Co-Occurring Disorders: Depression and Alcoholism

Co-Occurring Disorders: Depression and Alcoholism

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Co-occurring disorders are complex. The definition of co-occurring disorders is when two or more disorders co-exist. Often, mental health disorders and substance use disorder (SUD) co-exist as clients turn to addictive substances to alleviate their mental health symptoms. However, this seemingly innocent dependency can turn into an addiction. For example, clients who are coping with depression often turn to alcohol to try to feel better. Fortunately, depression and alcoholism can be treated and recovery is possible for this co-occurring disorder.

At First Steps Recovery, all co-occurring disorders are addressed at each step of the recovery process. Clients are exposed to different treatments and therapies to find the best combination for them. Personalized treatment plans are created to promote the best possible outcome in recovery. Healing from depression and alcoholism can be overwhelming at first, but with the care from First Steps Recovery, sobriety and well-being are possible. When co-occurring disorders exist, it is important to understand all disorders at hand in order to find recovery and healing.

About Depression

Depression is a common mental health disorder that is influenced by a number of different factors, such as biological, genetic, environmental, and psychosocial factors. This mental health disorder is thought to be caused by disturbances of neurotransmitter systems.

People who don’t have close interpersonal relationships, who are divorced or separated from their previous partner, or who are widowed are more likely to experience depression. Multiple early traumas can also predispose someone to depression. Those coping with depression may also experience other disorders, such as SUD, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Signs of Depression

The following are signs of depression:

  • Low or depressed mood
  • Decreased interest in previously pleasurable activities or hobbies
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Low energy
  • Poor concentration
  • Changes in appetite
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Suicidal thoughts, ideations, or tendencies

Because depression symptoms can weigh heavily on the people experiencing them, they often turn to substances to relieve themselves of their symptoms. However, depressive symptoms remain after use. As a response to the lingering depression, clients continue to use the substance, eventually developing a dependency on it.

Alcohol Use Disorder

An alcohol addiction is defined as a person’s inability to stop or control alcohol use despite social, occupational, or health-related consequences. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) can be mild, moderate, or severe.

A number of signs can point to alcoholism. These include:

  • Drinking more or longer than intended
  • Attempting to cut down on or stop drinking unsuccessfully
  • Spending lots of time drinking
  • Being sick after drinking often, or experiencing other aftereffects often
  • Being consumed by thoughts of drinking
  • Drinking is interfering with work, home, or family life
  • Experiencing harmful situations as a result
  • Avoiding other activities or responsibilities in order to drink
  • Continuing to drink even when depressive or anxiety symptoms arise
  • Blacking out often
  • Having to increase the amount one drinks to feel the same effects
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, like sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, etc.

Recovering from depression and alcoholism, however, is possible. First Steps Recovery offers a holistic approach that addresses the root of all disorders to promote full healing.

Navigating Alcoholism and Depression at First Steps Recovery

At First Steps Recovery, the whole-person approach is in full effect when healing from co-occurring disorders. Recovering from alcoholism and depression begins with an alcohol detox. First Steps Recovery offers medically supervised detoxification with 24/7 supervision.

This supervision is important in detox as clients frequently experience withdrawal symptoms. Tremors, nausea, irritability, insomnia, and hallucinations are withdrawal symptoms one may experience (among many others). Having a stable, secure place to detox is important in order to persist past these symptoms.

From there, clients are provided with personalized treatment plans that target their individual needs in recovery. Because co-occurring disorders are so complex and everyone experiences depression and alcoholism differently, having multiple options for care is crucial.

Clinical and Holistic Care For Alcoholism and Depression

First Steps Recovery’s whole-person approach is done through clinical and holistic care. Clinical care for depression and alcoholism includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of talk therapy that helps clients uncover their unproductive thoughts and behavior patterns.

For clients coping with depression and alcoholism, CBT helps them discover their thought patterns and how those unhelpful thoughts lead to destructive behaviors (for example, drinking). From there, clients begin to restructure their thoughts to be more positive and in turn begin to choose healthier behaviors.

Holistic services are also offered. Art, music, wilderness, yoga, mindfulness, and physical and recreational therapies are examples of the holistic services clients can partake in with First Steps Recovery. These services help clients connect with themselves on a deeper level, gain control over their minds and bodies, and learn healthy coping mechanisms to avoid destructive habits, such as drinking. Depression is also addressed as these activities can soon become hobbies that bring joy into clients’ lives.

At First Steps Recovery, we treat co-occurring disorders. Depression and alcoholism are examples of co-occurring disorders we treat. Clients with depression often find that their symptoms are too overwhelming, and they turn to alcohol to cope with them. However, this type of alcohol use can turn into an addiction. When treating depression and alcoholism, it is important to address all underlying factors of each disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) paired with holistic care helps clients learn about themselves on a deeper level and create healthier thinking patterns. Through CBT and other therapies, clients find new coping mechanisms that are constructive for healing. To learn more about healing from co-occurring disorders, please call us at (844) 489-0836.

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Meet Our Team

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