When we transition from active addiction to sobriety, our bodies and minds are forced to undergo a dramatic change in order to compensate for the lack of intoxicants they had grown accustomed to being present in your system. Until this rebalancing is complete, your internal processes and chemical levels will be skewed, which manifest in a variety of symptoms. One common effect this has on a person in early recovery is a tendency for depression, as your brain is learning to produce healthy levels of serotonin and dopamine without being prompted to do so by your substance of choice. Given this depression is caused by a legitimate chemical imbalance in your brain, you should consider utilizing a prescription antidepressant to get you through this patch of mental instability.
Many addicts and alcoholics in early recovery are hesitant about seeking medication assistance in their sobriety - after all, we didn’t admit defeat and seek treatment for our substance abuse only to form a dependency on a different drug! This aversion to prescription medications in early recovery is based on a misguided belief. Many of those in early recovery who suffer depression rely on a temporary course of antidepressants in order to expedite the healing processes taking place in their brains, alleviating the negative psychological symptoms until that healing has taken place. Your physician will work with you to determine a specific treatment regimen which works best for you, including a plan to taper off the medication when your brain’s natural ability to produce a balanced level of neurochemicals is restored.
Leaving a depressive episode in early recovery untreated can have a dramatic impact on your success in sobriety, diminishing and negating all the hard work you’ve done in detox and residential treatment. Depression leaves us feeling uninspired and unmotivated, meaning we are far less likely to put forth sufficient effort in working a program of recovery than is required to succeed in sobriety. Often a lack of progress in your stepwork early on could be an indicator you are suffering from some depression, as a person who has a healthy, positive mindset is excited to achieve the transformation promised by completion of the 12 steps of recovery. If you find you are feeling listless and unmotivated in your recovery program, you should speak with your sponsor and your physician about whether you are experiencing depression and could benefit from a temporary course of antidepressants.
Chemical imbalances are a part of everyone’s recovery from substance abuse, as our minds and bodies have worked to achieve homeostasis in our active addiction and must now adjust for our new normal of abstinence. For many, this transitive healing period causes us to experience symptoms of depression as our brains work to restore healthy neurochemical levels in the absence of stimulation from our substance of choice. Prescription antidepressants can help us get over this “hump” in early sobriety, ensuring we are able to achieve and maintain a positive mindset as we begin the work required to secure our newfound sobriety. Do not shy away from accepting this valuable form of aid in early recovery - it could be the difference between success and painful setback in your life in sobriety!