Alcohol and drug abuse during divorce can lead to devastating effects on the person abusing the substance as well as the people around them. Going through a divorce can be a tough process, and when you factor in the toll that divorce can take on a person mentally, it can make it even more difficult to deal with.
A study published in Psychological Medicine found that divorce and separation were associated with increased anxiety and depression. The study also found that people who got divorced were at an increased risk of alcohol abuse.
Alcohol and drug abuse during divorce are two types of common methods that people use to deal with the stress associated with this major life change. However, being a slave to drugs and alcohol does not provide people with the relief that they need. Depression and anxiety are serious mental health issues and, if not treated correctly, can lead to disastrous consequences and adverse health effects.
Alcohol and drug abuse during divorce: a coping mechanism.
Going through a divorce or separation can be painful but using drugs and alcohol during divorce to cope with the feelings will only cause more pain. While abusing substances may provide easy relief for the grief you are feeling, these substances are really doing more harm than good. It is important to remember that there are no quick fixes to divorce and that while using drugs and alcohol may make you feel better for a few fleeting moments, at the end of the day, they will likely make the situation worse.
Alcohol is a depressant. Using it to deal with a painful situation can only add to your sadness, while using drugs will take you out of your actual mindset, making it impossible to deal with the actual reality of your situation. Using substances in this way can also lead to addiction. If you are using drugs or alcohol unchecked to deal with an underlying mental health problem like depression or anxiety, it is easy for the situation to quickly spiral out of control.
Dealing with divorce can be difficult, and if there are other factors at play such as depression and anxiety, the situation can become even darker. And if it leads to addiction, the problem can quickly become a life or death issue.
On the other hand, if you already dealt with substance abuse issues in the past and are a recovering addict, the separation may make you feel like using again. Relapsing will not help – it will only make the situation worse. If you are feeling intense urges or cravings to use again, contacting a sponsor or friend to help talk you through the situation can help get you over the feelings that you are having.
It should also be noted that if you are relying on drugs and alcohol to cope with your divorce, it may be best to seek professional help to overcome these dependency issues.
Other Ways To Cope
As mentioned above, going through a divorce or separation can lead to mental health problems, which are underlying factors for drug or alcohol abuse. However, there are other ways that you can get past these problems.
Not making your diet a priority in the early months following a divorce is common, but getting the nutrition you need is necessary in order to maintain proper physical and emotional health. If you are struggling to eat large meals, start with small ones that are rich in nutrients and vitamins. If the problem persists and you are seeing major changes in weight, it may be best to consult a doctor to figure out what you can do.
Along with diet, exercise is one of the best things you can do to maintain and stimulate not only physical health but mental health as well. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to deal with mental health problems like depression and anxiety, which are so common following a separation. While you are exercising, your body will release endorphins to elevate your mood. Exercise can be a great coping mechanism to reduce stress and help you stay strong during this rough patch in your life. However, starting exercise is always the toughest part. Just know that you don’t have to dive headfirst – just get your feet wet at the beginning. A short run here and a brisk walk there can help get you started.
Focusing on breathing when you are experiencing anxiety can be helpful in making those feelings pass. According to the Office of Human Capital Services, anxiety brought on by loss usually results in shallow, rapid breathing. However, if you consciously slow your breathing down by taking a few deep breaths, you can lower your anxiety level.
After a divorce, sleeping through the night may prove to be difficult. Insomnia and fatigue are common after experiencing a loss. However, making sleep a priority can help make you feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Too little and too much sleep can make you irritable and tired and may exacerbate any anxiety and depression that you may be experiencing.
Alcohol and drug abuse during divorce are serious issues which affect divorcing people all over the world. One of the best ways to deal with anxiety, depression, and substance abuse during divorce may be to seek clinical help. Going to see a therapist to talk through your issues is a good way to get to the root of the problem. Similarly, if you don’t want to see a therapist, just talking through the issue with friends or family can provide the kind of cathartic experience that you need. Doing these things may help put you on a better path.
Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer of Landmark Recovery. He graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree and has been working in the healthcare space for 7 years. His vision is to save a million lives in 100 years with a unique approach to recovery that creates a supportive environment through trust, treatment, and intervention. www.landmarkrecovery.com