Author: Samantha Colicchio


Depression After Quitting Drinking

You were so looking forward to sobriety; a new life in recovery seemed like it was finally here. But after getting sober, the feelings that had been pushed down for so long started to come to the surface. Now that you’ve finished treatment for alcoholism, you wonder why you’re feeling so sad. If you’re thinking, “I quit drinking and now I am depressed,” this article can shed some light.

What Causes Depression in Recovery?

Newfound sobriety is often met with feelings of depression. The good news? You’re not alone. In fact, even the co-founder of A.A., Bill W., struggled with depression in recovery. There are many reasons why someone in early recovery might grapple with a bout of depression. Here are a few:

  • You’re not used to feeling real emotions.  After numbing unpleasant feelings with alcohol as they bubbled up, it isn’t easy to stare these emotions in the face. Self-medicating with alcohol only acts as a Band-Aid, and once sober, that Band-Aid gets ripped off. It just takes time to learn how to better cope with and manage negative emotions.
  • Your relationships are changing. In recovery, you are doing a lot of rebuilding, and that includes your primary relationships. For instance, there may be some leftover anger and resentment that needs healing. Mostly, you are a different person in recovery and it takes time to fit that version into existing relationships.
  • You’re facing the fallout. Alcoholism exacts a heavy toll on all areas of someone’s life. While drinking, it is easy to ignore things, like paying bills on time and showing up to important appointments. In sobriety, the fallout from alcoholism comes into sharp focus, which can be pretty depressing.
  • You’re feeling boredom and loneliness. When just starting out in recovery you may struggle with feelings of loneliness and boredom. Drinking took up such a huge chunk of real estate in your life, so without it life looks quite different. You now have fewer friends, as you had to walk away from toxic people. Also, without drinking to numb reality, you may find yourself bored and restless.
  • Your brain chemistry is rebooting. Alcohol dependence causes the brain pathways to become altered. The brain became dependent on the dopamine released by daily drinking. Once sober, brain chemistry will adjust, but it takes time. In the meantime, symptoms of depression can be very common.
If you or a loved one recently quit drinking or completed a rehab treatment program and are now depressed, it is important to discuss dual diagnosis treatment options before you relapse and start drinking again. Dual diagnosis is when you suffer from addiction and mental health co-occurring. It is key to treat both conditions at the same time to create a solid relapse prevention plan. Journey Hillside is an experienced Dual Diagnosis treatment center that can help, call 877-414-1024 or fill out our contact form.

Journey Hillside facilities

The Link Between Nutrition and Depression in Recovery

A healthy diet can help immensely in the struggle against depression. Alcohol use disorder often leads to nutritional deficiencies, and it’s crucial to fill in the gaps once you get sober. Additionally, after the body has rid itself of alcohol, it undergoes various physical and chemical changes. Consequently, there’s a connection between the foods you eat, brain function, and mood. Adhering to a balanced diet with the right nutrients can influence the brain’s chemical balance positively and mitigate depression after quitting drinking.

Know the Signs and Symptoms of Depression

The symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe, with most falling somewhere in between. Depression can impair daily functioning and even disrupt all aspects of life. Become familiar with these signs and symptoms of depression:

  • Sadness, despair, hopelessness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of desire to participate in usual activities.
  • Weight loss or gain.
  • Sleep disorders.
  • Slowed motor and cognitive function.
  • Inappropriate feelings of shame or guilt.
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

When a cluster of five or more symptoms is present for more than two weeks that would indicate depression.

Anxiety, PTSD, and Trauma

Depression might not be the only thing that comes up with newfound sobriety. Sometimes, people also experience anxiety, and even symptoms of PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Think of it like this: drinking is like driving a car incredibly fast, with all your “baggage” in the backseat. Once you step on the brakes (stop drinking), all that baggage flies up to the front. By getting sober, you’re creating an environment where your psyche feels safe enough to bring up past traumas, in order to help you resolve them. That may mean a period of increased symptoms. With the right support, you can heal these past traumas, get sober, and start living a life that’s happy, joyous, and free.

Many substance abuse facilities don’t acknowledge the impact mental health can have on substance abuse. At Journey Hillside, we accept clients with primary substance abuse and secondary mental health, so you can address any co-occurring disorders in treatment.

Was the Depression There All Along?

Another way to explain why you quit drinking and now are depressed is that the depression was there first. In fact, the mental health disorder may have led to increased alcohol intake as a means of self-medicating. This means that the drinking problem arose because of the depression.

When two mental health disorders exist at the same time it is called a dual diagnosis. When in treatment for alcohol use disorder, it is crucial that the depression also be addressed and treated. If not, once sober, the depression will continue to plague you, which can threaten sobriety.

Depression, Relapse, and the Risk of Suicide

People who have co-occurring depression and alcoholism have an increased risk of suicide. In fact, SAMHSA reports that nearly one third of all suicides involved people who had blood alcohol above legal limits.

Also, half of those who completed suicide had a history of depression when they died. Alcoholism puts an individual at a ten-fold higher risk for suicide as compared to the general public. A study states that among alcoholics the lifetime risk of suicide is 10%-15%. In 85% of 100 cases of completed suicide were in people with co-occurring alcoholism and depression.

With that in mind, alcoholics who relapse could be at special risk for suicide. This is due to a sense of failure and despair that follows a relapse, plus the compound losses that resulted.

How to Manage Depression in Recovery

If you are in recovery and notice the signs of depression creeping in, do not ignore these. Continue to receive ongoing therapy to manage the depression in recovery and find things you love to do, whether it’s exercise, time with family, podcasts, or reading professional development books you can find passion and positive messaging all around you if you look. If things get serious, our depression treatment involves:

  • Medication. In most cases, antidepressants will be useful for helping to manage depression symptoms.
  • Psychotherapy. Therapy is a core treatment element for people in recovery for co-occurring disorders like depression.
  • Group support. Peer support is an essential aspect of dual diagnosis treatment. Support groups, group therapy, family therapy, or couples therapy are all helpful for managing depression.
  • Life skills. An alcohol use disorder can cause immense damage in one’s life. Life skills classes can help restore confidence by teaching resume writing and job-seeking skills.
  • Holistic therapies. If you struggle with depression in recovery, you might benefit from holistic methods. These can reduce stress and anxiety, and help you be in a calmer more relaxed state of mind. These might include art therapy, yoga, mindfulness, deep-breathing techniques, and meditation.

If you find yourself saying, “I quit drinking and now I am depressed,” you are surely not alone. This is a common experience in early recovery. With patience and time, you will begin to feel better.

Recommendations for a Balanced Diet in Recovery

That old adage, “You are what you eat,” might seem oversimplified, but it’s true. The better you eat, the better you feel. If you’re experiencing depression after quitting alcohol, these specialized dietary elements may provide you with some relief:

  • Proteins: Incorporate lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, fish, and tofu. These and other proteins rich in amino acids are essential for neurotransmitter production.
  • Complex Carbohydrates: Foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help stabilize blood sugar levels, impacting mood regulation.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These special fatty acids are found in fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds and can potentially decrease symptoms of depression after stopping alcohol consumption.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Ensure your diet has a mix of essential vitamins, especially B vitamins. B vitamins play a pivotal role in mood regulation and can be a major player in lifting depression after quitting drinking.
  • Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can negatively affect mood and cognition. Drinking sufficient water is crucial in feeling your best.

Building New Hobbies and Interests

With the void that quitting alcohol might create, it’s essential to find new passions. Engaging in new hobbies can not only act as a distraction but also provide a sense of purpose and achievement. If you have an artistic bent, consider painting, sketching, pottery, learning a new instrument, singing, keeping a journal, or writing stories can provide an outlet for emotions. If you find being in nature therapeutic, consider gardening or hiking. Athletic activities like biking, running, or joining a local sports league are also excellent for mood and stress regulation.

Journey Hillside’s Approach to Co-Occurring Disorders

At Journey Hillside, we recognize the intricate relationship between alcohol dependence and depression. That is why we make every effort to prepare our clients with the best defense strategies in order to avoid depression after sobriety.  Our tailored dual diagnosis treatment programs are designed to address both these challenges concurrently, ensuring a comprehensive recovery path. Our staff of caring and experienced professionals is trained to provide the necessary therapeutic and medical support for individuals grappling with depression after quitting drinking.

We believe in a holistic approach, combining therapy, medical intervention, nutrition, physical activity, and community support, ensuring that our clients are not just sober, but mentally and emotionally resilient. Trust Journey Hillside to guide you or your loved one through this dual journey to a balanced and fulfilling life. Reach out today to learn more.

Journey Hillside Offers Comprehensive Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder & Depression

tarzana rehab center

Journey Hillside provides premier addiction treatment services for those who are ready to give up alcohol. For those who quit drinking and now are depressed, looking at treatment options to maintain long term sobriety is key. For more info, please call us today at (877) 414-1024.

seizures and alcohol intoxication

What Does An Alcoholic Seizure Look Like?

The dangers of seizures and alcohol intoxication are very real. Learn about alcohol poisoning and the risk of seizures.

When it comes to the health risks posed by substances of abuse, the dangers of alcohol abuse are very high. Binge drinking can be life-threatening, and at the very least can cause seizures to occur.

Someone with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) who wishes to stop drinking faces the risk of seizures during detox. Seizures during detox can foretell the DTs, which can be fatal. This explains why alcohol detox must be so closely monitored.

Read on to learn about the risks of heavy drinking and the link between seizures and alcohol intoxication and detox.

What Are Seizures?

A seizure is a neural event during which the electrical system in the brain is disrupted. The seizure can last a few seconds up to several minutes, depending on the type of the seizure. The type of seizures most common among people who have abused alcohol is the grand mal or tonic-clonic nonfocal seizures.

These types of seizures occur in two phases:

Tonic phase. This is when the person loses consciousness and falls down. It only lasts about 15 seconds.

Clonic phase. Convulsions occur, during which the muscles begin contracting rhythmically. This phase lasts two minutes or less.

Symptoms of a grand mal seizure might include:

  • Scream upon the onset of the seizure.
  • Severe headache.
  • Confusion
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control.
  • Being unresponsive after the convulsions.

The exact cause of seizures is still not known. Science has taught us that the brain’s nerve cells sync up in an unusual manner during a seizure. This causes the electrical system to become altered and for the nerve cells to all fire at once.

Can You Have Seizures While Drinking Alcohol?

It is not common to have a seizure when drinking a moderate amount of alcohol. Unless the person has epilepsy, low or moderate alcohol intake is not going to trigger a seizure. Alcohol-related seizures do occur when someone drinks excessively, as in binge drinking. Also, a person with a history of heavy drinking who attempts to stop cold turkey can also have seizures.

Binge Drinking and Seizures

Binge drinking is defined as consuming 5 or more alcoholic drinks within a short time frame. When someone drinks this much, their system becomes overwhelmed. This occurs because the liver can only process so much alcohol in an hour. What results is alcohol poisoning, when the toxins build up in the bloodstream.

One of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning is having a seizure. The seizure can cause the person to collapse and go unconscious for a short time. This can happen suddenly and may lead to a serious injury, such as hitting the head against a hard surface.

Alcohol Withdrawal and Seizures

Seizures are mostly linked with the alcohol detox and withdrawal process. During detox, the body expels the remnants of the alcohol from the bloodstream and tissues over a period of about a week. Seizures can occur during the peak phase or on day 3 of the detox process.

Having a seizure during detox is a warning sign for the possible onset of the DTs. The DTs are seen as a serious health emergency that requires medical intervention. During the DTs, the most common symptoms include:

  • Severe confusion
  • Seizures
  • Profuse shaking
  • Fever
  • Psychosis
  • High blood pressure

The DTs are most common among those who have been heavy drinkers for a long time. While it only occurs in about 5% of individuals going through detox, 5 – 15 % will die from it.

Safe Alcohol Detox

Because what happens during detox is hard to predict, it is always wise to stop drinking only with medical support. Medical detox offers a team of trained detox experts that will closely observe the withdrawal symptoms. If signs are pointing to severe symptom response, there will be 24-hour support.

While it is not possible to predict seizures during detox, the detox team will be aware of risk factors ahead of time. Risk factors include such things as the number of detoxes in the past, health history, and severity of the alcoholism.

During the alcohol detox, the team will provide the person with meds and mental health support throughout. These interventions can greatly reduce the risk of severe symptoms, and also help the person finish the entire detox process.

Treatment for AUD

To overcome an AUD, it is critical to follow up detox with a full-spectrum rehab program. An effective program will employ a wide array of treatment techniques. These are designed to work together to help the person change disordered behaviors and transition to a new sober lifestyle. Treatment includes:

Evidence-based therapies: These are therapies that have been studied and shown to be effective in treating AUD. These therapies assist the person to change their response to triggers by guiding them to a shift in thought patterns. CBT and DBT are examples of these techniques.

Group therapy. Peer group sessions offer added support and are a core element in rehab. These sessions provide a supportive space where they can share their stories, their fears, and their hopes.

Coping Skills. Learning about how addiction happens can help the person avoid relapse, so a relapse prevention plan is made. New coping skills are taught, which equip the person with the needed tools to help them carry out their plan.

Holistic activities. Learning some techniques to better manage stress in recovery include mindfulness, yoga, deep breathing, exercise, and art therapy.

The danger of seizures with severe alcohol intoxication is real. If you have a problem with alcohol, reach out to the addiction experts for help.

Journey Hillside Provides Safe Detox and Treatment for Alcoholism

Journey Hillside is an upscale treatment center that helps people safely detox the body from alcohol. Using evidence-based treatments and holistic methods, Journey Hillside can guide you toward a fresh new start in life. For questions about our program, please give us a call at (877) 414-1024.

Crippling alcoholism

What Is Crippling Alcoholism?

If you or a loved one suffer from a severe alcohol use disorder, it is crucial to get help for the crippling alcoholism as soon as possible.

For half a century, alcoholism has been defined as a disease. As a disease that impacts the brain, alcoholism sets in motion a cycle of dependence that keeps a person trapped. The compulsive drinking leads to a slew of health problems and mental health issues.

When you or someone you love suffers from severe alcoholism, life can be turned upside down. The adverse effects caused by the disease can lead to job loss, divorce, money problems, and the list goes on. If it is someone you care about who is battling alcoholism, you are probably beside yourself with worry. If it is you who suffers from the disease, then your loved ones are just as worried about your wellbeing.

It is never too late to get help for an alcohol problem, but the sooner you reach out for support, the better the recovery outcome. Read on to learn what to do when you or someone you love is struggling with crippling alcoholism.

reddit crippling alcoholismAbout the Disease of Alcoholism

When someone has an alcohol use disorder (AUD) they will begin to display certain behavior patterns. The telltale signs of an AUD include:

  • Unable to limit or quit drinking.
  • Drinking over a longer period than they intend.
  • Needing to consume ever-higher amounts to have the effects they desire.
  • Spending a great deal of time drinking or getting over the effects of drinking.
  • Neglect family or work obligations.
  • Use alcohol to help manage a mental health issue.
  • Bloating, glassy eyes, red face.
  • Hand tremors.
  • Lying about how much alcohol is being consumed.
  • Hiding alcohol.
  • Having withdrawal symptoms when the alcohol wears off.

The more of these signs that are present, the more severe the AUD is.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol dependency and showing signs of alcohol withdrawal, please call our team for guidance and help at 877-414-1024. Due to the dangers of an alcohol withdrawal seizure, it is important to get help as soon as possible.

When Should You Get Help?

So often people say, “They have to reach their bottom before they will accept help.” This is dangerous, as the bottom can be death itself. Bottoms come and bottoms go. It is a mistake to stand by and watch someone’s life implode while waiting for them—or yourself—to hit bottom.

The alcoholic suffers daily. Each day brings its own set of problems related to AUD. Losing a job, a spouse, your home, your health, your mental health—all of these are part of “the bottom.” Alcoholism can seduce a person into a life of misery. Slowly but surely, the adverse effects of the AUD will pile up. Do not wait for that bottom before seeking help for alcoholism, because it may be too late.

Signs of Severe Alcoholism

End stage alcoholism, or severe alcohol use disorder, is diagnosed when both psychological and physical dependence has taken root.

Symptoms that the alcoholism has progressed to a severe phase include:

  • Malnutrition
  • Hand tremors.
  • Bloating of the face and neck.
  • Broken capillaries on the face.
  • Distended abdomen.
  • Cognitive impairment.
  • Emotional instability.
  • Heart problems.
  • Depression and/or anxiety.
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, caused by thiamine deficiency.

This stage features adverse health effects caused by the disease, possibly including:

  • Liver disease. Alcohol is very toxic to the liver. Liver disease may not show signs until the later stages. This happens with cirrhosis. It often begins as fatty liver disease. Without a liver transplant, it is a fatal condition;
  • Cardiac symptoms. Long-term heavy drinking takes a toll on heart health. Signs of a cardiac problem include heart arrhythmia or alcoholic cardiomyopathy. These can result in organ damage or heart failure.
  • Cognitive problems. Excess drinking can lead to brain damage, which first shows up as cognitive problems. Memory issues are another sign. Also, thiamine (B1) deficiency can lead to brain damage.
  • Gastrointestinal problems. Heavy drinking causes excess stomach acid. Acid reflux can lead to gastritis. It also causes ulcers or bleeding in the stomach lining. The loss of blood can lead to anemia, causing extreme fatigue.
  • Cancer symptoms. Excess drinking causes an increased risk of many types of deadly cancer. Types of cancer linked with heavy drinking include oral, throat, esophageal, colon, rectal, pancreatic, liver, and breast cancer.

Getting Help for Severe Alcoholism

Getting yourself or a loved one into detox and treatment will truly be lifesaving. There are several ways you can prepare for treatment:

  1. Do some research. Before seeking help, it is best to do some study on alcoholism and treatment options. This will help you be well prepared when you or a loved one is ready to receive treatment.
  2. Ask for support. Rehab programs often include a family piece, such as family therapy sessions and family days. Family sessions allow members to have open and honest discourse that can help heal deep wounds. Ask family members to participate in the healing process.
  3. Contact insurance. Having the resources for treatment is key. First contact the insurance company to see what is covered under the plan. They will provide the details for out of pocket expenses and network providers. Also, ask the rehab if they offer sliding scale programs or scholarships. They may also offer in-house financing plans to help stretch the cost out over time.
  4. Plan the logistics.  Someone facing treatment will worry about being away from home and working for a long period. These logistics should be addressed early on to ease anxiety about how it will all work. Check with H.R. about how to file for a leave of absence. Has childcare planned out if there are children involved who will need care in the absence of a parent? Prepare your finances ahead of time so bills will be paid while in rehab.

Seeking out expert treatment and support for severe alcoholism can truly turn someone’s life around. Reach out for help today to begin the journey toward renewed wellness.

Journey Hillside Provides Treatment and Help for Crippling Alcoholism

Journey Hillside is a private treatment center that offers on-site detox and full rehab services. This high-end, evidence-based program provides the healing space for someone in recovery from alcoholism. For more detail about the program, please contact us today at (877) 414-1024.

need to stop drinking alcohol

Excessive drinking can wreak havoc on your life. Learn 5 reasons why you need to stop drinking alcohol now.

How many times have you kicked yourself after indulging in a night of heavy drinking?  You may feel so awful you question whether you are hungover or have alcohol poisoning. Chances are if it’s morning and you are still alert you will be fine. What you are feeling are just the nasty effects of a hard night of binge drinking.

When this happens only now and then it may not point to a larger problem. But when you find yourself having hangovers regularly, then that is a sign that you need to stop drinking alcohol. In other words, it means you have a drinking problem.

The reasons to give up alcohol are many. Alcohol has a toxic effect on your health, your mind, your relationships, your job, and your finances. Keep reading to learn the signs that it’s time to stop drinking alcohol.

What is Heavy Drinking?

When chronic alcohol abuse begins to cause negative consequences or impairment it is considered an alcohol use disorder (AUD). According to the NIAAA, about 15 million U.S. adults battle an alcohol problem in a given year.

So, how is “heavy drinking” defined? The CDC offers a handy set of guidelines that can help people know when they are drinking within safe limits, or not. The CDC defines a “drink” as a12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of spirits or liquor, or 8 ounces of malt liquor.

The CDC guidelines include:

  • Moderate drinking is defined as 2 drinks per day for men; 1 drink per day for women.
  • Heavy drinking is defined as 15 drinks or more per week for men; 8 drinks per week for women.
  • Binge drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks in a single session for men; 4 or more drinks in a single session for women.

The NCADD has created an online questionnaire based on the question, “Do I have an alcohol problem?” It provides this list of questions based on the common signs of AUD.

Signs of AUD Include:

  1. Do you avoid friends and family while drinking, preferring to drink alone?
  2. Do you consume higher quantities of alcohol as time goes on?
  3. Do you drink in response to stress, sadness, anger, or disappointment?
  4. Do you have hand tremors in the morning?
  5. Do you not remember things you said or did the night before?
  6. Do you experience financial, legal, career, or family problems due to your drinking?
  7. Has your doctor advised you to cut down on alcohol?
  8. Do you lie about how much alcohol you drink?
  9. Are you preoccupied during the day with drinking or do you crave alcohol?
  10. Do you get drunk several days in a row?

Depending on how many of the questions you answered “yes”, the AUD is classified as mild, moderate, or severe.

Signs You Have a Drinking Problem

When alcoholism takes root, there are notable effects that include physical signs, behavioral signs, and psychological signs.

Behavioral Signs of Alcoholism:

  • Neglects obligations.
  • The decline in work performance.
  • A DUI arrest.
  • Irritability
  • Avoids friends and family.
  • Money problems.
  • Lying about drinking.
  • Drinking alone.

Psychological Signs of Alcoholism:

  • Mood swings.
  • Obsessed with drinking.
  • Trouble in relationships.
  • Symptoms of depression.
  • Symptoms of anxiety.

Physical Signs of Alcoholism:

  • Nausea and vomiting in the morning.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Having blackouts.
  • Bloating
  • Shaking, tremors.
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Increased cravings.
  • Neglects hygiene.
  • Withdrawal symptoms emerge when the alcohol wears off.

5 Reasons to Stop Drinking Alcohol Today

As the drinking problem escalates, so do the effects on your life. Here are 5 good reasons to quit drinking:

  1. Alcohol is toxic to your health. Alcohol can have serious effects on your health. It can cause nutritional deficiencies, like thiamine, that lead to health problems. Alcohol also causes long-term illness, including liver disease, heart disease, cancer, and brain damage.
  2. Alcohol harms mental health. Alcohol can lead to a co-occurring mental health disorder. Depression is very common in alcoholics, as is anxiety.
  3. Alcohol hurts your career. Missing work often due to hangovers can lead to reduced productivity on the job. Poor performance at work can result in loss of your job and major money problems.
  4. Alcohol is bad for relationships. A drinking problem can lead to strife in relationships. This happens because drinking takes priority over relationships.
  5. Alcohol can cause harm to others. Alcohol tends to cause tempers to flare and angry outbursts. This can result in violence and physical harm to others.

Benefits of Getting Sober

Within weeks of quitting alcohol, a whole host of positive changes will emerge. These effects are even more enhanced when your new sober lifestyle includes a healthy diet and regular exercise. Some of the benefits of getting sober include:

  • You will lose weight
  • You will think more clearly
  • You will have more energy
  • You will sleep better
  • You will be in a better mood
  • You will save money
  • You will be healthier

How to Safely Stop Drinking Alcohol

When it comes to giving up alcohol, it is critical that you do so in a safe way. Quitting cold turkey can be quite risky for some people and should be avoided. Instead, a team of medically trained providers will oversee your alcohol detox to help you if any problems should occur.

During the alcohol detox, your withdrawal symptoms will be carefully observed and managed. Medications are offered to help reduce the discomforts caused by the symptoms. The detox experts will guide you safely through the process and into the treatment phase of recovery.

The consequences of an AUD can pile up quickly. When you know without a doubt that you need to stop drinking alcohol, it is time to take that first step. Get the help you need and deserve today.

Journey Hillside Provides Effective Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Journey Hillside uses the most current evidence-based treatment methods for guiding clients toward a new life in recovery. Medical detox is the first step toward freedom from an AUD. Contact our team today at (877) 414-1024 to learn more about the program.

Self Medicating With Alcohol

Is Self Medicating a Form of Addiction?

When you suffer from depression or anxiety and end up self-medicating with alcohol, it only makes things worse.

For someone struggling with a mental health issue, alcohol can feel like a godsend. The numbing effects of drinking offer a cheap, accessible means of masking the symptoms of a mental health disorder. This is referred to as self-medicating, and it is very common.

It isn’t hard to see why someone might resort to a substance like alcohol to help them numb their pain. But this coping technique can backfire—badly. Too many people don’t think about the longer-term fallout from drinking and can end up with a serious problem.

If alcoholism takes root, the person not only suffers from the mood disorder but also a co-occurring alcohol use disorder (AUD), too. This is called a dual diagnosis. This only complicates the picture, as now both disorders will have their own set of challenges to overcome.

When someone develops a dual diagnosis they will need specialized treatment that will address and treat both disorders. A dual diagnosis rehab can provide this level of care. These programs help the person learn how to manage the symptoms of both mental health and substance use disorders.

Why Self-Medicating with Alcohol is Risky

When we find ourselves in emotional pain, it is logical we’d want to find some way to soften the anguish. We look for a way out, an escape hatch—anything but to feel the misery we are in. Enter alcohol.

Alcohol has sedating effects. When we drink alcohol we become more relaxed and less inhibited. We might feel a little more self-confident and jolly. It is easy to see why someone in pain might access the help of alcohol to get through a low patch.

The world has had plenty of low patches to get through these past 18 months. The fallout from the pandemic affected many aspects of life, so alcohol use has increased in response. Anxiety and depression rates are on the rise in direct proportion to alcohol sales.

But, the brain’s reward system is powerful. Once the brain records a certain action as pleasant, it sets us up to repeat the event. Ongoing use of alcohol to self-medicate can lead to an alcohol problem, which can result in alcoholism.

One study examined survey results of 34,0000 U.S. adults who were questioned about their use of substances for self-medication. The results confirmed the fact that using substances to mask negative emotions can increase the risk of addiction. The study showed that more than 12% of respondents with anxiety that self-medicated with alcohol develop an AUD.

Using Alcohol for Self-Medicating Depression

People who struggle with depression are quite prone to alcohol abuse. The symptoms of depression include feeling sad and hopeless, fatigue, sleep problems, loss of interest, and suicidal thoughts. Alcoholism and depression are very common dual diagnosis.

Someone hoping to hide from their emotional pain via alcohol may find some temporary relief. The danger is when using alcohol in an ongoing manner, which can increase the risk of alcoholism. When someone has these co-occurring disorders, the risk of suicide is greatly increased.

self medicating anxiety with alcohol

Using Alcohol for Anxiety

This busy, fast-paced life we lead can leave us feeling anxious or stressed out. Symptoms of anxiety can include a sense of fear or dread, a racing heart, chest tightness, shallow breathing, trembling, and sweating. Being in this mood state can be exhausting and draining.

Turning to alcohol to manage the effects of anxiety is all too common. Sadly, though, drinking only makes the feelings of anxiety worse. This is due to a boomerang effect. That means that when the calming effects of the alcohol wear off, the anxiety seems to be more enhanced.

Using Alcohol for Depression

A mental health challenge can be crippling. It requires expert support, just like any other health problem would. Instead of using alcohol to subdue negative mood states, there is a better way to get relief. When you seek out the help of a mental health provider, they can offer therapy and medications to manage symptoms.

Therapy will be tailored to the exact nature of your mental health issue. For instance, if your anxiety is due to trauma, they will use prolonged exposure therapy, CBT, or EMDR. If you suffer from depression, CBT, DBT, and interpersonal therapy may be applied. Drugs can also help with symptom relief. SSRIs, for one, can help both depression and anxiety.

Healthy Ways to Manage Negative Mood States

There are also many things you can do to enhance the effects of mental health treatment. Most of these involve making changes in lifestyle habits, and can really help improve your mood state without alcohol.

Try building these healthy new habits:

  1. Practice Mindfulness. Being mindful of our state of mind, without letting it control us, allows us to focus on the present moment. Mindfulness helps us pay heed to the senses; the things we see, smell, taste, hear and feel. This keeps us from having our thoughts distract us from a calm state of being.
  2. Improve Your Sleep. Nothing makes us feel grumpy like a bad night’s sleep! Improve your mood, focus, and energy by getting better sleep. Try sticking to the same bedtime each day to help set your body clock. Have some chamomile tea and a warm bath and enjoy your slumber.
  3. Get Outdoors. One of the best things you can do for your mood is just go outside. Fresh air and sunshine will quickly bring a smile to your face. Vitamin D is produced through sun exposure, which can ward off depression.
  4. Set Fitness Goals. A great way to decrease anxiety and depression is through regular exercise. By setting some fitness goals you divert your thoughts toward something that is good for you. Whether you prefer rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, or running, just set a goal and work on achieving it.

You do not have to resort to self-medicating with alcohol when you are feeling low or stressed out. Learn how to take care of your mental wellness in healthy ways.

Journey Hillside is a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center

If you or a loved one has been self-medicating with alcohol, Journey Hillside is here to help. Our team of experts can help you overcome an AUD and learn how to create a healthy lifestyle. Contact Journey Hillside today at (877) 414-1024

Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures

Can Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Seizures?

When someone takes that first brave step toward sobriety, it’s a cause for celebration. After all, each year more than 88,000 deaths are attributed to alcohol use disorder (AUD). There is a great risk, however, if you attempt to stop drinking cold turkey on your own.

Alcohol seizures are serious, so detox should never be attempted without medical support. How a person’s alcohol detox will progress is often hard to predict. Some people start the detox process and are doing just fine. But then, on day 3 or 4, sudden severe withdrawal symptoms might emerge.

Seizures are a rare but serious complication that occurs during alcohol detox. They can happen as early as day 2 during detox, while delirium tremens (DTs) can appear on days 3-4.  The DTs occur in about 5% of those who begin an alcohol detox. During the DTs, the person has a high risk of having alcohol withdrawal seizures.

There are some factors that can cause symptoms to be more severe in some people:

  • How long the heavy drinking has lasted.
  • How much is consumed daily.
  • The person’s age.
  • The person’s health status.
  • If there is a co-occurring mental health issue.
  • If the person has a history of alcohol detox attempts.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms and you are worried about a potential seizure, call our Team at Journey Hillside now for immediate help. We offer a confidential helpline at 877-414-1024 to guide you to the safest steps to take when in this situation. Or fill out our contact form.
Journey Hillside facilities

These factors can help a detox team predict the timeline and severity of the detox process. Still, the DTs can come on without notice, and it’s hard to predict who will experience them. This is why it is always advised that the detox process be supervised.

What Happens When You Stop Drinking?

addiction rehab tarzana

After a long history of heavy alcohol intake, the brain pathways have become altered. When this has taken place, and then you suspend drinking to enter recovery, the body will react. Withdrawal symptoms begin to show up within hours of cessation.

As the brain begins to react to the sudden lack of alcohol in the system, the symptoms become more intense. This is a sign that the body is trying to adjust to the absence of alcohol. The longer the person’s history of problem drinking, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms will be.

When you begin detox you will be under the care of a trained support team. These detox experts will keep a close eye on your vital signs and observe the symptoms as they emerge. They will provide medical support throughout the detox process, and be on the lookout for alcohol withdrawal seizures and other withdrawal warning signs.

What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures?

When someone has severe AUD, their drinking has caused the central nervous system to slow down as the brain produces more GABA. When he or she stops drinking, the nervous system becomes destabilized.

When someone enters alcohol detox they are often given benzos to reduce the chances of seizures. These drugs act to slow down the central nervous system and are very helpful during detox.

About 10% of people in alcohol detox will have seizures. Seizures, while scary on their own, can also be a warning sign of the DTs. Someone who does have a seizure during detox will likely be transferred to a hospital setting, as seizures tend to repeat. That way, if it does progress to the DTs they will receive proper medical treatment.

Risk Factors for Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures

Having an alcohol withdrawal seizure is a possible outcome for anyone undergoing alcohol detox without the proper medical supervision. Certain risk factors heighten this possibility, including:

Prolonged and Heavy Drinking: The longer and more heavily someone has consumed alcohol, the greater the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures.

Previous Withdrawal Episodes: Individuals who have experienced withdrawal symptoms in past detox attempts are at an increased risk.

Concurrent Medical Conditions: Existing health issues, especially related to the liver or neurological conditions, can intensify withdrawal symptoms.

Use of Other Drugs: Concurrent use of other substances can exacerbate withdrawal and increase seizure risks.

Age: Older adults may have a heightened vulnerability to alcohol withdrawal seizures due to age-related physiological changes.

Because of the potential symptoms, tailored detox plans and vigilant monitoring are essential to avoid life-threatening seizures from alcohol withdrawal.

Understanding Delirium Tremens aka DTs

The DTs are a very serious health emergency that can emerge during alcohol detox rather suddenly. The DTs are most common among those who have been heavy drinkers for a long time. Of those who have the DTs, up to 15% will not survive.

The DTs may present at or around the third day of detox. However, in some cases, detox may be winding down when on day seven the sudden symptoms of the DTs commence!

Symptoms of the DTs include:

  • Uncontrollable tremors and shaking.
  • Fever
  • Severe mental confusion.
  • Paranoia
  • High blood pressure.
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Extreme anxiety.
  • A sense that insects are crawling under the skin.
  • Seizures
  • Heart failure.

Treatment for the DTs may mean a hospital stay in order to stabilize the person and improve the outcome. Treatment will involve IV sedative infusions and hydration. This can provide quick relief and stabilization until symptoms subside.

The Kindling Effect: A Growing Concern in Alcohol Detox

The Kindling Effect refers to the phenomenon where each successive withdrawal from alcohol becomes more severe than the previous one, even if the alcohol consumption levels remain consistent. This is because the brain becomes more sensitive to the effects of alcohol withdrawal over time. For individuals with a history of multiple detox attempts, this can result in increasingly intense and dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including a higher risk of having an alcohol withdrawal seizure. At Journey Hillside, we’re acutely aware of the Kindling Effect and tailor our detox protocols to ensure the safety and well-being of those in our care.

Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol detox proceeds through three stages:

Stage One: Symptoms emerge. Early symptoms during the first 24 hours of detox include:

  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Increased heart rate.

Stage Two: Symptoms peak. During days 2-4, the symptoms will peak, including:

  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Increased nausea
  • Cold sweats
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations or psychosis
  • Fuzzy thinking,
  • Alcohol withdrawal seizures.

This is the phase of withdrawal when the DTs can occur.

Stage Three: Symptoms subside. On days 4-7, the symptoms begin to subside. In those with more severe AUD, there may be psychological effects that linger, such as anxiety or depression, fatigue, and insomnia for a few more weeks.

Risks of Unsupervised Detoxification

Detoxifying from alcohol without professional supervision poses a significant threat to the individual’s safety. While the idea of “going cold turkey” at home might seem courageous or cost-effective, the dangers are immense. Here are some potential consequences of going about detox on your own.

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms: Without medical professionals, one might underestimate the severity of their withdrawal symptoms. These can range from nausea and sweating in the initial stages to more serious complications like seizures and delirium tremens in later stages.

Lack of Medication Management: Detox facilities often use specific medications to ease the withdrawal process, reduce cravings, and manage potential complications. At home, one might not have access to these life-saving drugs or might misuse them without proper guidance.

Mental Health Risks: Alcohol withdrawal can take a toll on one’s mental health, leading to anxiety, severe mood swings, and even suicidal thoughts. Without immediate professional intervention, these symptoms can become life-threatening.

Physical Dangers: In addition to seizures, unsupervised detox can lead to dehydration, heart irregularities, and other severe health complications. In a detox facility, staff can swiftly act at the first sign of these symptoms and take preventative action in the event an individual may be on the verge of having an alcohol withdrawal seizure.

Risk of Relapse: The initial stages of withdrawal can be so uncomfortable that many might be tempted to drink again just to alleviate the symptoms. This risk of relapse is higher without the supportive environment of a detox center.

Lack of Support System: Emotional and psychological support is crucial during detox. Professionals in a detox facility not only provide medical support but also offer counseling and psychological help. At home, one might feel isolated and overwhelmed, leading to a higher risk of complications.

The Importance of Professional Help

Medical supervision and therapeutic support serve as vital lifelines during the detoxification process. Expertise ensures that withdrawal symptoms are managed appropriately, decreasing potential health risks. Additionally, therapists and counselors provide essential emotional and psychological support, helping individuals navigate the complex emotions and mental hurdles associated with breaking free from addiction. Their guidance is instrumental in crafting coping strategies, building resilience, and preparing for life post-detox.

Furthermore, being in a professional setting offers a structured environment free from triggers and temptations, ensuring a safer and more effective detox journey. Simply put, seeking professional help not only enhances the chances of successful recovery, but also prioritizes the individual’s overall long-term well-being.

What Happens After Alcohol Detox?

Detox is only the first step in the recovery journey. Detox is required in order to allow the person to fully engage in treatment in a sober state. Detox does not prevent someone from going back to drinking. To stop drinking they must engage in a treatment program.

Treatment programs for AUD involve a multi-track approach that includes:

Therapy. In order to make lasting changes and avoid drinking again, you must change your thought patterns. While in rehab you will be learning new ways to process your thoughts and how you respond to triggers.

12-Step Program. A.A.’s 12-step program themes provide a structured approach to recovery.

Education. Learning new coping techniques and life skills helps people in recovery improve their chances for a sustained result.

Holistic. Learning how to manage stress through techniques like mindfulness and yoga can be useful during and after treatment.

To launch your new sober life you must complete the detox step. Just know that you will be well cared for during the process, and symptoms will be managed. Soon, a new life in recovery will be yours to enjoy.

Embracing a Comprehensive Treatment Approach at Journey Hillside

Alcohol withdrawal and seizures are not to be taken lightly – ever. This potentially fatal symptom from withdrawal should be all the proof you need to attend supervised detox.

At Journey Hillside, we firmly believe that the path to lasting sobriety extends beyond mere detoxification. It’s about embracing a holistic treatment plan that focuses not just on the physical but also on the emotional, psychological, and social facets of addiction.

With this in mind, our multidisciplinary team crafts personalized treatment plans that include therapy sessions, educational modules, and holistic interventions such as mindfulness practices and yoga. This ensures that individuals not only overcome their dependence on alcohol but also acquire the tools and insights to rebuild their lives with resilience and purpose.

By nurturing the mind, body, and spirit in tandem, Journey Hillside ensures that every individual in our care is equipped to navigate the challenges of recovery. Reach out to us today and learn how much can change with a simple phone call.

Journey Hillside Provides On-Site Alcohol Detox Support

Residential Treatment

Journey Hillside is an upscale treatment center that helps people with AUD to enjoy a fresh start in life. For questions about our alcohol detox program, please give us a call on our confidential helpline at (877) 414-1024.

Urgent Help for Alcoholic

How To Help An Alcoholic

Learning how to find urgent help for alcoholic for a loved one, or yourself, when alcohol use disorder spins out of control.

It is painful to watch someone you love being damaged by a drinking problem. Alcoholism can truly destroy every single thing a person holds dear.

Alcohol use disorders (AUD) impact about 15 million people in the U.S. Alcoholism is a progressive disease of the brain. Heavy drinking is very toxic to the body and brain and is linked to many health problems.

When the disease has progressed to a severe stage it is crucial that the person receive treatment. Learn more about AUD and how to overcome the disease and live a full and joyful life.

Signs of Alcoholism

An alcohol use disorder often sneaks up over time, little by little. As tolerance to alcohol is increased, so does the amount the person will consume. Those who struggle with a drinking problem will at some point show signs and symptoms that are hard to hide.

Learning to notice the signs of an alcohol problem can help you get urgent help for alcoholic and treatment in a timely manner. These symptoms include:

  • Not being able to control the drinking.
  • Feeling sick in the mornings.
  • Alcohol cravings.
  • Not being able to stop drinking even when you want to.
  • Failing to fulfill responsibilities at work or home.
  • Increased tolerance.
  • Hand tremors when not drinking.
  • Lying about how much you drink.
  • Loss of interest in usual activities.
  • Blacking out.
  • Hiding alcohol around the house.
  • Continue drinking even though it causes so many problems.
  • Engaging in high-risk behaviors while drinking, getting a DUI.
  • Having withdrawal symptoms when the effects wear off.

The number of symptoms that are present can help gauge how severe the AUD is. Also, keep in mind that he or she may be struggling with a co-occurring mental health issue.

alcoholics help

Tips for Getting a Loved One into Treatment for Alcoholism

Trying to convince an alcoholic that they need help can feel like hitting your head against a brick wall. Many people with AUD are in total denial about their drinking problem. It can be quite a challenge to break through the wall of resistance and usher them toward treatment. Don’t give up.

There are some things you can do to prepare for when that hopeful day does arrive that they are open to seeking help and find urgent help for alcoholic:

Check insurance coverage.

Each healthcare plan is unique. Because of this, it is important to contact the provider to get the details about what the plan covers. This allows you to plan the out-of-pocket expense of treatment. Also, many rehabs offer in-house credit options to help with those out-of-pocket expenses.

Learn about the disease.

Before any attempt to get a loved one into treatment is taken you must know what you are dealing with. Get some solid information about the disease, detox, treatment, and recovery. Research the types of rehabs and levels of care.

Plan for rehab.

The family needs to come together as a solid source of support for the loved one. Start making some very basic plans about the logistics of rehab. These might include whether travel is a factor, getting money affairs in order, planning for childcare, and family support.

Suggest a physical exam.

An AUD can take a serious toll on a person’s health. Ask your loved one to consider getting an exam. This can help pave the way for the loved one’s health needs in recovery. The blood test results may prompt the doctor to advise they to enter rehab, reinforcing your own request.

Have a calm chat.

Find a quiet moment to sit down with the loved one to calmly discuss rehab options. Share the things you have learned about AUD and help put their mind at ease. Explain that the detox will be helped by meds that help ease the symptoms. Suggest they meet with their HR department to arrange a leave of absence if they will need inpatient care.

Plan an intervention.

Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you are not able to convince the loved one that they need treatment. An intervention might be helpful in this regard. It is a meeting between the alcoholic and their close family members, spouse, or friends. An expert will plan the intervention and guide the family members through the meeting.

What to Expect in Alcohol Detox

When your loved one agrees to get help and find urgent help for alcoholic, the first hurdle he or she will cross is the detox process. Detox will allow the remnants of the alcohol toxins to be purged from the body. During the process, the person will feel ill, as the body tries to adjust to the absence of alcohol.

The alcohol detox timeline lasts about one week. This is the amount of time it takes for the last traces of alcohol to be expelled from the body. Symptoms begin about 6 hours after the last drink. They normally follow three phases: 1) Symptoms emerge; 2) Symptoms peak; 3) Symptoms subside.

In a small number of people, alcohol detox can cause severe symptoms, called the DTs, on days 3-4. This occurs in about 5% of those going through alcohol detox and is a medical emergency. Detox experts are trained to observe symptoms closely and will act quickly if seizures and other severe symptoms emerge.

What to Expect in Treatment

During the treatment phase of recovery, there is a long list of therapies your loved one will engage in. All of these activities help to promote new healthy thought patterns and choices in recovery. These will include:

  • One-On-One Talk Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Holistic Treatments
  • 12-Step Program
  • Life Skills
  • Nutrition and Fitness

With your loving support, your loved ones will overcome the AUD and regain a sense of purpose and joy in their lives.

Journey Hillside Offers Comprehensive Treatment for Alcoholism

Journey Hillside is a private luxury treatment program that provides a high level of supportive care for a loved one with AUD. A highly trained staff caters to each client’s unique treatment needs. Explore this upscale, intimate recovery venue today by calling (877) 414-1024.