Depression, the Second Factor of Drug Addiction
It is very common for an addicted person to feel depressed when they come off the drugs or types of alcohol they had been abusing. This depression that arrives whenever they try to get sober is one of the factors that drives an addicted person back into substance abuse. Therefore, it is one aspect of addiction that must be overcome if a person is to achieve long-term recovery. There are both physical and psychological reasons for a person to experience depression when they are addicted or are trying to recover.
On the physical side, drugs and alcohol overwhelm a body's natural chemistry with powerful stimulants, sedatives or depressants. Some drugs overstimulate a body's functions like cocaine, methamphetamine or ecstasy. Others depress functions such as heart rate or breathing rate, like heroin, oxycodone and hydrocodone. Even alcohol, which seems initially to have a stimulating effect, depresses respiration when there is too much taken.
After this overwhelm has continued for a period, the body begins to lose the ability to produce its own natural chemicals that affect the body pleasurably when an enjoyable experience occurs. Sex, a good meal, a success in life, all these events produce these chemicals -- unless the body's ability to do so has been shut down.
After drugs have knocked this ability out, when a person comes off the drugs, the natural chemicals don't come into play and the result can be an inability to feel pleasure. The person coming off drugs feels like life is flat and hopeless. There may be a sense of feeling numb, mentally, emotionally and physically.
As an escape from this feeling, he or she may resort to using drugs again. She may have the sense that the only way she can feel pleasure again or enjoy any part of life would be to take drugs. The addicted person very often gives up on the hope of ever feeling joy or happiness again. Thus this factor helps trap her in her addiction.
There is another physical aspect to depression in the addicted person. As drugs and alcohol burn up vital nutrients in the body, and as an addicted person ordinarily neglects his own care and proper feeding, it is usual for him to get rundown. Those entering rehab are, more often than not, in terrible physical condition when they start their recoveries from addiction.
Those taking stimulants may not have slept in several days and they tend to lose their appetites entirely. Marijuana users may have their appetites stimulated but not for health-building foods, but rather non-nutritious snack foods. Alcoholics may stop eating or eat very poorly.
Nutritional experts have stated that nutritional depletion can contribute to depression and that depression can be improved by providing the right nutrition. Therefore, the lifestyle and the toxic effects of drugs can increase or create depression, all by themselves.
There is a third aspect to the creation of depression in the addicted person that is psychological. Normally, an addicted person has had terrible experiences in the course of getting the money for drugs, acquiring drugs and using them. He or she may have committed crimes, may have seen other people overdose and die. Addiction itself can tear families apart. Thousands of dollars may have been spent on drugs that were intended for some other, more productive purpose. There may have been fights, divorces, lost custody. Businesses and good jobs could have been lost.
Each addicted person knows that he has yielded his own personal integrity in the course of his addiction. This creates great personal pain for anyone. But the use of more drugs covers up the sense of pain and loss of integrity.
Essentially, there are good reasons for a person who has been addicted to feel depressed. If a non-addicted person experienced those events, she would probably feel depressed too. If a non-addicted person lost the ability to produce his own natural chemicals that result from successes and pleasurable events in life, he would probably feel depressed. If a person had given up hope of improvement and felt numb, they would be described as depressed.
But these are just normal qualities in an addicted person. This is not to say that they are easy to overcome. Recovery is seldom achieved in a short drug recovery program. It takes longer than a few weeks for a body to recover its ability to produce natural chemicals. It takes a thorough approach to drug recovery for a person's self-respect and personal integrity to be recovered. And it takes time for a person to rebuild relationships that have been completely destroyed by the time spent in addiction.
The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program has a drug-free, holistic approach to handling depression. Those on the Narconon program at centers located around the world have a chance to be guided through the repair of these parts of life with the result that depression no longer traps them in addiction.
Series of articles explaining drug addiction