Addiction and Depression - Similarities

I recently discovered several similarities between addiction and depression. The main inspiration came from the EFT Universe's list 'Challenges ofAddiction Treatment'. Please note that the below comments are generalisations and based on my own experience. Here we go. 

1. Cravings and Triggers

Environment, people, situations and feelings can be triggers when it comes to e.g. drug abuse. The same is true for depression. The key in both cases lies in identifying the triggers. As someone who has come out of depression the solution lied in identifying what triggered my negative thoughts of self-hate and self-doubt. 

Triggers can be a toxic home environment or other people in your life who don't treat you well. Other triggers could be social situations like parties, or feelings such as tiredness or stress. 

2. Ambivalence

The ambivalent thoughts that come to an addict's mind when giving up a drug are often:

  • What will replace it? 
  • Will I have to give up my friends? 
  • Can I handle the withdrawal? 


Personally, my ambivalence was similar. I felt a fear of what would replace the negative thoughts and self-image that I had. Not knowing myself and how to engage in society with confidence, it was like walking the plank. Will there be other negative behaviours replacing the self-loathing thoughts? Things went well, but there were definitely times of doubt. 

The second point about friends wasn't really an issue, since I didn't have a lot of friends at the time. If there was anything to give up, it was the comfort of not facing reality. 

As for the question about withdrawal, there are definitely times during recovery where you wonder 'Will I be able to handle things on my own without therapy?'. You also want to prove to, and show people, that you have healed, that there's a new you. God knows the breakdowns, panic attacks and other reactions you have had in the past and you want to show people the new you (real you). 

3. Denial and Resistance

Most of the time I suffered from depression I also denied it. The illness had become so normalised in my life, that I thought it was part of me and that I could handle it. I think many people with mental illness do. Also, because it is not a visible illness (such as hurting your knee) you think it is easier to hide. This denial combined with others people's often lack of knowledge and/or unwillingness to reach out, can let the illness go on uncured for several years.

I believe resistance is also common among those suffering from depression. The few times I was offered help as a child, I resisted due to shame, denial and to avoid possible embarrassment. This is what I want parents to know: You MUST get your child treatment, and YES, it will include sacrifice, radical changes and help for the whole family. It is a family issue.