alcoholism and depression

Alcohol Abuse and Depression: Understanding the Connection

In general, we are constantly exposed to the idea of fixing a tough week with a “happy hour” hang out on the weekends, whether it is with co-workers or friends. Binge drinking has been idealized as a way to make you feel better after feeling too stressed out or upset, so it’s no wonder that most people now do that on a weekly basis. Even though drinking a little too much every once in a while could be harmless, it is the link between emotions and drinking according to them that can be a problem if someone is dealing with a mental illness.

It is basically impossible not to come in contact with alcohol nowadays, as most social events involve drinking. So people that suffer from depression will certainly drink eventually, and if they don’t know they suffer from it in the first place, that can put them at risk of alcohol abuse. Yes, addiction doesn’t happen automatically with one drink, but since symptoms of depression don’t go away on their own either, chances are that one drink will be the first of many before a downward spiral.

Alcohol abuse and depression are also connected in the sense that they can feed off each other. Alcohol is a depressant, so as the drinking happens more often and in higher doses, the initial feeling of inhibition and relaxation will wear out and be replaced by sadness, anger, or anxiety. That, added to the other symptoms of depression, can lead to alcohol abuse and the user might not even realize that a disorder is the root of the problem.

How Do I Identify Depression?

Feeling a surge of sadness or feeling down can happen to anyone, and it is a natural reaction to anything sad in life. Having that feeling alone is a way to process bad news, big changes, losing someone, and should not be something to avoid or suppress. But depression is more than that, and one of its signs is if these feelings last for more than two weeks or even months.

If these feelings are somehow so bad that they affect your daily life drastically, that should be a cause for concern. In this scenario, alcohol abuse and depression can be more likely to happen, and will only make things worse. Contrary to popular belief, however, depression isn’t just staying in bed and/or crying or feeling only deep sadness. Some signs to look out for are also:

  • Losing interest in things that brought pleasure (i.e.: hobbies, physical activities, sex)
  • Having a harder time making decisions, big and/or simple
  • Feelings of restlessness or agitation
  • Changes in weight, either losing or gaining too much of it
  • Loss of self-confidence, purpose, and hope
  • Physical aches or pains with no apparent reason and that won’t go away even with treatment
  • Numbness or emptiness (as opposed to feeling too much)
  • Being easily and constantly irritable
  • Not being able to focus or concentrate even in mundane activities
  • Having very low energy and fatigue even without doing much

While not everyone will experience depression the same way or many of its symptoms, being diagnosed is the only way to know for sure if someone might be suffering from depression. Since there are different levels and disorders related to symptoms of depression, getting help will not just identify the problem, but will help a psychiatrist or another health care provider know what treatment should be applied.

Something else that should be taken into consideration is family history with either alcohol abuse or depression or any other mental illnesses. Genes also come into play when identifying what someone is going through, as most of these disorders can often be passed down from generation to generation. Disclose any information you might find important to share, even if there was no official diagnosis of family members you believe displayed characteristics of mental illnesses.

How Can I Get Help?

Alcohol abuse and depression are illnesses that can affect one another, but it is more than possible to break that cycle. It is scientifically proven that cutting down on alcohol consumption can help symptoms of depression, so while they are hard to deal with simultaneously, improvements with one condition can bring on improvements with the other. Even in the case of suffering from other disorders combined, a condition called dual-diagnosis, keeping on with a drinking habit can worsen or accelerate the course of the psychiatric disorder, so any suspicions should not be taken lightly. 

Dual-diagnosis can come in many forms, not just in the combination of depression and alcohol abuse, and almost 60% of addicts suffer from a second psychiatric illness. It is not uncommon, and we at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare have experience and resources to aid dual-diagnosis patients with both disorders. From alcohol abuse to opioids, we have options for many different scenarios, no matter what is being dealt with.

If you or a loved one need to get help for one or more disorders, do not hesitate to contact us. Visit our website and get all the information you need to meet with someone that will answer all your questions and explain everything that we can do to help anyone deal, understand, and free themselves from alcohol abuse, depression, and any other mental illness holding them down.

References:

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/mental-health/alcohol-and-depression/

https://www.psycom.net/depression-substance-abuse

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3658562/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874911/

https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/problems-disorders/depression

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

dual diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis: What is it? Am I a Candidate for Treatment?

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

As the name suggests, dual diagnosis describes patients that have been diagnosed with two different disorders: one being a mental disorder, like depression or bipolar disorder, and the other, a substance abuse problem, which could be alcohol or drugs. Since most people with a mental disorder can have quite easy access to both, it is not unlikely for them to develop a dependence on these substances.

More often than not, a lot of people will actually try to find comfort or a way to numb the pain by drinking or using drugs, so those two walk hand in hand quite frequently. In fact, a national survey done in 2014 revealed that 7.9 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from both a psychiatric disorder and an addictive disorder. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 6 out of 10 addicts also have another disorder – that is a 60% chance that an addict is a dual-diagnosis worthy patient.

It is still not possible to say why mental disorders and addictions tend to coincide more often than not, but there are many theories and studies to try to understand dual-diagnosis patients. It seems as though one affects or triggers the other, no matter which one is apparent first. While children and teenagers with psychological disorders (such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are considered at higher risk of becoming addicted than other children, it seems drug abuse alone can also accelerate the course of mental illnesses. Either can come first when it comes to dual-diagnosis addicts.

Symptoms

Dual-diagnosis patients can be diagnosed with a number of different “combinations” of disorders. Therefore, symptoms will vary a lot from person to person, depending on which substance they are addicted to and which mental disorder they have. While keeping in mind that a lot of symptoms from withdrawal are also common in mental disorders (anxiety, depression, and even hallucinations, for instance), some symptoms or signs to look out for are:

  • Going overboard when consuming drugs and/or alcohol or doing it too often
  • Putting themselves in risky or dangerous situations (especially worse if doing so by impulse)
  • Changing behaviors and routines drastically
  • Noticing symptoms unrelated to the withdrawal of alcohol or illegal substances alone
  • Symptoms that won’t go away after getting treatment for addiction
  • Social isolation or generally avoiding events that used to bring pleasure
  • Family history of either one of the conditions (substance abuse and/or mental illness)
  • Difficulty accepting, starting, or following instructions for treatment
  • Not managing to do daily tasks like proper personal hygiene or groceries
  • Be aware of a change in thought processes: if they become too incoherent, disillusioned, or too dark, bordering or becoming suicidal

It is because so many of the symptoms tend to overlap between disorders that addicts need to receive a proper diagnosis in order to know how to proceed when seeking the right treatment for them. Each disorder requires its own kind of treatment, and not just because they are separate illnesses. One of the main problems is that they affect each other mutually, meaning that if one is not treated correctly, it could bring on symptoms of the other – especially in the case of not treating the mental illness, as it could be the root of the consumption of substances.

Besides keeping an eye on the symptoms listed, in order for you to know whether you might be a dual-diagnosis patient, you might need to visit different types of specialists. While drug or alcohol abuse can be considered a mental illness in and of itself, it requires different approaches to treatment than, say, borderline disorders. For instance, while anxiety can be a symptom of withdrawal, chronic anxiety is different, more persistent, and not just related to substance abuse, so it needs to be treated accordingly.

Treatment and Prevention

Dual-diagnosis cases can be treated in many different ways, and while the diagnoses are an obvious factor to be considered when being treated, other aspects of the patient will dictate which treatment option would be best for them. Age, family history, drug intolerance, type of substance, frequency and amount of use, drugs previously used in treatments – all of this must be taken into consideration.

One of the methods commonly used along with other programs is behavioral therapy. Most of them focus on changing habits and frequent thought processes that might bring a patient to harmful behavior as well. While that alone cannot be the only method applied to help dual-diagnosis patients, it has proven quite effective when included in programs. Additionally, some of the other techniques used are detoxification (when needed), group therapy, and any medical supervision recommended.

Prevention is also possible, and even from an early age. Receiving early diagnosis of a psychiatric illness such as ADHD, anxiety, or depression can help not just to get treated for the disorder, but it can actually prevent the development of a substance abuse problem, as it is almost impossible to prevent exposure. Early exposure, in fact, has proven to be a trigger, so being mindful and careful of that might also lower the risks of someone becoming addicted.

You Can Get The Help You Need With Us

At Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, dual-diagnosis patients can count with all the help they need when getting rid of their substance abuse problem for good. While it might seem like so much work right now, as you have to deal with two different issues, it is achievable. If you have tried methods before and they failed, this does not mean you are hopeless. Relapse is quite common, especially in dual-diagnosis cases, but they are not a sign of weakness – they just mean you need to keep trying.

We will be more than happy to meet with you and find out what your needs are, so we can work on a plan that will work for you. We offer outpatient programs that are essential for anyone who might need to keep on with their routines, no matter the reason. While dual-diagnosis patients need to look out for two different illnesses and seem to have to do double the work, we also offer a special Recover Strong program, which will additionally help with self-image and self-esteem while also providing a way to improve your social life – one less thing to worry about.

So whether you know this program interests you or you just want to hear more about the benefits we offer, contact us today. Visit our website for all the needed contact information. We are here to help: no matter how many hoops you need to go through, we are here to see you get to where you need to be on the trip to a healthier you.

References:

“The Opposite of Addiction is Connection”

An Inability To Connect

In his Ted Talk from TEDGlobal London, Johann Hari makes the statement that, “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection.” This powerful statement is at once a message of hope to those suffering from addiction and an indictment of the way our culture has treated addicts for the last 100 years. Mr. Hari spent three years studying addiction by traveling the world speaking to individuals on all sides of the issues. What he was left with was an understanding that behind and underneath addiction of all sorts is an inability to connect, to engage in a life of purpose. While I do not agree with everything Mr Hari says during his talk, I am passionate about this idea of connection. The most common experience for any addict is a feeling of isolation and inability to connect in a meaningful way with others and the world around them.

Overcoming The Mental Challenges

In order to overcome addiction and transform our lives we need to do many things. First we need to be in a community that encourages connection and commitment. Many addicts find this community in treatment. In this safe community we can take the next step which is to address the root causes of the lack of connection. For many this will be some form of trauma they have suffered which causes their lack of connection. For others it is underlying behavioral or mental health disorders. Therapeutic measures can be utilized to great effect in both sets of circumstances. Once an individual has begun this work the next step is to find a life of purpose that they can show up for. There are as many ways to find a life of purpose as their are individuals. The challenge for many who suffer from addiction is they don’t know how to go about it.

Constantly Seek Purpose

At Granite Mountain BHC we first find purpose in the gym, and in the commitment to our peers not to quit. We build from this initial purpose by drawing parallels from our experience in the gym to the rest of our lives, and by creating meaningful connections within our Granite Mountain community. If I can meet and overcome challenges during the Recover Strong group, maybe I can push through when I’m having a bad day at work, or my relationships are difficult. Our clients are able to transform their lives through the three pillars of commitment, connection and community. At Granite Mountain they are able to experience connection with their peers, staff, and themselves. This connection is at the heart of their purpose as they strive to better themselves and the community they are a part of. After their time with us they are then able to take these three pillars back to their community of origin and continue building upon this foundation, a life of meaning and purpose.

Please take a moment to view this inspiring video, and perhaps re-conceive what you think you know about addiction.

 

Until next time,

Your friend in service,
Rob Campbell

VP of Communications and Market Development


If you or someone you love is in need of help for substance use disorder please give us a call today. We understand and we are here to help.