Depression and Alcohol / Drug Misuse

Depression, low mood and sadness are feelings that most people have each day. However, 3% of all young people aged 13-25 years experience severe depression for most of the time. There are 2 million teenagers in the UK who have one or more parents who are addicted to alcohol. If your parents are depressed and/or using alcohol or drugs, then how will it affect you as a young person? You are not alone. Alateen is a part of Alcoholics Anonymous which offers help to young people with parents who have problems with drinking.

Adults who have problems with alcohol and drug misuse often developed these habits in their teenage years. Alcohol and drug use may have been ways to feel better and more confident at times. Which came first? Depression or alcohol or substance misuse.  Sometimes depression and anxiety come before alcohol/substance misuse. Other times alcohol/substance misuse come before depression and anxiety.  Maybe they arise at the same time and alcohol/substance misuse has a stronger influence influence on a person's life than depression. Or maybe depression has a stronger influence on a young person's life than their alcohol or substance misuse. If a young person can get help for their alcohol/substance misuse problems, then they will meet a case worker in a local substance misuse service ( The case worker will help a young person reduce their alcohol/substance misuse, which is called 'harm reduction.'

After a young person has reduced their substance misuse or alcohol consumption, the case worker can explore the issues of depression and anxiety that a young person has and offer access to more treatments. These treatments are talking therapies and/or medication.

In the UK, USA, Europe and Australasia, about 20% of young people aged 16-25 years are using cannabis at least once a week. Young people who use more cannabis from a younger age are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and paranoia (alteration and distortion in their relationships with others, where a young person might think that they are "out to get them"). Cannabis and synthetic cannabis (e.g. 'spice') are at least 40 times stronger than the cannabis consumed in the 1970s.

Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are now making their impression in our culture and it is common for young people to be offered unknown legal highs in clubs, on the streets and over the net. We can learn more about these drugs from the stories of young people who use them. Websites like and the free app "erowid navigator" provide us with up-to-date knowledge about new drugs.

The subject of this blog is very extensive and will be covered again in the future. If a young person can get help for their depression and alcohol/substance misuse they will begin a journey that will slowly change their life in a good way and connect with their talents, dreams and new prospects for the future.  

Further reading and the Erowid Navigator app which is free for Android.

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