How Do I Deal with Depression During Addiction Recovery?
Many alcoholics and addicts experience a period of grieving and depression after they start their recovery process.
Recovery can be particularly hard for people who have received a dual diagnosis of alcoholism and depression.
Recovery and Depression
When people who struggle with both depression and alcoholism decide to quit, recovery is made difficult by the fact that they can no longer self-medicate with alcohol. Upon starting recovery, people with co-occurring disorders feel a wave of emotions surface once again. People who are struggling with both conditions may often find it hard to integrate themselves into a support group or 12-step program, as they may feel that people at meetings simply do not "get" what they are going through. However, it is important to know that there are groups out there that deal with both depression and addiction, such as "Double Trouble in Recovery."
Social situations can also be more difficult for alcoholics with a depressive disorder. Happy situations such as holidays and birthdays can trigger negative emotions. These negative emotions can ultimately become a trigger for drinking. Being in this situation can cause a person to suffer anxiety and to question whether recovery is truly possible.
Battling a Double Diagnosis
Here are four tips to help you fight depression and stay on your recovery path:
- Build a solid, social support network. It is important to create a support network that is specific to your needs. If you struggle with depression and addiction, try to include people who also suffer from depressive disorders and are in recovery.
- Avoid people and places that trigger cravings and depressive symptoms. When you are planning on attending a special event that could trigger cravings for alcohol or make you feel down, bring a person from your support network. Limit the amount of time you will stay at this special function and plan out your day before you go to this event.
- Remember to address both problems. Tackle both your addiction and your depression. Talk with your therapist about about building refusal skills and learning to say "No.” Don't neglect your depression simply because you see improvement in your addiction recovery. Talk to your therapist about the best treatment for your depression.
- Listen to your body and mind. When taking medications for alcoholism, depression or both, be sure that you are aware of any sudden changes that you may experience. If you notice unusual changes, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor immediately. If your symptoms are severe, go to the nearest emergency room. Talk to your doctor openly about all your concerns, especially if they have to do with the long-term effects of your medication.