Alcoholism and Depression: Frenemies Forever

Therese J. Borchard

UnknownI’ve heard a thousand variations of this problem: “My brother is depressed, but he also drinks a lot, which is probably causing the depression. So what do you treat first? The alcoholism or the depression?”

The two conditions are so intertwined that it can be impossible to separate them.

Just last week I met with an executive director of a behavioral health program here in Annapolis. We were discussing how to start a faith-based initiative.

“Should we also include substance abuse?” he asked.

“Why?” asked a director of separate program for those with severe mental illness.

“Because substance abuse and mood disorders almost always occur with each other,” the first guy responded.

It’s the chicken-egg thing. People get depressed after ingesting a depressant liquid like whiskey into their system. And people drink to self-medicate the pain. When the initial buzz wears off, they need even more of the whiskey to…

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