Depression and Substance Abuse

The holidays can bring on a time of depression for some individuals. Many people have lost loved ones and feel very lonely during this time of year. Or, they might be estranged from their families. For whatever reason, if you are feeling depressed this holiday season, remember that depression and substance abuse are not a good combination. Trying to get rid of your loneliness or depression with substances of abuse will not help.

Depression and Alcohol Abuse

Self-medicating depression with alcohol (or any other substance) is not the answer to your problem. By trying to rid yourself of your depression with alcohol you are only increasing your chances of alcohol abuse or addiction. In fact, alcohol can even make your symptoms of sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness worse rather than better.

Major depression (also called clinical depression) can last for weeks, months, or even years. This type of depression can leave a person incapacitated without the ability to work or even function around the home with family members. However, alcohol or any other is not the answer. Alcohol is a depressant and may make you feel better for a little while. But, in the long run, it will only cause you more problems and add to your depression.

Depression and Substance Abuse

Alcohol or other substances may cause you to feel happy temporarily. However, you cannot rely on substances to make you feel better every day. After a period of time, you will come to rely on alcohol or drugs both physically and emotionally. With drug abuse comes financial problems along with a long list of other problems in your life.

Depression and substance abuse should never be combined. If you are struggling with depression during the holidays for whatever reason, reach out for medical help or counseling. Don’t think that you can use different substances just to make it through the difficult holidays. Substance abuse does not work this way. If the depression is being caused only by the holidays, definitely do not think you can self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.

Individuals in Recovery from Addiction

The holidays can be particularly difficult for individuals who struggle with depression and substance abuse. If you are in recovery from addiction, you will face temptations and triggers during the holidays anyway, without the addition of depression in the mix. However, don’t feel as if you can drink or use drugs only for these few days or weeks to help you through the holidays and then return to your sobriety. This will not work! You may relapse back into a full-blown addiction.

If you are in recovery and are feeling depressed or having the blues during the holidays, seek additional counseling. Reach out to family and friends. Let them help you during this time. Attend more group meetings than you normally do, even if it takes attending one each day. Find sober activities to do with sober friends. Try your best to get out and do something other than think about your sadness, and even loss if that is the case.

Help Others Who are Less Fortunate

One way to make yourself feel better is to volunteer and help others who are less fortunate than you. There are many community services you can help with, such as feeding meals to the homeless or those who wouldn’t otherwise have a Christmas meal. Work with charities to accept donations for toys for those children who might not have a gift for Christmas. The feeling of doing something good for others will help your depression more than you can imagine during the holiday season.

Seek Help for Depression and Substance Abuse

Heavy alcohol use may produce or exacerbate depressive symptoms.

If you are trying to self-medicate your depression with alcohol or any other substance of abuse, please contact New Beginnings. We can guide you in the direction you need for an addiction treatment program that covers dual-diagnosis. We can help you find a treatment plan that will include both, your depression and addiction.

Don’t continue to struggle through the holidays or any other days. Seek the help you need now. Contact us at New Beginnings. One of our representatives can answer any questions you may have about a treatment program that will meet your individual needs and preferences. Make that call now!


  • ncbi.nlm.nih.govAlcohol Use Among Depressed Patients: The Need for Assessment and Intervention

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