Overcoming Depression and Substance Use at the Same Time

If recovering from a substance use disorder on its own isn’t already hard enough, facing depression simultaneously brings on another set of challenges. 

Thankfully, in recent years medical and mental health communities have gained an important understanding of the prevalence of comorbid substance use and mental illness. New research has enhanced the way co-occurring disorders are diagnosed and treated.

If you’re working to overcome depression during rehab, you can now be treated for both conditions at the same time. While you’re in recovery, here are some tips to keep in mind.

How to combat depression during recovery

1. Stop masking emotions

If you’re trying to bury your emotions, drugs and alcohol can usually do the trick. In life though, suppressing our feelings only leads to—frustration, anger, depression, shame and resentment—in the long-run.

Leaving substances in the past means that you’ll need to embrace your emotions, and learn how to do so in a safe and constructive way. You’ll need new outlets to handle your emotions, such as therapy, coping skills, meditation, journaling and so on.

2. Fill your life with meaning

No one knows better than you that leaving substances behind can leave a void in your life. Previously, you always had drugs or alcohol to pass the time, bring euphoric feelings, relieve stress or bring social opportunities. As you pursue sobriety, you’ll need to find new ways to fill your days.

This step in the journey will look different for each individual, but it’s crucial that you find enjoyable hobbies, passions and relationships to make your life full and meaningful again.

3. Get serious about a schedule

Depression tends to affect people most when they are isolated or feeling aimless. In order to keep the worst moments of depression and the worst days of recovery from building up to a relapse, you’ll want to take measures to ensure you’re not caught in a tricky situation.

Building a routine that helps you to manage both depression and a substance use disorder could be the game-changer you need. 

How do you build a schedule to reflect this? First, consider the times you’re most tempted to use or most affected by symptoms of depression. Whether it’s a day of the week, late at night or after a hard day at work, you’ll have to build coping strategies into your schedule at those times.

Plan to get dinner with a friend after work, attend a workout class during your down-time or have a check in with your sponsor late at night. Keep yourself accountable and invite others into your routine to protect your sobriety. 

4. Meet with a psychiatrist

While you’re in recovery for a substance use disorder, you may be hesitant when anyone mentions taking drugs. However, the right prescription medication taken in accordance with a doctor’s orders may be the key to lasting success in sobriety and mental wellbeing.

Depending on the substance you’re in rehab for, there are numerous options for medication-assisted treatment. Medications for recovery are designed to decrease cravings, reduce symptoms of withdrawal and block the effects of a drug should you relapse.

Moreover, medication for co-occurring depression can reduce your stress, lessen your symptoms and help you manage sadness. This can have a positive impact on your recovery, since decreased depression will mean you have fewer triggers to drink or use drugs.

5. Keep a journal

In depression and recovery it can be hard to find motivation. Even when you’re putting in plenty of effort, treatment can feel slow-moving. That’s why you’ll want to keep a journal during the healing process.

Journaling is a great way to track progress, notice personal improvements, process experiences and identify when more intervention is needed. You’ll see clearly decreased symptomality, something that can be hard to gauge for depression. You’ll also be able to read over your own words from weeks or months in the past and see how far you’ve come so you can celebrate victories.

6. Don’t procrastinate

Depression and recovery aren’t things that you should put on hold. The longer you wait to find healing, the harder it will become. The best way to handle comorbid depression and substance use disorder is to make an appointment to start treatment today.

Bluff Augusta can offer you the fresh start you need. Services that address both substance use and mental illness are available to give you the holistic treatment you deserve. A comprehensive assessment, top-notch medical care and a variety of engaging therapeutic modalities can help you find success in recovery and life.

Get in touch today.