3 Ways to Cope With Depression After Quitting Drinking

woman coping with depression after quitting drinking

Many people develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol after using substances to self-medicate their physical or emotional pain. This is especially true in the case of people living with depression. There is a clear relationship between depression and substance abuse, and both conditions can exacerbate the other. 

Substance abuse treatment can help people overcome addiction and learn healthy ways to manage the symptoms of depression. Some of these include medications and therapy. There are also many practical ways to cope with depression after giving up alcohol. 

We will explore three of the coping skills you can use to manage your depression after giving up alcohol. If you or someone you love needs treatment or support during recovery, please reach out to the staff at Moving Mountains Recovery for more information about the programs we offer. 

1. Increase Your Support

Many people who live with depression after quitting drinking may need more professional and personal support. Overcoming addiction is hard on its own. Healing from addiction and mental illness can be even more challenging. 

Support can come in many forms. Supportive friends and family may be able to offer immediate and ongoing care. But many people also benefit from having the support of addiction specialists, counselors, and peers in recovery. Support in recovery can include:

  • Alumni networks
  • 12-step addiction support groups
  • Individual counselors
  • Sober coaches
  • Sober activities or meetups
  • Outdoor activity groups

Often, people in recovery may need to rebuild their social network and find new, supportive friends. Staying engaged in recovery and spending time doing things you love can help you manage depression after quitting drinking and thrive in your new, sober lifestyle.[1]

2. Focus on Self Care

Often, when people talk about “self-care”, we may imagine things like bubble baths and massages. While these can be part of your routine, meaningful self-care means taking care of your body and mind through regular, intentional choices. 

Self-care helps your body and mind get what they need to function their best. Practicing regular self-care can be a powerful tool in managing depression after giving up alcohol because it reinforces the idea that you are worthy of care and capable of change.

Eating Healthily

Healthy eating varies from person to person and does not mean following a strict diet. Instead, try to eat regularly. Choose to eat as many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and sources of protein as possible. Stay hydrated by drinking water, herbal tea, and other non-caffeinated beverages.

Mindfulness

Discover new ways to stay grounded in the present when depression or anxiety shows up. For some, this may include regularly practicing yoga or meditation. For others, this may be as simple as using breathing techniques or other mindfulness practices when overwhelmed. 

Movement

Exercise in recovery has been shown to reduce depression after quitting drinking. Want an even more powerful form of depression-fighting exercise? Go outside. You don’t need to run a marathon to get the benefits of outdoor exercise. A brisk walk outdoors, a hike in the woods, or even a casual stroll in your local park can be beneficial.[2] And if you’re ready for more of an adventure, try a new outdoor activity. Kayaking, rock climbing, camping–the possibilities are endless. 

Sleep

When managing depression after quitting drinking, getting enough sleep is key. Some people struggle with getting a full night’s sleep. Focus instead on practicing good “sleep hygiene”. This means avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, keeping your sleeping environment cool and dark, and avoiding screens for at least an hour before bedtime.[3]

Practicing good self-care doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Simply making intentional choices in your daily routine can help you manage your depression after giving up alcohol. 

3. Find Your Motivation

To cope with depression after quitting drinking, you must stay focused on what you are choosing–not what you are leaving behind. Make a list of things that are likely to improve after you commit to sobriety. You might think about goals you want to work towards or relationships you want to invest in. 

Ask yourself what will feel better and what you will be happy to leave in the past. Think about how it will feel to never have to worry about what you said or did while intoxicated. Imagine never waking up hungover. Focus on how you will remember special memories with your friends and family. If you have other professional or personal goals, include them on the list. 

You’ve chosen sobriety for a reason. In the early days, remembering your reasons may feel easy. The difficult parts of substance abuse–the physical, emotional, and social toll it can take–may be fresh in your mind. But as time goes on and those memories fade, some people may lose motivation to continue choosing a healthy, sober lifestyle.

One of the most important ways to manage depression after quitting drinking is to stay motivated and engaged in recovery. This may mean different things to different people. For some, it may mean finding regular support. For others, it may mean finding a new purpose for their life. 

For some people, embracing the natural world can be part of coping with depression after giving up alcohol. Hiking, kayaking, swimming, and other active ways of exploring nature can help people heal from the emotional and physical effects of prolonged substance abuse. 

Learn More About Managing Depression After Giving Up Alcohol at Moving Mountains Recovery

To learn more about treatment programs for depression and addiction offered at Moving Mountains Recovery, reach out to our staff today. 

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5047716/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6335323/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5623526/
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