Question: What is the relationship between depression and substance abuse in children/adolescents?
Answer: There is without question a relationship between depression and substance abuse in children and adolescents, more commonly in adolescents. This is for a number of reasons. Substances are often used to self-medicate depression.
They can be numbing or they can create senses of euphoria that can in the short term make the child feel better, but in the long term can be detrimental. It also turns out that substance abuse and depression are both heritable disorders. So to the extent that the parents of these kids suffer from both depression and substance abuse, the children have an equally increased genetic risk for both of these conditions.
Finally, it may be that many children who are depressed will have their self-esteem affected in such a way that they will turn to substances as a means of connecting with others.