The Anxiety and Depression That Can Accompany Denial

Denial is one of the classic symptoms of addiction. If you’re using substances or drinking alcohol you’re likely hiding, minimizing, or rationalizing your substance use to yourself and those around you. You’re telling yourself, “This isn’t a problem.”  And you’re justifying your behavior by telling others, “After Mary died, this is what keeps me sane.” Denial seems to keep everything in order in your head, even though somewhere inside you might know something is wrong.

And that distant part of you, the part of you that you keep pushing away in order to stay in denial and keep using is precisely what contributes to other symptoms. It’s common for those who experience addiction to also struggle with anxiety and depression. There’s a tendency to high levels of stress, feelings of unease, worry, and angst with addiction. You might be worried that it’s all going to fall apart. Since many people attempt to keep their lives together through the use of alcohol and drugs, there is little foundation to stand upon. If the drug use comes to an end, then addicts will have to face what they’ve been pushing away and that alone can create anxiety and fear.

At the same time, amidst the anxiety, there might be feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and loss, which is may be driving substance use in the first place. And it’s these feelings, especially when they’re being pushed away through alcohol and drugs, that can contribute to depression.

Furthermore, anxiety and depression tend to go hand in hand. One seems to exacerbate the other, especially when both are not being tended to in a healthy way. Although it might appear that you’re feeling better through drinking or drug use, instead, the substance use keeps those inner experiences at bay. Symptoms of anxiety and depression can continue to persist and even get stronger as an addiction develops. It’s as though the inner world continues to become more and more toxic.

If you’re noticing these symptoms in yourself, there are some steps you can take to help change your experience.

  1. Talk to someone. If you’re not quite ready to seek out professional help, at least talk to someone you trust. Let them know how you’re really feeling. Just talking it all out can be therapeutic.
  2. Educate yourself on addiction and the presence of other mental illnesses. It’s very common to have both an addiction and anxiety or depression. About 80% of those who struggle with addiction also have a mental illness. Learning more about the presence of these two together might shed more light on how you can support yourself in getting better.
  3. When you’re ready, call for professional help. If you’re using substances as well as feeling anxious and depressed, at some point, there’s a good chance that you’ll need professional support. Some people avoid calling a therapist or psychologist because of the stigma that tends to come with seeking out therapy. If this is the case for you, you might forget about the stigma once you realize that therapy is actually helping you change your life.

These are a few suggestions for finding peace amidst the chaos of addiction, anxiety, and depression.

 

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Developing Independent Living Skills When You’ve Been Out of Practice

Developing Independent Living Skills When You've Been Out of Practice | Transcend Recovery Community

Mark was severely depressed with an alcohol addiction and living on the streets ten years ago. He was stealing and was being stolen from. He was committing crimes in order to survive and often getting caught, and going in and out of jail. Finally, one day he approached a homeless shelter. He knew that he could shower there, get food, and at least get some rest on the couch. Whenever Mark was at the shelter, he felt his deep fatigue of living the life he was living, but he had no other options in his mind. He didn’t think it could get any better.

However, one day when he was at the shelter, he also began to receive services from a local social service agency. He began to meet with a counselor once per week and he started to talk with the shelter staff. Eventually, the staff found a way to get Mark on disability for his depression and addiction, giving Mark an income. Sometime later, the staff also found him a temporary housing situation so that he no longer had to live on the streets.

Today, Mark is living in a board and care facility, still struggling with depression, but he is sober and off the streets. He has been succeeding so well in his recovery that he has begun to wonder about how to get a job and move into his own apartment. However, Mark is going to need to learn some independent living skills in order to achieve these two goals. For instance, he’s going to need to learn how to:

  • Manage his money
  • Create a budget
  • Create a resume
  • Participate in a job interview
  • Cook for himself
  • Shop for himself
  • Do the laundry
  • Manage his time
  • Clean his own home
  • Take the bus around town

If you are like the many men and women in this country who are making their way back up after being down, then perhaps you also need to learn some independent living skills. These are necessary skills to living on your own, without the support of professional assistance. According to the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL), “independent living skills are those skills necessary to live as independently as possible.” MCIL also points out that these skills may be related to social/recreational activities such as knowing how to use your leisure time in a meaningful way or knowing where to find social activities and resources that are fulfilling.

In many ways, developing these skills are a crucial part of the addiction recovery process. For some, they might be learning independent living skills for the first time. For others, they might have known and relied upon these skills but lost them because of an addiction.

It’s common for an addiction to slowly eat away at the life you have. You might have been living with your spouse, working a full time job, and raising a family. Slowly, over time, an addiction can take all that away from you to the point where you end up living on the streets. With enough time on the streets, you might lose necessary skills for functioning in society, skills that are necessary to live on your own.

You might not ever need help in recovering your independent living skills. They might naturally come back to you. However, sometimes starting over after a difficult addiction can be incredibly challenging. Having support for the small but necessary tasks in life might be needed. If you need support for developing independent living skills, you can do one of following:

  • Contact a mental health professional.
  • Contact a social service agency that provides lessons in these skills.
  • Search online for tips on how to develop these skills.
  • Borrow a book from the library that provides step by step instruction for these skills.

These skills are easy to learn if you need to incorporate them into your life.

 

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Finding Balance in Order to Stay Sober & Healthy

Finding Balance in Order to Stay Sober & Healthy | Transcend Recovery Community

Often, the quickest way to relapse is through stress. When you can manage your stress and stay balanced, you find the space inside of you to resist the temptations you know are unhealthy. When you find the calm path inside, you can stay inwardly balanced and avoid choices that are not to your benefit. On the other hand, if you begin to lose your sense of balance in your life, you might notice the following tendencies, which could lead to relapse:

Risk Taking – Adults, who are emotionally and psychologically healthy, are able to judge risky behavior and factor into decision-making the consequences of their choices. Taking drugs releases dopamine in the brain and fulfills the need for highs that risky behavior brings. To avoid this, you can channel your energy towards achieving goals or participating in sports that could replace the high of taking drugs.

Anxiety – When you’re under stress and if you do not have the coping skills to manage that stress, it’s easy to turn to drugs. It’s easy to have a drink as a way to calm the nerves. At the same time, you might already have anxiety due to a mental illness. Yet, staying balanced includes knowing what to do to keep your anxiety in check.

Depression – Sometimes, alcohol use, abuse, and depression goes hand in hand. You might feel so uncomfortable with who you are, how your life is functioning, and how it hurts inside. Although depression is a psychological disorder, it can be painful emotionally and physically. The dissatisfaction with one’s life, the inability to feel anything, the lack of connection with oneself and others might stimulate the desire to drink. In fact, it might drive an entire addiction. It might be obvious that in order to create a life of sobriety, in order to finally get clean, the psychological disorder of depression needs to heal. Addiction typically has underlying issues that need to be treated. One can make the choice to get sober, create a network of support, and even create a new life. However, if those underlying issues are not addressed, and in this case, those that led to depression, there is likely going to be relapse.

Social Alienation – This can be a pattern for many adults who experience depression, or who have struggled with addiction in the past. Or you might have had to face bullying when you were a child, and perhaps you don’t have the coping skills to manage the emotions that result from social interaction. You might be very sensitive and yet you have developed the pattern of hiding their emotions. If you’ve experienced trauma in your life, it’s common to be sensitive to the thoughts and expression of others. It’s common to feel shameful, and as a result feel the need to hide and withdraw. Yet, in that aloneness and in inability to deal with emotions, drugs can become a coping mechanism of choice.

Emotional AvoidanceEmotional awareness is the skill of knowing what you are feeling, why you’re feeling it, and what physical sensations you are having as a result. This is a skill that can be cultivated over time, which allows you to identify and express what you are feeling moment by moment. It’s is also the ability to understand the relationship between what you are feeling and how you choose to behave. However, if you are unable to manage your emotions, you might be vulnerable to addiction. Alcohol or drugs can turn into a way to avoid distress and challenging emotions, especially those that are difficult to express, such as anger and shame. Not having the skills to cope with difficult feelings as well as not wanting to feel them can easily lead a teen to drugs as an avoidance mechanism.

Staying balanced can help prevent the above situation. Stay balanced can provide the right state of mind to be able to manage your depression or anxiety. Inner balance can give the frame of mind to make healthy choices and protect you from taking risks. If you’re unsure what you need to stay balanced, you might consider deep breathing every day, a practice of meditation, a practice of yoga, or having an hour of alone time each day.

Staying balanced can support your ability to stay sober, healthy, and happy.

 

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Depression vs Sadness Checklist (Use It to Stay Sober & Non-Suicidal)

Depression vs Sadness Checklist (Use It to Stay Sober & Non-Suicidal) | Transced Recovery Community

The main symptom of depression is a pervasive feeling of sadness that is heavy and often feels oppressive. People occasionally describe depression as one of the most painful experiences they’ve had. It is often physically apparent, where facial muscles slump, eyes are often downward facing, and shoulders fall inward. Others might slip into crying quite easily.

However, sadness itself is a different experience. Although depression can feel like chronic sadness, there is a difference between sadness and depression. It’s important to make this distinction because one requires medical treatment and the other does not. If you are depressed, especially if you know that depression underlies your drinking or drug use, then perhaps the following symptoms of depression are useful in identifying whether you need to seek treatment.

Yet, sadness is another kind of internal experience, and it might be one that simply requires processing or talking through. You might need to call upon a therapist, a close friend, or your spouse. You might recognize that you’re sad because you’re not doing what brings you fulfillment, and if this is the case, you can start working on making the changes you need to make in your life.

Use the following checklist to note the differences between sadness and depression. By doing so, you might be able to determine the psychological needs you have and what kind of tools you might need. If you have a sense that you are in fact depressed, getting treatment can save your life. It can save you not only from drug use and drinking, but also from suicidal thinking and attempts at suicide. Getting the right mental health support can slowly lift a depression so that you’re enjoying life again.

Indicators of Depression

Depression is a persistent experience of feeling down, despondent, or low. In order to be diagnosed with depression, there are clear behavioral criteria that a teen must exhibit. Some of these include:

Emotions:

  • Usually with depression there is an inability to feel pleasure, hope. love, or attachment.
  • Typically, there is emotional flatness.

Thinking:

  • Depression comes with very poor concentration due to slow thinking and an inability to pull thoughts together quickly.
  • Thoughts usually consist of negative self-talk such as, “I’m disgusting, worthless, inadequate.” Other thoughts include “I’ve done something wrong”, “I can’t do anything,” or “Death would be a relief”.

Energy Level:

  • With depression there is a loss of will, desire, and interest. There is frequently an avoidance of people, work, and activities.
  • There might be slowed activity or speech.
  • There might be minimal talking, smiling, or movement.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Sleep is frequently disrupted, either experiencing too much or too little sleep.
  • Those who are depressed will have a poor appetite or will overeat.
  • There might be weight gain or loss.
  • There might possibly be crying spells without knowing why.

Indicators of Sadness

Emotions:

  • With sadness, there are feelings of missing someone, disappointment, loss of love, or numbness for a brief time.

Thinking:

  • Sadness also includes poor concentration; however, it’s often due to a preoccupation. There is often an increased level of thinking about the loss, if there was one.

Energy Level:

  • There is an avoidance of, and for others, a desire to, talk about loss.
  • There is a focus on how the loss or sadness interferes with other life pursuits.
  • You might feel drained or exhausted.
  • You might also experience an emotional roller coaster.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Sleep is frequently disrupted, either experiencing too much or too little sleep.
  • Those who are sad will have a poor appetite or will overeat.
  • There might be weight gain or loss.
  • There might be a level of sexual responsiveness.
  • There might also be periods of crying because of the sadness or loss.

Although there are some similarities between depression and sadness, there are some important clinical differences. Each one would be treated much differently by a mental health professional. It’s important to know these subtle differences, particularly because sadness and depression can affect your ability to stay sober. With the right treatment, however, both sobriety and mental health can be a part of your life!

 

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Dangers of the Inner Critic

Dangers of the Inner Critic | Transcend Recovery Community

Some men, women, and even teens have a strong inner critic. They can be very self-judging, which leads to challenging feelings. And in turn, those feelings of low self-worth, shame, and self-rejection are difficult to bear and can lead to making choices to help remove oneself from those feelings, such as choosing to use drugs or drink.

For some, these difficult feelings are so strong and the sense of relaxation in the mind that drinking and drug use can offer can be the impetus for an entire addiction. Feeling better about oneself while drinking can be the power behind a lifetime of addiction.

Yet, addiction can be incredibly harmful to oneself and to others, as well as create great destruction in one’s life. Someone who is drinking on a regular basis might lose his or her job, end up divorced, and lose their children.

The inner critic is a part of their mind that tends to be critical and even negative. Sadly, many people who suffer from anxiety and depression experience a strong inner critic, a part of themselves that might make worse the psychological symptoms they experience. This is particularly true with depression. Often, depression is a way of being cut off from who you are, which is frequently a result of having had a destructive life. For instance, the difficult experiences of an abusive childhood, a life of addiction, growing up among strong criticism, living with intense guilt, and/or experiencing abandonment early in life can be situations that destroy the spark of life within. These situations and others can create thought patterns and beliefs like “I’m at fault”, “I’m not loveable”, “I’m not worth being loved”, or “My life isn’t worth anything”.

These kinds of thoughts, and worse, when these thoughts turn into beliefs, life can be very challenging, making drinking and drug use a viable option, regardless of the circumstances. The inner critic is sometimes referred to as having an oppressive ego structure. Yet, whatever you call it, there is a part of the self that is frequently judgmental, critical, and negative,

Interestingly, marijuana seems to be a drug of choice for those who tend to experience a strong inner critic. It seems to soften this part of the self, making it easier to be who one is. However, the transformation is actually illusory and instead might create a dependence on marijuana for feeling at ease with oneself. Of course, this kind of dependence is true for any drug that one uses on a regular basis.

Fortunately, instead of drug use and the possibility of addiction and self-harm, there are proven ways to ease the inner critic and make living a bit softer. The following are ways to quiet the inner critic, or at least challenge some of his or her beliefs.

  1. Examine Your Thoughts – The way one responds in their mind to the circumstances in life can have an influence on mood and feelings and thoughts. The thinking that goes on inside is the cognition domain and refers to all that happens inwardly, such as thoughts, images, memories, dreams, beliefs, attitudes, and where attention goes. All of these can contribute to negative thinking. And these can eventually lead to making choices that are destructive. Whether it’s with a therapist or by yourself, watch the thoughts you’re having and whether or not they are harmful.
  2. Evaluate Your Judgments – When you experience a judgment of yourself or others, take a close look at it. Is it true? Does your judgment have substance? Or is it simply a part of the negative thinking patterns that tend to follow the inner critic? If you can refute it, then it might be easier to let it go and not give it any more power.
  3. Challenge Yourself with Kindness – When you’ve seen that you’re judging yourself or when you notice that the inner critic is alive in your mind, do something kind for yourself. Perhaps go spend time near the ocean or prepare yourself a nurturing meal. Challenge that inner critic with kindness rather than believing in it and doing something later that you might regret.

Don’t let the inner critic ruin your life by propelling the start and growth of an addiction. Turn the volume down on that inner critic by no longer believing in it.

 

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Co-Occurring Disorders – Here are Questions to Ask Your Psychiatrist

For Those with Co-Occurring Disorders, Here are Key Questions to Ask Your Psychiatrist | Transcend Recovery Community

Co-occurring disorders (COD) are those that include both an addiction and a mental illness. For instance, you might suffer from depression as well as an alcohol addiction. Or you might have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and have developed an addiction to benzodiazepine tranquilizers, which are commonly prescribed for anxiety.

Co-occurring disorders are very common.  You can imagine that an individual experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety or the mood swings of Bipolar Disorder might want to quell those uncomfortable feelings with drugs or alcohol. This is one common reason that causes an individual to have a co-occurring disorder, also known as having a dual diagnosis.

If you experience a mental illness in addition to having an addiction, there are some important questions you might want to ask your psychiatrist.  The following are a list of those questions. They are meant to help you find a doctor that is supportive and looking out for your best interest.

Is it difficult to get an appointment with you?

If you are experiencing acute symptoms of depression, anxiety, or mania, you’ll want to have your doctor available. He or she can adjust medication, admit you to a hospital, if needed, or have a therapeutic session. However, the availability of that doctor is crucial especially during times of crisis.

Can I contact you during a crisis?

Mental health professionals, like doctors, typically have a method for handling crises when their patients are in need – especially when a crisis happens during holidays, evenings, or weekends. Some therapists will have an after-hours answering service or they will provide you with the number of a clinic to go to during emergencies or they might provide a recorded message with instructions on what to do during a crisis.

What is my diagnosis and how did you obtain it?

Some psychiatrists might prescribe medication, especially during a crisis, even without having a diagnosis. They do this in order to stabilize your mood while they rule out diagnostic possibilities. They might have a working diagnosis, for example. However, asking about a diagnosis is the right of every patient along with knowing the possible diagnoses he or she is considering.

What is the treatment plan?

It is typical for the treatment of most psychiatric illnesses to include both medication and psychotherapy – a dual diagnosis. Often, there will be a psychiatrist to manage medication and a therapist who will facilitate therapy. Both of medication and therapy have been proven to be an effective form of treatment. However, a treatment plan might also include psycho-education, family therapy, support groups, lifestyle changes, and/or instructions on what to do when symptoms become acute.

When can I expect to feel better?

Different medications will take various lengths of time to feel their effects. It could take two weeks, one month, or longer. This is a good question to ask of a psychiatrist or whoever is managing the medication regime.

How will I know that I am getting better?

Having a co-occurring disorder is tricky because feeling better might mean slipping into a period of depression or intense anxiety while you are withdrawing from alcohol or drugs, or if you are waiting for your medication to kick in. However, when depression begins to lift, you might also be able to experience other symptoms such as better sleep, more energy, more socialization, crying less, and fewer thoughts of suicide. A mental health professional will also be able to answer this in more detail.

What if I begin to feel worse?

Some medications will have effects that just aren’t working, particularly if a combination of drugs are being used. The best course of action is to communicate all the side effects and symptoms you are experiencing to your doctor. Some medications may not work at all and instead have an adverse effect.

What side effects should I expect?

This is an important question to ask before you begin to take any medication. Most psychiatrists will be aware of any serious side effects of medication before making a prescription. You should ask questions about side effects, effectiveness, risks, and options before deciding on a medication treatment.

Will you work with my other providers?

A psychiatrist will often coordinate treatment with your therapist, drug counselor, addiction treatment team, and anyone else supporting your health. Doing so can facilitate the effectiveness of a treatment plan as well as provide significant support.

In addition to these questions, it’s important to communicate the severity of your addiction and how your addiction might affect your ability to follow your treatment plan. Although these questions are optional, they can empower you and facilitate having a close connection to your doctor. In this way, you can voice your opinion, make adjustments, and ensure that you are receiving the best care possible.

 

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Depression, Suicide, and Substance Abuse

Depression, Suicide, and Substance Abuse | Transcend Recovery Community

Depression is common among those who suffer from addictions. Alcohol and drugs are often a way to mask or escape the feelings of low-self worth and little energy. However, depression, like addiction, is often ignored. And perhaps it’s ignored for what appears to be a good reason – because it comes with a stigma, because it’s hard to tell anyone, because if your friends and family found out they might be judgmental and rejecting. But, the truth is, if depression goes without being properly treated, it can get worse and lead to some harmful circumstances.

For instance, depression can lead to the following difficult situations:

Drug Use – As mentioned above, alcohol and drug use are a means for escape, which might be the best coping mechanism you have. Although there are many other healthier ways to cope with life and experiences of depression, drugs provide a high and can make life feel different than the depressive symptoms you’re used to feeling.

Poor Work Performance – Another symptom of depression is lack of concentration. Without the ability to concentrate and without feeling good about yourself, performing well occupationally can become challenge.

Social Issues – Depression also comes with feelings of worthlessness, frequent validation, and attention from others. These can create dysfunctional and risky relationships and social withdrawal.

Poor Athletic Performance – The symptoms of low energy, irritability, poor concentration, and lack of confidence, common with depression, can lead to poor sports performance. As this declines, this might only facilitate a downward emotional spiral, particularly for men.

Reckless Behavior – Those who are not emotionally stable might engage in risky behavior providing them with a means for feeling different and escaping their internal experience. However, having unprotected sex and engaging in illegal activities can affect one’s life long-term.

These are only a few examples of the way depression can lead to risky situations. Sometimes, not feeling good on the inside can lead to finding ways to feel better – fast! However, the most dangerous result of untreated depression is suicide. Although it might be obvious, experts have made the connection between thoughts that commonly appear with depression and the desire to commit suicide. For instance, when you’re not feeling good about yourself and your life, which is a primary symptom of depression, thoughts about death are common and there is sometimes a strong enough disdain for your life that suicide starts to feel like an option.

Although suicide is difficult to predict, there are some signs that indicate that a person might be contemplating it. Research shows that many give clear warning signs before taking their lives. Some of these warning signs are:

  • Talking about dying.
  • A change in personality.
  • Change in eating habits.
  • Fear of losing control.
  • Low self esteem.
  • No hope for the future.
  • Threats of suicide — either direct or indirect.
  • Verbal hints such as “I won’t be around much longer” or “It’s hopeless.
  • Obsession with death.
  • Overwhelming sense of guilt, shame or rejection.
  • Putting affairs in order (for example, giving or throwing away favorite possessions).
  • Sudden cheerfulness after a period of depression.
  • Dramatic change in personality or appearance.
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.

Yet, it’s important to know that both depression and addiction are treatable. Even after a prolonged addiction, recovery is still possible, albeit difficult. Treatment for drug addiction is not unlike treating a chronic illness. It must include the transformation of deeply embedded habits, thoughts, and beliefs. As these internal patterns find change, the experience of addiction and depression will also change.

Furthermore, there are medications and specific types of therapy that have been successful in the treatment of addiction and psychological illness. With your commitment to sobriety, your willingness to do what it takes to stay sober, medication and therapy, full recovery is absolutely possible.

 

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Men’s Sober Living: Male Depression & Alcoholism

Men's Sober Living: Male Depression & Alcoholism | Transcend Recovery Community

Many men don’t even know that they’re depressed. They can easily get caught up in work, responsibilities, taking care of the family, and being a provider. It’s easy for them to lose themselves in what they believe is expected of them. It’s easy for them to lose a connection with themselves.

Jimmy Brown, a firefighter, described his depression in this way:

“My daily routine was shot. I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I got up because the dog had to be walked and my wife needed to go to work. The day would go by and I didn’t know where it went. I wanted to get back to normal. I just wanted to be myself again.”

Depression is a psychological condition that many people experience. It tends to have a stigma in our society, and for that reason, it’s rarely discussed. Yet, many individuals have depression that is easily disguised because it’s such a familiar experience to their life. If a man begins to feel uncomfortable, for instance, the thought of depression may not enter his mind. Instead, they may simply crave a cold beer or a visit to the local bar.

Men who don’t recognize they have depression won’t seek help, and they are often reluctant to talk about their feelings. Instead, it’s easier to escape to alcohol. Drinking can become a self-medication that helps men feel better and lose the heaviness they may be feeling inside.  However, over time, if the self medication that alcohol or drugs provide develops into an addiction, both the depression and the addiction will need to be treated, if and when that time comes. Achieving sober living means treating not only the depression but also the addiction which only masks the deeper problem.

Fortunately, many men’s sober living facilities are beginning to offer mental health treatment in addition to drug counseling and addiction treatment. The sober help that an addict acquires needs to address both the depression as well as the addiction. Sadly, there are many treatment facilities that do not fully address both conditions, making long-term sober living difficult to sustain – an individual might experience chronic relapse because his or her underlying condition hasn’t been resolved.

The word depression has Latin roots that mean “pressed down.” It is as though the energy of the mind and heart has been pushed inward instead of expressed and leaves an individual feeling “down”, despondent, or low. Men with depression may experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling down
  • Irritability
  • Guilt
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Social withdrawal
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor memory
  • Indecision
  • Slow thinking
  • Loss of motivation
  • Sleep disturbance – insomnia / hypersomnia
  • Appetite disturbance – weight loss/gain
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Constipation

About 9 percent of American adults suffer from depression, and globally, five percent of the population across the planet suffers from depression. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability among teens and adults ages 15-44.

Although depression is difficult to go through, like addiction, it is treatable! No matter what stage of addiction the condition of depression arises, it can be managed with psychotherapy and medication. Medication help relieve symptoms of depression, and this is particularly important when drinking stops. When the cycle of addiction comes to an end, men may be vulnerable to feeling more depressed because there is nothing masking their mood any longer. Medication can help relieve these symptoms while psychotherapy can facilitate healing any life events that may be contributing to the depression.

Men should know that sober living is not depressed living; it is living with happiness, meaning, and fulfillment.

 

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Sober Living: How Depression & Addiction Are Closely Related

Sober Living: How Depression & Addiction Are Intimately Related | Transcend Recovery Community

Men and women in recovery are often surprised to learn that they were using drugs or alcohol to manage a condition they didn’t know they had. At first, it’s reassuring when addicts find out that there is a disease called alcoholism that helps to explain their self-destructive behavior. However, when they also discover that beneath the alcoholism there is depression or bipolar disorder or anxiety, it can be difficult to bear. It might be startling at first.

Yet, for many having a deeper understanding of the internal landscape is helpful. For example, understanding how alcoholism was masking a psychological illness and how treating both of them can lead to solutions is also enlightening! A large percentage of those who develop addictions experience depression before, during, and after an addiction.

Before:

Depression is a psychological condition that many people experience. It tends to have a stigma in our society, and for that reason, it’s rarely discussed. Yet, many individuals have depression that is easily disguised because it’s such a familiar experience to their life.

The word depression has Latin roots that mean “pressed down.” It is as though the energy of the mind and heart has been pushed inward instead of expressed and leaves an individual feeling “down”, despondent, or low. One symptom that is common with depression, among adults is the loss of an ability to enjoy things. An individual might lose interest in sports, favorite classes, friends, and socializing. Other symptoms include:

  • Feeling down
  • Irritability
  • Guilt
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Social withdrawal
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor memory
  • Indecision
  • Slow thinking
  • Loss of motivation
  • Sleep disturbance – insomnia / hypersomnia
  • Appetite disturbance – weight loss/gain
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Constipation

When symptoms of depression are present, even though someone may not have the cognitive awareness that they are depressed, an individual might begin to drink or use drugs in order to feel better. Getting high or drunk, of course, helps lift mood and bury uncomfortable feelings. In this way, the need to drink can continue to grow and the cycle of addiction can strengthen.

During:

However, if depression is not treated and the alcohol or drug use continues, it can lead to a condition called co-morbidity. It makes achieving sober living a bit more difficult in that both conditions (alcoholism and depression) must be treated. Each illness has a significant affect on the other and the severity of the alcoholism is usually an indication of the severity of the depression. And the reverse is also true.

The sober help that an addict acquires needs to address both the depression as well as the addiction. Sadly, there are many treatment facilities that do not fully address both conditions, making long-term sober living difficult to sustain – an individual might experience chronic relapse because his or her underlying condition hasn’t been resolved.

After:

In other cases, men and women don’t experience depression before or during their addiction, but depression arises instead after they’ve stopped the addiction. For many, the repressed emotions were held down for so long by the addiction, and now, the sobriety is finally allowing the full experience of those feelings. Adding to this are the challenges that a newly recovered addict frequently faces at the start of their sober life. Frequently, he or she is faced with difficult life conditions such as housing, employment, few friends, etc. These challenging circumstances can bring on an experience of depression.

Although depression is difficult to go through, like addiction, it is treatable! No matter what stage of addiction the condition of depression arises (before, during, or after), it can be managed with psychotherapy and medication. You should know that sober living is not depressed living; it is living with happiness, meaning, and gratitude for one’s life.

 

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Sober Living: Exploring the Meaning & Deeper Message

Sober Living: Exploring the Meaning & Deeper Message | Transcend Recovery Community

A sober living facility is a home that provides a safe and nurturing environment. They are sometimes also referred to as a halfway house, transitional sober living home, a structured living facility, or a place to receive post-care services. Yet, regardless of the name, they exist to assist individuals in recovery to take the steps they need to begin a new life.

Often, they are for those who making a transition from an inpatient treatment center for drug and alcohol abuse. There, a recovering individual might participate in drug counseling to address substance abuse, therapy to treat mental illnesses, and other forms of therapeutic treatment to address behavioral issues that often contribute to addiction. For instance, some inpatient treatment centers are beginning to employ behavioral health therapists to ensure that behavioral concerns are well addressed. The level of services are intense and often available 24 hours a day.

When that intensive treatment comes to an end, most recovering individuals are not yet ready to move back home. While the inpatient treatment program facilitated the withdrawal from the addiction, there is still plenty to heal. There continues to be the many internal patterns, poor decision making, and old wounds to restore to health. Furthermore, if there are co-occurring disorders (such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and PTSD), a sober living home can be a safe place to get the treatment that’s needed. Although some sober living facilities won’t be able to provide all the psychiatric or psychological services you need, they can serve as central point to help you coordinate those services so that all your needs are met.

Each sober living facility can provide a variety of services to assist in the transition from inpatient drug and alcohol treatment to transitional living. The aim of these facilities is to assist individuals during this precarious stage and help them become re-integrated into day-to-day life.

However, there is a deeper message of sober living facilities. They serve as a haven and a bridge. In order to meet the demands of your life, as it was before you left, you’re going to need a kind of inner strength that didn’t exist before. Let’s face it, if you had the strength to meet the emotional, psychological, and daily responsibilities of your life, you probably wouldn’t have reached for the drugs or alcohol.

So, it’s not just a matter of getting off the drugs or stopping the drinking; recovery is also finding a new you. Recovery is putting the pieces together again so that you are stronger than you were before. Recovery is finding the inner resources that were buried while you were in the cycle of addiction, and it is uncovering the wounds that the addiction was trying to mask.

Recovery is a full and rich process of self-discovery and incredible transformation, if you’re ready for it. There’s a joke in the mental health field that goes like this:

How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb?
The answer?  Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.

And it’s true. And for this reason, a sober living home is more than a place to transition from a drinking life to a non-drinking life; it’s a place to finally come home to yourself.

 

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