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Clinical Management of Depressive Symptoms in the Context of Substance Use

Author: Jessie Timmons, LCSW
(Click author's name for bio)

Course Created: 2023

Practice Level: Intermediate

No book to buy Duration: 3 hours
4.7 out of 5.0, Based on: 748 reviews

Course Summary

Substance use disorders and depressive disorders are highly comorbid—about 17 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder, 7 million have other drug use disorders, and among this combined population the rate of major depressive disorder (MDD) is about 32%, a percentage that has remained largely the same in the last several years (Carey, 2018; Hunt et al., 2020). Importantly, the division of service provision between mental health care and substance use care confounds effective care, as specialists in each area often lack current knowledge in the other and care facilities may organize separately, or as silos, around these disorders creating barriers and disjointed care. In particular, substance use care providers may have licensing and education requirements that do not require much knowledge of depressive symptoms, including symptom identification, care of symptoms, and how these symptoms may interact with substance use concerns.

This learning material offers an understanding of depressive symptomatology in the context of substance use as well as SUDs, and in contrast to depressive disorders. Throughout the learning material the connection between certain symptoms of depression and various phases of substance use are pointed out, along with the ways that depression symptoms can affect recovery, and attempts at recovery from SUDs, and/or change the client’s relationship to substances. This course also explores the effect of depressive symptoms on treatment participation and engagement and considers effective clinical interventions, treatment settings, and specific cultural needs of clients when discussing assessment and treatment options. Case examples offer illustrations of how mental health providers can apply effective assessments and interventions and provide opportunities for learners to connect the learning material to their clinical practice.

Course Format

This course contains downloadable online lessons (PDF) and a practice test. When you're ready, purchase the course by clicking the "Add To Cart" button. This will let you take the test, complete the course evaluation and receive your certificate for CE credits.

Learning Objectives

  • Differentiate experiencing depressive symptoms from the presence of a depressive disorder.
  • Explain the relationship between substance effects and depressive symptoms.
  • Describe the effect of depressive symptoms on substance use recovery and treatment.
  • Recognize the benefits and limitations of varied treatment settings on clinical work with substance use and/or depressive symptoms.
  • Identify cultural and demographic considerations for assessing and treating depressive and SUD symptoms.
  • Explain effective interventions for depressive symptoms in the context of substance use treatment.

Course Syllabus


Depressive Symptoms and Substance Use

Depressive Symptoms and Depressive Disorders

Suicidality and Screening

Clinician Beliefs

Substance Use Versus Substance Use Disorders

Depressive Symptoms: Effects on Substance Use Recovery

Interactions Between Symptoms

Clinical Considerations

Treatment Setting

Cultural and Demographic Considerations

Screening and Assessment

Treatment Planning and Intervention

Cognitive Approaches

Belief Approaches

Affective Approaches


References, provider #1115, is approved as an ACE provider to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE provider approval period: 07/08/21-07/08/24. Social workers completing this course receive 3 clinical continuing education credits.

We are committed to providing our learners with unbiased information. Ce4Less never accepts commercial support and our authors have no significant financial or other conflicts of interest pertaining to the material.


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