How Can Drinking Alcohol Worsen a Veteran’s Depression?

How Can Drinking Alcohol Worsen a Veteran's Depression?

How Can Drinking Alcohol Worsen a Veteran’s Depression?

Many veterans find it challenging to cope with past trauma from the military. The negative effects of depression can leave an individual feeling helpless if their condition is left unaddressed. Negative stigma, hurtful stereotypes from society, and gender norms all play a role in why some veterans avoid seeking professional support. Therefore, it is common for some individuals to self-medicate major depressive disorder with drugs or alcohol. Veterans, for example, sometimes choose to drink alcohol to suppress their withdrawal symptoms. Drinking alcohol only provides temporary relief and ultimately worsens one’s condition. Fortunately, many veterans find eased withdrawal symptoms after moving forward with Restoration Recovery’s medical detox program in Sacramento. 

The Link Between Drinking Alcohol and Depression

According to Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, research has indicated that military personnel may develop depression and related psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from unresolved past trauma. For example, mortuary affairs duty, training accidents, military sexual trauma (MST), and witnessing the death or combat injury of a soldier can bring one great emotional distress. Many veterans face serious challenges coping with their mental health and resort to drinking alcohol to mask the effects of depression. 

Studies have found that veterans reported abusing alcohol to specifically pacify hyperarousal symptoms. Drinking alcohol impedes recovery and often leads to poor well-being. For example, veterans who choose to frequently drink excessive amounts of alcohol are at an increased risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD). Depression and co-occurring addiction can be even more challenging to treat.

The Importance of Staying Abstinent from Drinking Alcohol

It can be hard for veterans to discontinue drinking as it may have been a normal part of their lives in the military. Military personnel frequently celebrate combat victories with others. They may gather in groups in large social settings to either commemorate a brother-in-arms, celebrate Memorial Day, memorialize a battle buddy who has passed away, or simply cope with their mental health related to military trauma. 

Therefore, it can be highly difficult for a veteran to break away from their past addictive behaviors after being discharged from the military. Many veterans feel out of place in society as those who have not served in the military experience difficulty understanding their condition. Crude misjudgment from others can often worsen a veteran’s depression. Although many factors play a role in why veterans may face difficulty moving forward from alcoholism they must discontinue drinking alcohol to gain a better quality of life. If a veteran does not stop drinking alcohol they may be at an increased risk for: 

  • Suicidal ideation, self-injurious behaviors, and death
  • Marital issues or divorce
  • Child custody problems
  • Relationship problems with family or friends
  • Reduced productivity, leading to poor work performance
  • Physical health complications
  • Reduced testosterone levels
  • Worsened alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Homelessness

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Even the most minor alcohol withdrawal symptoms can make it hard for an individual to break the cycle of alcohol addiction. Mild withdrawal symptoms include migraines, mild anxiety, problems sleeping, and gastrointestinal discomfort. The effects of alcohol withdrawal can send one down the road to auditory or visual hallucinations. These symptoms can feel very uncomfortable and, for some veterans, even frightening. 

Research indicates that severe withdrawal symptoms can lead to life-threatening complications and often require urgent intervention in a medical setting. For example, seizures can occur just a few hours after consuming an alcoholic beverage. The most severe manifestation of alcohol withdrawal syndrome is called withdrawal delirium. There is where an individual experiences: 

  • Fevers
  • Agitation
  • Tachycardia
  • Diaphoresis
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Hypertension

What Is a Detox Program?

Understanding that it can be challenging for an individual to overcome AUD, many veterans find solace after participating in a medical detox program. Medical detox is where every trace of alcohol is removed from an individual’s body. This ensures one is safely stabilized in preparation for professional treatment that targets a dual diagnosis of addiction and another co-occurring mental health disorder. An individual is evaluated and, in severe cases, medicated, while also generally receiving 24-hour support from a team of trained specialists. 

Moving Forward from Drinking Alcohol with Restoration Recovery’s Detox Program

Surrendering to professional support can feel like an overwhelming process for some veterans but can in turn change an individual’s life for the better. Professional support can provide the assistance needed to effectively move forward from addiction, making room for a healthier lifestyle with new opportunities. 

Restoration Recovery’s detox program can help veterans find relief from withdrawal symptoms before getting started with a treatment program. Our addiction and mental health facility takes one’s severity of symptoms, polysubstance use, and other medical complications into serious consideration while in our care. The benefits of participating in a medical detox program at Restoration Recovery include: 

  • Decreased risk of alcohol relapse
  • Improved mental health
  • Increased likelihood of achieving long-term recovery
  • Improved physical health
  • Increased optimism 
  • Access to resources and further support

Substance addiction and mental illness can develop at any time during a person’s life. Our team at Restoration Recovery understands that significantly reducing or suddenly stopping heavy and prolonged drug/alcohol use can cause uncomfortable and occasionally life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Our medical detox provides a secure environment to safely withdraw from uncomfortable symptoms under the supervision of trained nurses and doctors. At Restoration Recovery, dual diagnoses are treated at the same time. Integrated treatment for co-occurring substance use disorders and mental illness has been found to yield consistently superior recovery outcomes than treating each diagnosis separately. Call Restoration Recovery at (888) 290-0925 to gain the support needed to effectively overcome depression and AUD.

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