“There are wounds that never show on the body that are
deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”
– Laurell K. Hamilton, author of “Mistral’s Kiss”
Addiction recovery is an emotional rollercoaster for even the most stable of people, those with not even a hint of a mental disorder or other condition. However, throw something as mentally debilitating as depression into the mix, and recovery becomes that much harder, that much more fraught with the danger of relapse, and that much much more emotional.
Unless both disorders are professionally treated simultaneously, the chance of recovery becomes so slim you’d be lucky to see a successful one if it even exists in the first place. Yes, the simultaneous treatment of both aspects of a “co-occurring disorder” (where the addict also has a mental disorder of some nature) is that important.
What makes matters worse is that substance addiction and depression are like two childhood best friends – where you find one, the other won’t be far behind. One can actually initiate the other…
Those with hidden or untreated depression are far more likely to choose to self-medicate – to use substances, and then to misuse and abuse them, simply to alleviate the symptoms of their depression.
Likewise, substance addiction returns the sad favor. Addicts, particularly alcoholics (because alcohol is a clear depressant), are far more likely to develop depression as a symptom of their drug addiction and/or alcoholism.
So, this begs the question: How can the addict deal with their depression during addiction recovery, when their crutch, their substance abuse, is removed? For many addicts, the answers to this question are beyond them, and the prospect of losing their mental and physical crutch – the substance addiction – is simply too frightening to even consider.
Hence, they avoid the option of addiction recovery completely, choosing instead to “soldier on” as best they can. However, their choice is in no way the act of a soldier, who is prepared for the battle ahead. Substance addicts, with the co-occurring disorder of depression, prefer to avoid the battle of addiction recovery, believing, wrongly, that they will be safer.
This article is for you if you are one of those who choose to turn their back on the emotional battlefield of addiction recovery. What follows are “3 Ways to Deal with Depression During Addiction Recovery” – sound, practical and professional advice from those working in the field of addiction recovery, and from the experiences of your writer too, as I, myself, spent 6 months in treatment at an alcohol rehab in Boise, Idaho. It’s all about the concept of taking a holistic approach for the recovering addict – treating the mind, body, and soul together. Read on…
Nutrition & Exercise
It is impossible to stressfully the importance of healthy nutrition and exercise for the recovering addict. The two together – nutrition and exercise – are, by far, one of the best ways to conquer the co-occurring disorder of addiction and depression. Here’s why…
Healthy nutrition is usually a complete stranger to an addict, whose eating habits tend to be on the bad side of simply terrible The depletion of vital nutrients in the body of an addict will seriously affect, even damage, your body, mind and soul, and is responsible for the worsening of conditions such as depression. So, a healthy, nutritious diet will ultimately strengthen you, and alleviate the troubling symptoms of both addiction recovery and depression.
Once the new diet kicks in fully, you will have a good and healthy surplus of energy, which is best used in the act of exercise. A healthy exercise routine (and always choose types of exercise that you enjoy) will
- Increase energy and strength
- Increase self-esteem
- Improve mental health
- Release natural endorphins = natural happiness
- Reduce stress
- Reduce substance cravings
Regular Therapy Sessions
Whether it’s one-to-one with a professionally-qualified addiction therapist or regular attendance at an addiction support group, either through a rehab center, NA or AA 12-Step meeting, or another such group or meeting, as a recovering addict, you need therapy. It’s extremely natural to feel a sense of isolation as one of the worst symptoms of depression; therefore, support groups provide excellent and safe social gatherings.
With regard to one-to-one therapy, it’s essential that this deals with both your addiction and your depression. Always be guided by what your therapist recommends to you, in terms of additional therapy.
Find Positive Habits
Did you know that 60% of what you did yesterday, you’ll do again today? Fact. As much as we like to think we are not controlled by our routines, the real truth is that we are very much creatures of habit. So, taking the 60% figure into consideration, doesn’t it make exceptionally good sense to find positive habits, and then allow them to become part of your routine? If you make those positive habits ones that you also enjoy doing or participating in, even better.
Finding such positive habits will allow you to fully enjoy this new life of sobriety. They’ll improve all aspects of your holistic health – your mind, body, and soul – as they will put you first, above anyone else – an essential, and very real, part of addiction recovery.
A Life Addiction-Free
These 3 ways, nutrition, and exercise, regular therapy sessions, and finding positive habits, of dealing with depression during addiction recovery will put you firmly on the road to your own recovery, and keep you there.
Do you have any experience of depression or addiction recovery that you would like to share with other readers? If so, please drop a comment below and share with others. Lastly, remember – millions upon millions of people now enjoy a life addiction-free, and so can you.
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