Depression and Using Alcohol or Drugs

Young people who are experiencing problems such as depression may try using alcohol or other drugs as a way to feel better. Some may not even be aware that they are struggling with depression - they only see 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 worsen a person’s depression. Using these substances as the way to cope, at best only provides short term relief. 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 use may increase the severity of depressive symptoms.
  • Depression has been linked to changes in dopamine levels (a natural chemic produced in our brains). Drugs like cocaine can alter the brain’s ability to release dopamine.
  • People who have been using alcohol or other drugs frequently, over a long period of time may experience temporary depression symptoms when they stop using them.

If you'd like to find out if your alcohol use is becoming a problem, take the Alcohol Use Quiz.

check your alcohol useIf you'd like to find out if your drug use is becoming a problem, take the Drug Use Quiz.

check your drug use