Sometimes after an individual has gone through drug detox and they’re participating in residential drug treatment, he or she may recognize that beneath the addiction, there was depression. Beneath the cycle of self-harm, there was a long-held state of denial.
It’s common for individuals who are in residential drug treatment and who are coming out of their addiction to uncover the fact that they are facing two diseases: alcoholism and depression.
This is frequently referred to as a co-occurring disorder or having a dual diagnosis. In these cases, both the addiction and the depression must be treated separately.
The idea that alcoholism is a disease, both a physical and psychological illness, helps to accept the fact that it’s larger than you. It an illness that you’re suffering with and now it’s time to understand it and heal.
In fact, the medical understanding of addiction is that it is a disease of the brain that causes obsessive thinking and compulsive action towards use of the alcohol or drugs or other risky behavior (gambling, eating, shopping, or sexual activity).
How Depression and Addiction Go Together
With regard to a drug or alcohol addiction, the chemicals affect the personality, judgment, and values of the individual to the point where they are compromised. This leads to continued use of the drug despite its harmful effects and the ability to exercise any control or restraint becomes weaker.
Instead of realizing that seeking drug abuse help is a necessary step, a person falls deeper and deeper into denial. The cycle of addiction only gets stronger.
Fortunately, once a person enters substance abuse treatment, addiction becomes treatable. Just like a medical illness, addiction also has a specific treatment plan that has shown to be effective over time.
However, instead of only taking medication, drug treatment also includes psychological support such as participating in individual therapy, developing a network of support, working on forming new habits, and changing dysfunctional behavior patterns. All of these combined can lead to long-term sobriety.
Mental Illnes in Addiction
Depression is also a mental illness – a disease of the brain. It’s common for an addiction to mask deeper psychological ailments such as depression. In fact, the word depression has Latin roots that mean “pressed down”.
It is as though emotions are being pushed inward instead of expressed, leaving a person feeling “down”, despondent, or low. And drinking or drugging is certainly a way of pushing emotions away.
Where there are inner experiences that are not being tended to depression can be the result. In some cases, addiction is the extension of an already existing pattern of pushing challenging emotions away. And in this way, addiction is contributing to an already existing depressed state.
Newly Recovering Addict
A newly recovering addict will have to face the depression once the addiction comes to an end. When a person is admitted to a residential drug treatment center, at first the heaviness of depression may present itself and perhaps over time, the challenging feelings that were difficult to face long ago and that led to the addiction in the first place might resurface.
Although this is challenging to experience, finally feeling these emotions can be freeing. It can lead to a final release of those feelings, no longer feeling the need to push away from them, because doing so only makes a person more attached to them.
So the freedom of finally giving your heavy feelings expression, releases a person from their grip. It’s like quicksand, the more you try to wriggle your way out, the more you end up sinking further into the sand. But when you face the dilemma of being stuck, get quiet, and see what’s arising inside with a sense of acceptance, that’s when freedom arises.
Residential drug treatment can avoid both depression and a recurrence of addiction.
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