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How Heroin Can Lead to Depression

an upset man with a hoodie leans against a wall and thinks about the connection between heroin and depression

Many people are aware that there are connections between heroin and depression. Using drugs to self-medicate undiagnosed or untreated mental health concerns is not uncommon. That said, not everyone understands that heroin can lead to depression.

Heroin is a powerful and highly addictive opioid that affects the brain in ways that can contribute to the development of depression. If you are looking for a heroin rehab in Waltham, MA, call Evoke Wellness at Waltham today at 866.276.1920.

How Are Heroin and Depression Connected?

Information from the National Institute of Mental Health confirms that nearly half of all people with a substance use disorder are also living with a mental health condition like depression. It is not always possible to know which came first, drug misuse or depression.

The misuse of heroin and other opiates can cause changes in brain chemistry that lead to depression. However, in some cases, people turn to drugs to self-treat depression symptoms. They may not know they have a mental health concern, or they may not have the support needed to manage it.

While it’s true that heroin and other substances can temporarily relieve the symptoms of some mental health conditions, using illicit drugs can make symptoms worse in the long run. After the euphoria of heroin wears off and withdrawal symptoms begin, feelings of depression and anxiety may increase.

Using heroin to alleviate depression is not the only link. Substance misuse can also cause brain changes that increase an individual’s risk of developing a mental health condition.

The Long-Term Effects of Heroin

Long-term heroin use affects brain function, causing it to rely on the drug to produce dopamine and serotonin. Both these neurotransmitters play an important role in maintaining good mental health.

As addiction becomes more severe, the brain becomes more dependent on heroin to create these “feel-good” chemicals. Mood regulation becomes more difficult—if not impossible—without using heroin.

In addition, the physical side effects of heroin use can cause the body to overproduce stress hormones. Chronic heroin use can lead to:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Pulmonary infections
  • Heart infections
  • Collapsed veins
  • Deterioration of the brain’s white matter
  • Skin infections

 An imbalance in stress hormones caused by poor health can also lead to depression. The long-term effects of heroin extend to an individual’s social standing as well. Addiction can lead to isolation from friends and family, job loss, and homelessness.

Furthermore, people with substance use disorder may suffer from loneliness, poor self-esteem, and the belief that things will never get better. These influences can add to the risk of developing depression.

Treating Co-Occurring Conditions

When an individual has a substance use disorder and an additional mental health concern, it’s referred to as a dual diagnosis or as having co-occurring conditions. For example, living with both a heroin use disorder and depression would be viewed as a dual diagnosis.

Treating co-occurring conditions requires an integrated approach to treatment that addresses both substance use and mental health. Treatment begins with a complete health assessment. Recovery services typically involve a variety of therapies and techniques, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Trauma therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Holistic therapies
  • EMDR therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Mindfulness therapies

Every individual comes to recovery with their own unique experiences and challenges. Creating a customized treatment program provides the best chance for lasting recovery. In the case of heroin use disorder and depression, treatment would include the appropriate management of depression, including medications if needed.

Call Evoke Wellness at Waltham for Heroin and Depression Treatment

Heroin and depression can be effectively treated. A qualified rehab program should offer both evidence-based treatments and a variety of effective therapies for long-term recovery. At Evoke Wellness at Waltham, we understand that coping with addiction and depression at the same time is highly challenging. Individuals may fear that depression symptoms will worsen if they stop using heroin. Our treatment programs are designed to care for the whole person.

If you or someone you care about needs help, contact the compassionate recovery experts at Evoke Wellness at Waltham today by calling 866.276.1920 or contacting us online.