Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery and Depression
16th October 2023
Drug and alcohol abuse or addiction, often goes along with depression like a hand and glove. This can be the case even years after recovery. One of the reasons for this can be physical, that is, whenever we do anything that physically damages our brain, it can lead to psychiatric disorders. It is thought that this may be one of the reasons that pro-football players have been experiencing high rates of depression and even suicide. The injuries to the brain through repeated blows to the head while playing and in practice, result in depression for some players.
Similarly, it is believed that every time a person becomes intoxicated on alcohol, he or she destroys millions of brain cells. That is powerful incentive to stay sober.
However, because both illicit drugs and alcohol abuse damage the brain, it can result in depression from a simply physical standpoint. There are however many psychological issues involved in alcohol and drug abuse also, which can also play a role.
A vicious cycle of depression, alcohol or drug abuse can develop. Some self-medicate depression or bipolar disorder through substance abuse. It is thought that approximately 66% of those who develop bipolar disorder abused drugs or alcohol in the past or present. Again, there is a strong physical connection, but also there is a psychological connection between drug and alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder.
Anyone who has or has had bipolar disorder, or really, an serious psychiatric disorder, including major depression, should abstain completely from alcohol for one's entire life. One can never get to the point where he or she can say, now I'm ready to have a drink. This may be true for many (but not necessarily all) who struggle with moderate depression as well, but each one is different.
Treating Alcoholism and Psychiatric Drugs
The effects of some psychiatric can be very close to those of illicit drugs. Many psychiatric drugs are mind-dulling, can cause the head to "swim" or even get one "high". Doctors can sometimes experiment with a client using different psychiatric drugs and different combinations. Sometimes psychiatrists may not be fully responsive to a child, teen, or even adults petitions regarding the strong side-effects of these drugs.
In terms of alcohol and drug abusers, then, and depression, it is recommended on this site, that if it is at all possible, one is better to try to overcome that depression without drugs. While the side effects of most antidepressants are not necessarily so severe as mentioned in the preceding paragraph about some psychiatric drugs, there is a tendency in psychiatry for the administering of one drug to lead to the administering of other drugs, as one drug is no longer effective or does not help, or as side effects begin to manifest themselves, or other symptoms develop. These other symptoms are sometimes a partial result of the prescription drugs themselves.
Additionally, the drug and alcohol abuser already faces issues regarding substance abuse, and it might be the course of wisdom for some, to try to overcome depression without resorting to psychiatric drugs, some of which might have potential for abuse. Sleeping pills are mind-dulling in a somewhat similar way to alcohol, and taking sleeping pills might not be a course of wisdom for the recovering alcohol or drug abuser. Sleeping pills are abused often, are used as a method of suicide, and are mind-dulling. They can become addictive.
Please keep in mind that this is a non-medical observation from this site, that is, it is an educated opinion, rather than an official medical directive from a psychiatrist of medical doctor. Each one has to make his or her own decisions on these matters. This is one angle of the situation that can be considered as one makes one's own decisions about dealing with depression or other mental health issues.
Practical Lifestyle Changes to Cope and Cure Depression
For those suffering with depression, some of the ideas expressed on this site and by mental health organizations are of value. Give attention to nutrition, don't eat too much junk food, sweets, or any form of sugar. Don't overdo it with refined carbohydrates. To the extent possible try to eat whole-grain foods.
If one suffers from depression or has symptoms of bipolar disorder, take time daily to exercise, at least four or five times a week. This can help. This step alone has helped relieve many of mild to moderate depression at a better rate than medication, and with a better long-term outcome as well in terms of recurrence rate.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a help to some, and also has had results, when used without medication, at a similar success rate to that of medication, along with a positive recurrence rate profile. For teens and children, talk therapy with a professional can be a big help for depression.
Music, Television and Depression
Monitoring one's time spent with music, and the intensity of that music, is also, no doubt, a factor for many who suffer from depression. The mind was not meant to take hard-core, intense, or fast-paced music, activity, 24/7. The mind can take only so much intensity before it starts to overload. Toning down one's taste in music, and the time spent with it, can make a difference for many in terms of depression.
Additionally, watching television for some is a factor in depression. The passive nature of television, the generally negative news programs, and its focus on tragedy and disaster, can contribute to many individual's depression. Better to spend much less time, or no time, with TV, and rather engage in positive activities, that is activities things which require some bit of action, rather than daily passively watching television.
My own personal experience has been that watching two hours of TV at a time resulted in feelings of depression (directly after viewing TV) which were difficult to overcome. Violence in the media might also be a factor in some depression and bipolar disorder. (Media includes TV, movies, video games, and Internet). Spending more time reading positive literature, the newspaper or news magazines, is generally a better choice.
Reading is much more mind-strengthening and more active than watching TV. Additionally, daily reading the Bible is strengthening in many ways. Some in the Bible spoke with much conviction, especially so, Jesus Christ, and some of the prophets. Reading those words are strengthening, in addition to giving positive moral encouragement and helping in character development. The Bible can help one to develop both a love for what is right, as well as a fear of doing what is bad, which can help some to avoid using alcohol and drugs. Prayer, talking to God respectfully, is also of help in staying free from drugs and alcohol abuse.
Conclusion on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Recovery and Depression
There is much that can be done to address depression. Some depression stems from traumatic experience present or past, or from child abuse. In those cases, medication can cover up symptoms, but don't really address the past or present issues. Therapy, professional or otherwise, is of much help.
One other point, for recovering alcoholics and drug abusers, many can benefit from taking up art. It is a hobby, or pastime, which can soften one's emotions, can lead to greater self-respect, can quiet the mind, and help one to gain self-control. It can help to fill vacant hours of boredom, which is the reason some drink or abuse. And it gives one a skill that can be developed and an expression of oneself.
With this in mind, take advantage of any help that is available as an aid in recovery, and develop both coping skills and endeavor to change your lifestyle, as many of us have tried to do, in an effort to increase your chances for a full recovery and in overcoming depression. It can be done, you can succeed, never give up.