Is Depression the Root Cause of Methadone Abuse?

Is Depression the Root Cause of Methadone Abuse?

Depressed individuals are more likely to develop addiction

Methadone is an extended-release opioid that treats chronic pain and helps opiate addicts recover. Despite its long history of use in addiction treatment, this drug is addictive, so abusing it can be dangerous. Per USA Today in 2007, the drug was involved in 13% of all US overdose deaths in 2004, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says methadone makes up 30% of opioid overdose deaths, yet only 2% of opioid prescriptions. Due to its minimal euphoric effects, methadone is not the preferred opioid for most recreational users, but abuse of this drug may stem from several factors, including depression.

How Depression Influences Drug Abuse

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration produced a congressional report in 2002 that listed the most common co-occurring mental health disorders associated with addiction; depression was one of the most common. Likewise, in discussing the connection between addiction and mental health, The American Journal of Psychiatry in 2005 made the following observations:

  • Addiction and depression alter the brain’s limbic system in similar ways, including hyperactivity in the amygdala
  • Chronic drug abuse and depression change neurotransmitter systems almost the same way
  • Addiction and depression may be different expressions of similar, preexisting brain abnormalities
  • Neurobiological similarities between depression and addiction cause overlapping symptoms
  • Depression and substance abuse exacerbate the severity of the other condition

Depressed individuals are more likely to develop addiction, and drug abuse increases the risk of that disorder. Moreover, the 2002 Archives of General Psychiatry argue that depressed individuals have hypersensitive responses in brain reward, which can increase the risk of drug abuse and relapse.

Treating Addiction and Depression Together

Depression can cause methadone addiction in depressed people, but similar neurobiological issues can be the root of both problems. Depression and addiction form a symbiotic relationship, which means each condition amplifies the other. Untreated depression significantly decreases the likelihood of addiction recovery, so most treatment centers screen for depression and other co-occurring mental health disorders once treatment begins. If someone has a Dual Diagnosis, or an addiction and a mental health disorder, then the facility uses integrated therapy to treat both conditions simultaneously. In fact, rehab centers treat addiction and mental health patients with the following services:

  • Behavioral therapies that target maladaptive thoughts related to conduct
  • Strategies to avoid or cope with drug cravings and depressive symptoms
  • Motivational therapies that help patients want to get better
  • Counseling to examine underlying causes of the disorders, like unresolved trauma
  • Opioid detox under medical supervision in a comfortable setting

As with depression, it is also important to address chronic pain that may contribute to methadone abuse. In such cases, the facility may employ chiropractic massage, stabilizers, acupuncture, localized anesthesia, hot/cold applications, hydrotherapy, physical therapy and other non-narcotic tools that manage pain.

Finding Addiction and Depression Help

If you or a loved one has a methadone addiction and depression, then our admissions coordinators can help her get and stay clean. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to discuss warning signs, depression screenings, treatment methods, rehab facilities and any other concerns. Our staff can even look up health insurance policies to explain their treatment benefits. They are available 24 hours a day, so please call now.