When it comes to substance abuse, co-occurring disorders are common. The majority of the time, these co-occurring disorders are mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. While having a mood disorder does not necessarily mean you will develop a substance abuse disorder, it is essential to note the correlation between the two. Understanding the correlation will increase awareness and potentially help reduce the number of substance use disorders.

How Different Mood Disorders Can Lead to Substance Abuse

Mood disorders are a type of mental health disorder that causes people’s mood or general emotional state to become distorted. Their emotions often do not correlate with their current circumstances, interfering with the person’s functionality in daily life. Due to the symptoms of some mood disorders, they can cause a person to use drugs or alcohol to alleviate them; this is how substance use disorders can develop.


Various types of anxiety disorders can cause unpleasant symptoms such as panic attacks, restlessness, irritability, mood swings, and more in people that cause them to seek an escape. Many will turn to alcohol or marijuana to self-medicate, which may work temporarily, but can worsen symptoms over time. When this happens, it can cause the person to use the substance more, eventually becoming dependent on it and developing a co-occurring disorder.


Major depressive disorder can cause symptoms such as feelings of worthlessness, insomnia, oversleeping, appetite changes, loss of interest, suicidal ideation, and more. Many individuals with depression will self-medicate with cocaine or alcohol, thinking it will help improve their mood. While it may help temporarily, depression symptoms can worsen over time due to substance abuse. Depression can also be a withdrawal symptom, causing the person to return to drugs and alcohol to alleviate the discomfort.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder typically affects a person’s moods, causing them to experience highs known as manias and extreme lows of depression. Individuals with bipolar disorder may drink alcohol during manic episodes, causing them to fall into a depressive episode. The individual may take cocaine to lift their mood, but this often results in drug-induced mania. Chronic substance use can lead to dependence on the substances and the development of a co-occurring disorder.

When it comes to substance abuse, it is not uncommon for a person struggling to have a co-occurring mood disorder such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. There is a high correlation rate between these disorders and substance abuse because of their symptoms. Alta Loma Transformational Services is here to help you heal from both, as our experts specialize in mood and thought disorders as well as addiction treatment. Therefore, we can create an individualized treatment plan to address your needs and set you up for success in recovery. Call (866) 457-3843 to learn more today.