Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Depression and Alcohol

I was a goodie two-shoes in high school.  I didn’t drink and I didn’t do drugs.

College was a different story.

As my depression got increasingly worse, I turned to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate.

At the time, I didn’t realize I was relying on those substances to cope with my troubled existence.  In a very short time, I began using alcohol to survive.  It seemed like everyone else could handle drinking and partying just fine.  I quickly noticed, however, that I was different.  I began to seek out the high instead of the party.  I became obsessed with alcohol and forgot about socializing.

After my “turning point”, I gave up drinking.  I was highly encouraged to do so by my doctor, as well.  By “highly encouraged”, I mean, I would still be in the hospital if I didn’t agree to stay sober.  When it came down to it, I had to commit to the decision for myself.

Alcohol, as a substance, is officially labeled a “downer”.  If you are struggling with the blues, alcohol will bring you down further.  If you are struggling with major clinical depression, alcohol can be life threatening.

Everyone occasionally feels down or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days or so. When you have major clinical depression, it doesn’t go away no matter what you do.  It can completely debilitate you.  It is way more complicated than, “just getover it”.

Personally, I believe, an essential aspect of my recovery is staying away from alcohol.  In medical jargon, you will be told: 

Recognize the biological effects of alcohol use. Avoid or minimize alcohol use. Alcohol is a depressant in which prolonged or excessive use will increase and deepen symptoms associated with depression. Alcohol can produce a "high" and initial relief from depression. Regular alcohol use, even in moderation, can prolong recovery and deepen symptoms of depression. (Info from this site)

Giving up alcohol has been very difficult.  When I am faced with temptation, I remember that I don’t want to go back to the way I was before.  I remember the negative consequences if I drink.  For the most part, remembering why I am doing what I am doing helps me to avoid giving in.

I am committed to never drinking alcohol again.  It’s not worth it.  I have made so much progress with recovery so far.  One drink is not worth the ten wasted years of my life.  Why would I ever want to purposefully take steps backward now?  I know the facts and I do not think that I am above the facts.  I do not think that I am the exception to the statistics.  I admit that I am not super-human.  So, in conclusion, I admit that I will never drink again.

If you are going through a tough time and are feeling down in the dumps, it might be a good thing to stay away from the alcohol.  Whether or not you struggle with depression, alcohol has proven negative psychological effects.  When you are sad, it’s okay to feel sad.  You don't have to immediately be "not sad" every time you feel blue.  It is okay to feel something other than happy and content all the time.  Seeking out relief from alcohol is a slippery slope.  Everyone is human.  You are not as super-human as you think.  You are not the exception to the rules.  Guard that precious gift you have been given, your life.  Not only protect it, but nourish it, as well!
Until next time, TAKE CARE!

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