Many of us who struggle with substance abuse also struggle with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. When the two different illnesses affect us simultaneously, they are often referred to as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnoses. Those of us suffering from these particular issues are aware of the dualistic nature of our illnesses and have grown accustomed to having to deal with both at the same time. What we’re often less aware of is that many of the drugs we take are depressants and can have a direct effect on our emotions, causing us to feel more depressed than we might otherwise.
We often will use drugs to help us cope with our difficult emotions, our sadness and fear, our insecurity and self-hatred. Drugs provide a temporary escape and distraction from the things we would rather not have to face. While we’re using these drugs, though, we’re contributing to our mental and emotional unwellness. Many drugs, including alcohol, are known to be depressants. They depress both our cognitive and emotional functioning, making us feel sad, hopeless, irritable and uneasy. When we come out of our high, we’re left feeling even worse, and our existing depression has been exacerbated, not only by the ill effects that the drugs have on our lives and everything we’re going through, but by the depressing effects they have on our brain chemistry and thought patterns. When our high wears off, we’re also flooded with feelings of guilt, shame, regret and despair because we’ve succumbed once again to temptation. We feel even worse about ourselves when we aren’t able to withstand our addictive urges and break the recurring addictive cycle. We’re continuing to hurt ourselves and the people we love. We’re still dependent and self-destructive, and the drugs we’re taking are partly to blame.
Another way drugs act as depressants is by decreasing our energy levels and increasing our feelings of fatigue and lethargy. We feel exhausted. We feel groggy, lazy and complacent. We don’t have the motivation or the energy to make positive changes in our lives. We don’t feel we have the inner strength, resilience or willpower to stop our addictive patterns on our own, but we also don’t have the courage or conviction to reach out for help. We become stuck in our recurring cycles of self-destruction, self-sabotage, and drug-induced depression and exhaustion. We feel we can’t remove ourselves from these cycles alone, yet we’re resistant to getting help. This feeling of being stuck, of being powerless and hopeless, can cause us to feel that much more depressed.
Gaining more clarity on our addictions and mental health issues requires an understanding of just how much the drugs we’re taking can literally make us depressed.
Riverside Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.