Depression – a substance abuse warning


People suffering from depression will always be at risk of falling into substance abuse according to a mental health expert.

Perth psychologist Steve Wells

Perth psychologist Steve Wells says depression sufferers all around the world turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with their issues.

“(Mental health problems and drugs) often go together because someone who is depressed wants to look for something to lift their depression,” he says.

The issue of dual diagnosis has become prominent after Hawthorn footballer Travis Tuck overdosed on GHB, an illegal drug, better known as liquid ecstasy.


On the night of Hawthorn’s round 22 win over Collingwood, Tuck was found unconscious in his car, overdosed on GHB, with drug paraphernalia in the back seat.

As a result Tuck, 22, received his third strike under the AFL’s illicit drugs policy.

He was given a 12-match ban and fined $5000.

It was revealed soon after Tuck was suffering from clinical depression and had turned to illicit drugs to try to deal with his illness.

Mr Wells says nobody with depression is immune from the temptations of drugs and alcohol.

“People are always doing things to try and change how they feel,” he says.


Roughly one in twenty Australians suffer from depression, while a US study found in 2008 and 2009 one in five adults who had depression abused a substance.

Mr Wells says addiction can occur because depressed people think the only way to escape their dark feelings is to abuse a substance.

“It’s highly likely in those circumstances to become more addictive because you’re more likely to become heavily psychologically addicted to the shift in feeling,” Wells says.

“Everybody wants to feel good. And when you’re depressed it can be a chronic and overwhelming sense of darkness and heaviness.”

“Nobody wants to live like that,” he says.


Tuck has since been told he will be supported by the club through his illness and addiction.

Anyone who feels depressed or is concerned about their addiction to a substance should call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Click on the link to hear some of the interview with Steve Wells

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