Alcoholism and depression are what are often referred to as co-occurring disorders because many people who suffer from alcohol addiction also suffer from depression, and being depressed may put a person at higher risk for alcoholism and depression can be a major trigger for drinking. Here are a few tips on how to manage both alcoholism and depression.
1. Have a Strong Support System
One of the best tools in combating both alcoholism and depression is surrounding yourself with supportive people who are a positive force in your life. This means people who support you in your goals and encourage you in times of need. Many recovering addicts find wonderful support in their twelve step programs, where they have a sponsor who can help them in times when they are struggling. Many other people in a support group can listen when things are difficult and can likely offer some insight into what they did when faced with similar situations. A strong support system can also be family members or close friends who are good listeners.
2. Stay Mindful of the the Things You Are Grateful For
One great way to combat depression is to think of the things in your life that you have gratitude for. Gratitude helps you keep your thoughts centered on the things that bring you joy, which naturally helps your mind veer away from depressed or sad thoughts. Gratitude is also an important tool in maintaining sobriety because it reminds you of why you became sober in the first place and why it is so important that you maintain your health and sobriety. Try to begin each day with a mental list of the things that you are happy to wake up to. This could even include waking up with a roof over your head or waking up sober and safe.
3. Do Some Kind of Regular Exercise
Exercise is an important and effective tool in combatting both depression and urges to use. Exercise releases natural hormones like endorphins which serve to help you have a happier and more stable state of mind. Regular exercise has been shown to drastically reduce feelings of anxiety. Exercise also helps strengthen the connection between your mind and your body. This can be an important tool in abstaining from alcohol because the more connected you are to your body, the less likely you are to abuse it and damage it with alcohol.
4. Do Not Skip Therapy Appointments or Twelve Step Meetings
It is very common for recovering addicts to begin to feel stable and happy, only to relapse unexpectedly. One reason for this is that after an addict has achieved some sobriety, they may feel less of an impetus to continue meeting with their therapist or attending meetings. The reality is that addiction lasts an entire lifetime and it is a disease that never goes away and is only treated. The only way to stay healthy and happy is to do the work to avoid or mitigate depression even before it starts or feels too severe. This means attending therapy and meetings even when they do not seem necessary.
5. Engage in Meditation
Meditation has proven to be a wonderful tool in treating addiction because it allows a recovering addict to practice being aware of their thought and urges and learning not to act on them. Meditation also helps with mental clarity and can greatly increase your feelings of calm and well being. It can lower stress, which is certainly a trigger for many alcoholics. It can also help to make obstacles and challenges seem less overwhelming or insurmountable.