Why Are We Feeling Depression in Early Recovery?
Early recovery can be an extremely trying time for various reasons. Not only are you learning to live a life without drugs and alcohol, but you are essentially starting from scratch and learning how to be a functional member of society for what might be the very first time. It can be difficult to navigate your emotions during this period, specifically because you are probably used to turning to chemical substances whenever things get hard. During this time, many people experience depression in early sobriety.
Many individuals who use drugs and alcohol initially begin using them as a means of self-medication – they don’t want to deal with what they are feeling, so they use chemical substances to stifle these feelings and numb them entirely. If this sounds like you, early recovery will undeniably be full of challenges. The good news is that with the right tools, you can overcome all of these challenges and maintain sobriety long-term. The bad news is that if you resort to old, unhealthy coping mechanisms, you will probably find yourself in a deep pit of depression quickly.
Reasons Why Depression and Early Recovery Go Hand-In-Hand
There are many reasons why depression and early recovery go hand-in-hand, including:
- Many individuals who struggle with drug addiction or alcoholism lose quite a lot at the hands of their substance abuse disorder. The consequences of their actions can catch up to them when they are in recovery and lead to feelings of grief, sadness, shame, or guilt.
- It takes time to know what you enjoy and what you want to dedicate your free time to. Some people who are new to sobriety experience depression as a result of boredom because rather than explore their options, they choose to sit at home and contemplate an alternative to the life they are currently leading.
- Some chemical substances can cause depression. Alcohol, for example, is a chemical depressant. Individuals who drink excessively for extended periods are far more likely to develop depression than members of the general public. If you did develop depression as a result of your substance abuse, there is a good chance you will need to be medicated – at least short-term.
Overcoming Depression in Early Sobriety
While your first instinct might be to reach for a bottle of pills or a very stiff drink, you can overcome depression in early recovery and quickly lead the happy and fulfilling life you deserve. To overcome symptoms of depression as efficiently and effectively as possible, try sticking to the following guidelines. If you need additional help or support or feel like your symptoms might lead to relapse, reach out to Agape Treatment Center today.
- First, speak with your therapist and let him or her know what is happening. You might need antidepressant medication, and your therapist can put you in contact with a licensed psychologist.
- Once you have met with a licensed psychologist, try seeking a dual diagnosis program of outpatient treatment – or some level of continuing care. Entering an intensive outpatient or outpatient program often means the difference between relapse and long-term recovery.
- Amp up your recovery program to ward off symptoms of depression. This might mean attending two 12-step meetings every day rather than one or meeting with your sponsor three times a week rather than twice a week. Do what you need to do to make it through the tough times, knowing that everything is temporary and easier times are ahead.
Agape Treatment Center – Comprehensive Addiction Treatment
At Agape Treatment Center, we understand just how difficult early recovery can be, and we are available to help every single step of the way. For more information on depression and early recovery, reach out to us at any point in time.