Some people who struggle with depression self-medicate using alcohol. Unfortunately, substance misuse, like binge drinking to cope with depression, can lead to dependency and potential addiction. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “8.1 percent of adults ages 18 to 22 met the criteria for” alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2019. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis related to AUD or depression, the care team at Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can help you recover.
The Dangers of Drinking When Depressed
Depression affects all areas of a person’s life and can cause significant emotional and physical distress. To function and cope with everyday stressors and responsibilities, some people choose to misuse alcohol or other substances. The benefits are temporary; in the end, self-medicating causes even more health problems.
Not everyone self-medicates intentionally. Sometimes they feel overwhelmed and unable to control how much they drink while experiencing a depressive episode.
The dangers of drinking while severely depressed include:
- Increased risk of dependency, addiction, and overdose
- Higher risk of self-harm, suicide, or severe injury
- Reduced ability to make sound choices and problem-solve effectively
- Increased risk of being in a car accident
Alcohol misuse and depression have many overlapping risk factors and symptoms. According to Alcohol Research Current Reviews, “Studies have indicated that the co-occurrence of AUD and depressive disorders is associated with greater severity and worse prognosis for both disorders.” Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can ensure you get the support, treatment, and resources you need to address all underlying issues and co-occurring conditions related to depression. In many cases, early intervention and treatment of depressive symptoms can significantly lower the risk of developing AUD.
Connections Between Alcohol Use Disorder and Depression
A lot of factors overlap between depression and alcohol misuse, including:
- Family history of alcohol misuse or depression
- Childhood trauma
- Chronic or acute stress
Most people who misuse alcohol or other substances while experiencing depressive symptoms do not have enough social support. An inability to cope with stress or anxiety can cause some people to react in maladaptive ways, including substance misuse. In addition, people who have previously struggled with substance misuse may return to those behaviors if they suddenly begin to experience mood swings. Stress can trigger intense cravings and intrusive thoughts for people in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD).
How to Recognize the Signs of Addiction
Recognizing the signs of dependency and addiction can motivate people to get the help they need before AUD causes significant damage. Below are signs that a person may have developed addictive behaviors:
- Inability to control how much or how often they drink
- Withdrawal symptoms if they abstain
- Tremors, shakiness, or muscle weakness
- Cravings and intrusive thoughts about drinking
- Unusual aggression or irritation
- Compulsive and risk-taking behaviors
- Lack of motivation
- Drinking alcohol takes priority over personal or professional responsibilities
Not everyone who binge drinks or frequently drinks more than the recommended limit will develop AUD. However, the above signs significantly increase the likelihood of a person becoming dependent on alcohol misuse. Clinical diagnosis is essential to ensure you get the treatment you need. Signs of alcohol misuse, including changes to appetite, sleep, or general hygiene, may not be reliable indicators in individuals with depression. The two disorders share many symptoms and side effects.
Treating Alcohol Misuse and Co-occurring Depression
Depression and AUD require simultaneous treatment to ensure the best possible outcome. If you only focus on one disorder, it can interfere with your ability to maintain positive routines established during treatment. The most common treatments for AUD and co-occurring depression include:
- Peer support in the form of self-help meetings or group therapy
- Individual therapy
- Prescription medication
- Crisis intervention
- Relapse prevention education
- Family therapy and support services
- Skill development
- Alternative holistic therapies
Most get treated with a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and alternative methods that meet their unique needs. During treatment, you will collaborate with your care team to find the best way to accommodate your preferences while providing critical support. Learning to cope effectively with depression and withdrawal symptoms will reduce your risk of relapse and decrease symptoms.
Managing Depression During Long-Term Recovery
Aftercare ensures you have access to essential support services to keep you healthy and moving forward during ongoing recovery. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention provides referrals and additional resources to help clients maintain sobriety and cope with depression long-term. AUD is a brain disease with no cure. However, you can manage the condition successfully.
Early intervention that takes place before addictive behaviors become established can provide results. You can recover from depression and alcohol misuse using evidence-based methods provided by our treatment facility. We can help you grow and thrive during recovery.
Depression contributes to the development of alcohol misuse and dependency. Some people with depression use alcohol to cope with the side effects and symptoms in an attempt to function day-to-day. Although people may use alcohol to cope with depression, in the long run, it only causes additional physical and mental health issues that decrease their quality of life. You can protect yourself from becoming dependent or addicted to substances like alcohol by getting treatment for any depression symptoms as soon as you notice them. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention uses evidence-based methods for depression therapy San Diego to treat individuals struggling with depression and co-occurring disorders. To learn more about our services and how we can help you, call us today at (866) 986-1481.