Music and TV star Kid Cudi recently announced entering a treatment center for depression and anxiety. This comes only a few months after candidly talking to the media about his drug use and 2010 arrest for cocaine possession. Cudi’s story sheds light on the strong link between drug use and mental illness.
Born in Cleveland, OH. in 1984, Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi became famous under his stage name Kid Cudi. Cudi has a gold record, sold millions of songs online, ranked highly on charts from multiple music genres, starred in HBO’s How to Make It in America, and collaborated with industry giants like Jay Z, Snoop Dog, and even Michael Bolton. Recently, Cudi became the band leader for IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! and in 2016, reports announced he will join the cast of Fox’s Empire.
All that success seems contrary to what many people think of when they imagine someone suffering from depression. But, success doesn’t always equate to mental well-being.
“I didn’t like that I had money and success and I had made it and everybody I had ever met in my life, good people, weren’t able to experience the same. I wasn’t able to truly enjoy my success,” Cudi said in an interview with OTHERtone in July. He also admitted to regularly having suicidal thoughts that led to his drug use. He said, “I’ll tell you the truth, it’s what drove me to drugs. I was like, man, I’m either going to kill myself or I’m going to do some drugs. And I want to live, so…”
The link between mental illnesses, like depression, and substance abuse is well documented. A study published in the March 2000 issue of Clinical Psychology Review states, “Depression and substance use disorders are highly prevalent in the general population and often co-occur within the same individual. This association is most commonly explained either by a causal relationship or a shared etiologic factor underlying both disorders.”
When a person suffers from both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder, experts refer to it as co-occurring disorders, formerly known as dual diagnosis. According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), nearly eight million adults in the United States suffered from co-occurring disorders. SAMHSA also acknowledges the varying severity and complexity of the symptoms of each disorder makes diagnosing cases of co-occurring disorder difficult.
While the relationship between disorders clearly exists, determining if one disorder causes the other or if both disorders develop out of a shared cause remains difficult to determine. Understanding the causes of each disorder and how they’re related can help clinicians apply more effective and comprehensive treatment methods. Treating one disorder while ignoring the other could hinder recovery.
While we aren’t privy to any diagnosis of any disorder or disorders Cudi may or may not have, the information we do have suggests his depression and drug use coincided. According to his own words, he stopped using cocaine long ago. In that same interview with OTHERtone, he said, “No more blow. People do drugs to camouflage emotions and run away from their problems. Now I’m going to deal with certain things as they come, prioritize sh*t–man up, so to speak.” However, while Cudi may have eliminated his cocaine habit, he continued using marijuana, “I was wilding out and s**t, but I’m good now. I just smoke weed.”
Taken individually, the facts involved in the Kid Cudi story show a pattern of someone seeking peace of mind. He was suicidal. He used cocaine. He used and possibly still uses marijuana. He went to a treatment center for depression and anxiety. The extent to which those facts overlap is not clear. But, the more they coincided, the more convoluted and complex his condition may be. The more complex and convoluted his condition, the more difficult it may be for mental health and/or recovery professionals to diagnose the root cause of his symptoms. That diagnosis will likely determine the types of treatment he will receive. If he needs treatment for co-occurring disorders, but only receives treatment for one symptom, he may struggle in his rehab and/or could relapse.
The facts of the story may even give us a glimpse to this possibility. He stopped using cocaine, but the depression either remained or returned. This suggests abusing cocaine was not the totality of Cudi’s disorder.
To reiterate, this article does not and cannot diagnose Kid Cudi with any substance abuse or mental health disorder. Even if a qualified mental health professional, after thorough examination, and extensive conversation were to make a diagnosis, HIPAA laws would prohibit publication of such information.
Cudi’s story and how many elements of it fit with what is known about co-occurring disorders show that even successful people have struggles. And, hopefully his celebrity status can start and bring attention to a discussion that needs to take place in order to destigmatize people struggling with emotional distress.
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