AS@W Antidepressant Skills Workbook: Heling You Deal With Depression
Useful Information
Drugs and Alcohol

One of the reasons that depressed people use recreational drugs and drink alcohol is that these substances can make them feel better in the short run. But, in the long run, they can make depression worse:

  •  Problems are avoided rather than dealt with.
  •  Performance at work, at home, and in social situations is impaired.
  •  Psychological and/or physical dependence can develop.
  •  Physical health can be impaired.

During periods of depression, alcohol and drug use may seem particularly tempting. But, at these times, using such substances is a bad idea. Your tolerance for their effects and your ability to control your use may both be lower than usual. The situation usually requires concrete, constructive action rather than a retreat into substance use. As well, drugs and alcohol interact with many prescription medications, including most of the medications prescribed for anxiety and depression. In general, then, it is best to follow these guidelines for a sustaining and sustainable lifestyle:

  •  Avoid using alcohol or recreational drugs during periods of depression or severe stress.
  •  Avoid using alcohol or recreational drugs if you have a personal or family history of substance abuse.
  •  Even if you are feeling fine and have no history of abuse, adopt a personal policy to use these substances only in moderation.

The prospect of eliminating alcohol and drug use from your life can be a daunting one. Remember that while using none is best for some people, reducing your intake is better than becoming overwhelmed and giving up. Use the principles of goal-setting to help you examine the problem and overcome it a bit at a time.

If your use of drugs or alcohol is altogether out of your control, you are in good company: many people have had this problem. A number of organizations exist that can help you to regain control. Ask your physician for more information.