Depression & Substance Abuse: Should You be Concerned About Your Employees?

Depression & drinking

You might be aware that depression and other mood disorders can often be accompanied by substance abuse. Doctors refer to these linked diseases by a few terms, including comorbidity or dual diagnosis. When two conditions are linked like this, they feed upon each other and worsen.

As an employer, here’s what you need to know about the connection between depression and substance abuse.

Links Between Depression & Substance Abuse

Prevalence of Dual Diagnosis

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), around 20% of Americans with depression and other anxiety and mood disorders also have a substance abuse problem. The same is true of those with substance abuse issues — 20% of that group also suffers from anxiety or depression.

When compared to the general population, these numbers are high. The likelihood of mood disorders among drug addicts is twice as high, and vice versa.

Why are These Conditions Linked?

Both substance abuse and depression share triggers that may explain why they often accompany one another. Studies have shown that similar areas of the brain, such as the regions that involve our response to stress, are impacted by depression and substance abuse. Genetics also play a factor in both depression and substance abuse. And if you engage in drug use early enough, it can impede brain development, making you more likely to develop a mental health disorder. Likewise, early mental health issues can lead to later substance abuse problems.

How is this Connected to the Workplace?

Environmental factors including stress can contribute to both substance abuse and depression. When an employee is frequently placed in high-stress situations in the workplace, they may become more prone to mental disorders and to abuse of alcohol or drugs.

As an employer, you can put measures in place to reduce workplace stress, such as corporate wellness programs and mental health support. You can also develop a substance abuse policy that includes information on how employees can get help for addiction problems, how your organization can help provide support for these issues, and more.

Help With Substance Abuse Programs

If your organization would like to better serve your employees and prevent substance abuse from becoming a big issue in the workplace, you need an effective substance abuse policy. Test Smartly Labs can help you develop a program to reduce drug and alcohol abuse, including testing programs.

For more information, contact your local Test Smartly Labs!

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