Alcohol and depression ... thinking it might be time to cut back/quit

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New Member

Date Joined Jun 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/18/2011 8:26 PM (GMT -6)   
This is my first post here, it might get a little lengthy. A little background on myself: I am a mid-twenties male currently in grad school. I have had major depressive disorder and associated anxiety since I was 18 (officially diagnosed when I was 21). I have abused alcohol for almost the same length of time, starting when I began college.  Anyways, I started using booze and pot for fun - hanging out with friends and partying. I really did not suffer too many (obvious) consequences until I was 21 and busted my head open in Vegas after a alcohol-heavy St. Patrick's Day. Over time it has become more and more of a negative influence on my life, most noticeably the morning after when my depression seems to be back with a vengeance.

I do not rush to alcohol every time I feel depressed or anxious, but starting out grad school in a new town and trying to make a whole new set of friends has seemed to cause an uptick in social drinking (I am a moderately shy person, especially with new people - probably some mild social anxiety issues). t I really can't think of the last time I have gone more than a week without at least a few drinks. I do not consider myself an alcoholic (certainly up for debate) but I definitely abuse it more than any medical professional would deem safe or healthy. On occasion I will drink alone, usually in much smaller quantities than I would socially.

I am well aware that depressed people should not be drinking. I began seeing a psychiatrist at 21 and began taking antidepressants for about the next 1.5 - 2 years. He made it pretty clear that I should strictly limit my drinking, while not judging me too harshly. At this point I was probably consuming the most alcohol, in the summer of my 21st year when going to the bars was new and exciting (3-4 nights of binge drinking per week). It was great fun for the most part, but terrible for my brain chemistry. I cut back a bit after college, but am probably back up to 2-3 nights/week binge drinking. I was feeling a lot better after I began taking antidepressants, noted as well by then girlfriend, who besides a psychiatrist and psychologist has been the only person to whom I have ever really admitted my depression fully (my parents are aware from insurance fees and I am sure quite a few friends have noticed). Since then my depression has ebbed and flowed, and I have come to the conclusion that antidepressants are more a placebo (at least personally) and that I need to address my underlying issues to fully recover from depression.

The other night I went out to a concert and proceeded to get very intoxicated. I will skip over some details but say that I now have a good friend who is very unhappy with me related to a very stupid mistake. I am hopeful that we can resolve the issue, but I am pretty ashamed and concerned for my reputation. Prior to this (the last month or two), I have noticed a significant increase in stress due to school and work becoming demanding. A combination of sleep deprivation, binge drinking, cigarette smoking (never been hooked, but recently I have been flirting with it far too much - currently working on cutting those out completely) has wreaked havoc on my ability to focus, particularly at work. This can't continue much longer.

As I write this out it is even more clear that I should cut back significantly, if not quit, alcohol. However, socializing does seem to revolve around alcohol quite a bit with my friends here and back home. I guess I am looking for advice on how to begin cutting back -- I cannot realistically say that I can quite cold turkey, at least not in the immediate future.

For the record, I sought out psychotherapy immediately upon moving to my current location (about 10 months ago), and stopped seeing him about 2 or 3 months ago after he moved -- we were both in agreement that I was doing well (I was, mostly) and was ready to go it alone and see how things went. Right now I would like to try things on my own due to the costs of therapy and its limitations. I believe that I have the ability to at least make significant improvements on my own after gaining skills in therapy and from my own research. But I could really use some tips and advice from somebody who has been here before ... unfortunately for me I really do enjoy moderate drinking with friends, but I do not know if it is possible for me to consume any level of alcohol and fully recover from my depression. It will be very obvious to my friends if I quit drinking, and I am sure most would be very understanding and supportive if I explained why, but I'd rather it be a gradual cut-back process. Even if I were to successfully quit drinking, I feel like it would negatively impact my social life -- I know there are those who socialize soberly, and I commend them, however even as a completely sober person I would connect better with those who enjoy a little chemical enhancement on the weekends. I know people who drink significantly more than me and maintain much better mental health, but it appears that for me the costs of alcohol are outweighing the benefits.

Thank you to anyone who has made it this far through my long story. I apologize for the lack of flow between thoughts. I am finishing off what is left of my alcohol tonight, and from there who knows? I already have plans to celebrate my friend's birthday next weekend at where else - the bars. Perhaps I could be a designated driver. Alcohol has not really helped me meet a new woman in the past 11 months after a long relationship, so I should probably look at other ways of socializing. Any non-rehab advice is greatly appreciated.

Post Edited By Moderator (getting by) : 6/18/2011 8:24:13 PM (GMT-6)

It's Genetic
Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 1540
   Posted 6/18/2011 9:20 PM (GMT -6)   
Welcome to the Forum Seeker,

Alcoholics Anonymous has an expression that is H.A.L.T. It means to
Halt when you are Angry, Lonely, or Tired and take stock of your
situation. Stop, think about care for yourself, clear up the anger, apologize to those whom you've hurt, and seek assistance from an
Alcoholics Anonymous member whom you may talk to when you are

There are literally thousands of works on alcoholism for helpful ideas, but the one thing that an alcoholic must do is confess that he has lost control of his life because of alcoholism and that he knows he must turn his will over to his Higher Power to help him through each and every day.

If you feel you have reached that point, then I might suggest that you
seek out an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting somewhere in your area
and begin a lifelong road back to rationality.

Alcohol kills brain cells just as surely as narcotics do. It's to your
advantage to try for remission while you are still young rather than to reach the point at which your whole life is enmeshed in an inherited illness that many doctors consider now to be an extreme allergy to alcohol.

Continue to post as you wish; the members here will help you in any
way that they can. However, the first step toward remission is fully in your hands. Alcoholism cannot be cured; it can be arrested, and that's
wonderful once you accept the fact that you can do anything you want
to in life except drink alcohol.

Good wishes to you,

It's Genetic

Post Edited (It's Genetic) : 6/18/2011 8:54:46 PM (GMT-6)

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/18/2011 9:22 PM (GMT -6)   
I realize I have glossed over the depression aspect of my situation quite a bit here, but it has been significant for the past 7 years. I tend to downplay my problems to everyone, so I understand if my story doesn't sound like a big deal compared to what others on this site are dealing with.

getting by
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 42612
   Posted 6/18/2011 9:28 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi there,

I had to edit your post as we arent allowed to discuss illegal drugs on this forum. I do see a problem with the alcohol. As you know, it makes you depressed. So this depression that you are suffering may go away if you quit drinking. I am sorry that you need alcohol to socialize. They say that in no way is social drinking. Know that if you are going to drink, you are later going to be depressed.

You may have to change scenery if you quit drinking. You may lose a lot of friends. But you are probably outgrowing it anyway. You will meet different people when you stop drinking. People who are real friends. There may be less, there will be. You will see.

Good luck on not drinking. Joining a support group really helps.

Hugs, Karen
Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia

fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression, allergies

It's Genetic
Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 1540
   Posted 6/18/2011 9:33 PM (GMT -6)   
Your story is a big deal, Seeker, alcoholism is one of the most difficult addictions to eliminate from one's life, I've been told. Downplaying
your symptoms may be part of the illness; I just don't know about that,
but I have known alcoholics who had a desperate time trying to over-come the one thing they cannot do: drink alcohol. Accepting that is
a huge hurdle in overcoming virtually all the other problems that life
has to toss at everyone.

I hope you will regard the efforts of the members of the forum as serious pleas for you to get professional alcoholics anonymous help that will make remission more readily possible for you.

Depression is part of alcoholism, since drinking alcohol makes depression worse. Drinkers probably know better than anyone in life. It definitely makes the illness of depression worse and that includes alcoholism. The only real answer is to stop the use of alcohol, and that's easier said than done, isn't it? But it is the only way for an

It's Genetic

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/18/2011 9:33 PM (GMT -6)   
I appreciate the response 'It's Genetic'. Alcoholism does run on one side of my family a bit, and I may well be in denial. I tend to think of an alcoholic as someone who drinks almost/every single day, which I do not (likely 2-3 or so nights per week currently). But I am no expert. I am not a religious person, so I don't feel that AA is really the place for me (I realize it was worked for thousands, maybe millions of others). I do feel that meditation has helped me with anxiety and could maybe be a part of the solution, along various lifestyle changes.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 6/18/2011 9:36 PM (GMT -6)   
You might gain newer friends, once you quit...maybe some else in your group has
also been wanting to quit the alcohol...Contact your nearest AA get the meeting times and dates.
That should be your first step, the next one is actually going to and attending the meetings at AA.

Once you've got the alcohol under control your depression might lift, but
won't go away completely, but quitting the alcohol should at least help...
well wishes to success for you...
* So many dx's I could write a book* "It would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...

It's Genetic
Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 1540
   Posted 6/18/2011 9:38 PM (GMT -6)   
You probably may wish to do some reading about alcoholism, Seeker.
There really are all types of personalities addicted to alcohol; there are
even what are called "controlled drinkers" who may drink only on
weekends, but alcoholism is alcoholism, and it's imbibing in it that
causes the problem; period. That has to go to for the person to become stable again in life.

Take care.

We'll talk to you tomorrow.

It's Genetic
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