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Why You’re Depressed in Early Sobriety

There’s a common misconception that once you get sober, everything is going to be great. It’s easy to believe that once you give up the drugs and alcohol, all of your problems will be solved. Not only are there different aspects of your life such as relationships and possibly financial struggles that you’ll need to overcome, but you’ll also have to manage your own mind. Many people in early recovery struggle with severe depression, and they don’t know why. Sometimes, this can lead to relapse, but understanding why depression in early sobriety happens can help you stay sober and live the life that you deserve. 

Why Depression in Early Sobriety Happens

Alcohol and drugs are mind-altering substances that affect the pleasure center of the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that helps form all of our behaviors and habits, and when you drink or use, you get bursts of dopamine. This euphoric feeling becomes what you chase in your active addiction, but unfortunately, it’s changing the way your brain works. As you continue to drink or use in excess, the brain’s ability to naturally create dopamine changes in devastating ways. 

Your brain is always trying to be as efficient as possible, so when you keep artificially creating dopamine, the brain says, “Well, I don’t have to create it naturally anymore. I can use these resources somewhere else.” During your addiction, it also changes your baseline dopamine levels, so you need more dopamine to feel a little better. As you can probably now understand, once you quit drinking or using drugs, your brain is no longer naturally creating dopamine. This is what leads many people to feel extremely depressed in early recovery. 

The Brain that Heals

Each day of sobriety helps to heal the brain, so over time, you naturally start feeling better. The first 30 to 60 days of your sobriety are going to be the most difficult. Not only are you dealing with detox, but your brain is also trying to regain homeostasis. The good news is that as you continue to stay clean and sober, your brain starts to heal itself. Over time, as you create bonds with other people in recovery and begin living a sober life, your brain starts to naturally create those neurotransmitters again. This is why people in long-term recovery are some of the happiest people you’ll ever meet. So, take it one day at a time, and things will get better. 

You’ll also find that your depression starts to go away as you accomplish different goals. When you set specific goals and accomplish them, the brain gives you bursts of serotonin and dopamine to encourage you to continue pursuing goals. So, a great strategy is to set small, daily goals for yourself like going to a meeting or talking to your support group as well as bigger, weekly and monthly goals.

If you’re currently struggling with an addiction or relapsed because of your depression, allow Enlightened Solutions to help. Give is a call today at 833-233-7336 for more information.

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