’s depression.

When depressed, people tend to feel physical pain more acutely and, as a result, need more medication.

The body’s natural defenses are not as responsive when a person is depressed. This is due in part to the same effects that one finds with painkiller addiction. That is, there are issues with sleep patterns, lower energy level and less physical exercise. These patterns are made worse by when eating habits are unhealthy.

Painkillers may not only take away physical pain, but also emotional sadness. This occurrence only makes the chance of developing painkiller addiction that much higher.3

The Canyon in Malibu Offers Just What the Doctor Ordered

At The Canyon, we treat co-occurring conditions – such as painkiller addiction and depression – at the same time using integrated, dual-diagnosis treatment that is evidence-based (shown to be effective). If you or someone you love is suffering from one or multiple disorders, contact us at The Canyon today for more information about how we can help.


1 “Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Illnesses”, Research Report Series, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/rrcomorbidity.pdf, (September 2010).

2 “Depression and Chronic Pain”, WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-chronic-pain#1 .

3 “Substance Use Disorder”, MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine,https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001522.htm, (November 1, 2016).


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