Among the things we frequently self-medicate is depression. This is a particularly insidious condition when mixed with Alcohol.
Drinking is essentially a two stage activity. Initially there is the “buzz” which, briefly, offsets the depression. But alcohol is itself a depressant so the greater effect is to exacerbate and prolong our depression.
But it’s worse than that. Turns out that there are two pretty effective ways to combat depression: CBT and “doing stuff.”
CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – is a learned process for challenging the way we translate our thoughts into emotions. No, our emotions do not simply spring up out of nowhere like mushroom, they are actually a product of our thoughts and behaviors. That includes depression. Change you thinking process and you change your emotions and cease being a “victim” of them.
“Doing stuff” is exactly that, engaging in almost any activity – except drinking – will counteract depression. Activity and depression cannot occupy the same place in you at the same time. Of course drinking also impedes our willingness to do much of anything, but drink some more, chasing that elusive “buzz.”
By now I’m sure you see the circular trap. Drink more, get more depressed, drink more, do even less, get even more depressed, drink even more, and so on.
Happily, this cycle, like most destructive behavior patterns, can be broken and the results are fairly promptly realized.
Stop dosing yourself with massive amounts of a depressant and you will begin to feel better. Feeling better encourages us to do more stuff – to become engaged in life. That in turn causes us to feel better too.
Obviously a downward spiral can be reversed into an upward one.
That’s not as easy as I make it sound but it isn’t as difficult as your current thought patterns insist. That’s where CBT comes in and Dr. Barnes is especially good at helping you learn and internalize the processes for changing you depressing thought patterns. That’s a long term transferable skill you internalize and bring to bear on any number of situations, large and small, for the rest of your life.
For short term stabilization, Naltrexone provides effective “anti-craving” relief so you are less distracted by alcohol craving while making the changes to your day-to-day life that resolve the depression issue.
Loneliness and Boredom
Of course depression didn’t simply arrive in your life one day unannounced. Behind the depression, loneliness and boredom frequently lurk.
Again, in our lives, we tend to find mutually reinforcing conditions that either contribute to our happiness – or our despair. But like drinking, which we’re experiencing is still pretty much a choice for most of us.
The same “doing stuff” prescription that works for depression also, obviously, works for boredom and may, given some nerve, work for loneliness too.
Doing stuff allows you to meet new people and meeting new people can lead to meeting still more. The more things you do and the more people you meet the less likely you are to remain lonely. Cozied up every night with your bottle(s) of Chardonnay isn’t apt to do much for you, even if it does provide sufficient liquid courage to almost sign up for that on-line dating service.
Again, in order to combat this cluster of negativity – depression, loneliness and boredom – we suggest engaging in activities you like, used to like, think you might like. These activities also need to be incompatible with drinking, involve people who don’t know you ever had a drinking problem, and who you don’t ever want you past alcohol abuse to become known.
Obviously that is the antithesis of an AA meeting.
If you want a life devoid of negativity then you need to leave parts of your current life behind in order to make room for a real life. Yes, you will probably leave some friends and family members behind along with drinking buddies and the social activities that now provide cover for your misuse of alcohol.
Is that actually a loss?
Ass in real friends, supportive activities and people, and leaving you negative history behind is very freeing. And yes, excessive alcohol use just becomes another of those things we used to do and we have no need to apologize or defend it. Been there, done that is sufficient.
And as ex-smokers know, there is no better anti-depressant than kicking a difficult and destructive habit.
A little help, a lifetime of actually living. No more might-have-beens. Ready? Of course you are.