Overcoming Depression in Early Recovery

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Your early recovery should be filled with happiness and promise. During drug treatment, you worked hard every day to address the underlying roots of your substance abuse and gained the tools and support you need to move forward confidently in your sobriety. You are looking and feeling better than you have in years, and with the encouragement from family, friends and your peers in recovery you are ready to jump in with both feet and start a new and exciting chapter in your life. While early recovery is a time of optimism and hope, it isn’t always a bed of roses.

In fact, you may encounter periods of depression in early recovery and it can be very unsettling. Even though feeling periods of depression in your early recovery can make you think that you are failing in working your program of recovery, depression is commonly experienced by almost everyone who is recovering from substance abuse–in fact, depression and addiction often go hand in hand. While everybody can feel depressed at one time or another, getting stuck in depression in recovery often leads to relapse. In order to guard against the onset of depression in your recovery, you must understand the common reasons why you can get depression and then develop healthy coping strategies to overcome depression if it starts affecting your life.

Why Does Depression Occur in Early Recovery?

overcoming depression in early recovery

Depression in early recovery can happen for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most common reason is the fact that depression is one of the most co-occurring disorders that occurs with substance abuse. Whether a person was formally diagnosed with depression or is undiagnosed, drugs and alcohol are used so they can cope with the intense feelings. Another reason why depression is common in early recovery is because people are grieving the fact they are no longer using drugs and alcohol. For many years, the use of substances become a part of everyday life–both good and bad. Once a person quits using drugs and alcohol, they have lost something that was familiar and comfortable.

Depression can also occur if a person feels stuck in their own recovery. While in treatment, an addict feels extremely motivated in breaking free from the vicious cycle of addiction and will focus their energy and passion in working their individual treatment program. Once they accumulate some clean time the motivation to keep on working their recovery may wane, and they may feel that recovery is boring. As stated earlier, these feelings are normal in recovery, but staying stuck in depression is not normal and can signal that a relapse may be on the horizon.

How Can I Overcome Depression in My Recovery?

Are you feeling depression to a degree that is affecting your recovery and outlook on life? Once you start feeling stuck in these feelings it is absolutely necessary that your find healthy outlets in order to work through those valleys and come out the other side. The following are some simple yet effective ways you can overcome depression in early recovery:


It may sound simple enough, but the easiest way to get out of the funk of depression is to exercise on a regular basis. Exercise floods your brain with dopamine which is the brain’s natural feel-good chemical. There is a variety of ways you can exercise such as walking, biking, rollerblading, lifting weights and yoga to name a few. You can also invite a friend along for added support and motivation.

Get a Hobby

Another way to beat depression is to find a hobby or past time that allows you to feel passion and enthusiasm. Whether it is learning a musical instrument, arts, and crafts or learning how to cook and bake, finding something that sparks your interest will take the focus away from negative feelings, and helps you achieve balance in your new life in recovery.

Reach Out to Your Support Network

When you are feeling depressed, oftentimes the best remedy is reaching out to others. During your early recovery, you have built up a support network of family, friends and recovering peers who are supportive of your new recovery-based lifestyle. Feel free to call them or invite them over for dinner, coffee or just to talk.


A key to overcoming depression in recovery is finding ways to build self-esteem and confidence. Through volunteering or mentoring others, you will feel the love of others and the feelings of being needed will make you feel better and will help build your recovery. Making a difference in others’ lives can go a long way in making a difference in your life.

Find Balance

When you were in active addiction, your daily life was one of extreme imbalance with substance use dominating your activities and behavior. In early recovery, balance is the principle that ties everything together and keeps you from getting too focused or obsessed on any one thing. The best way to achieve this balance in your life is to create and implement a daily schedule that has the proper balance and emphasis of work, school, family, and exercise. In addition to these elements, it is also important to include time in each day for relaxation. The key to balance is being able to allocate sufficient time each day for your obligations and passions so no one single thing steals away all of your time and energy. Finding this balance will minimize the feeling of complacency which can fuel depression.

Get the Tools You Need to Find Happiness in Your Recovery

When you are ready to make the commitment to treatment, Ocean Breeze Recovery Center should be your first and only choice. We offer a wide array of treatment options that can be individualized to meet your unique and specific treatment needs. Our experienced staff will work with you’re every step of treatment and will give you the tools and support you need to overcome substance abuse once and for all. Call us toll-free right now and find the key to peace, serenity and happiness.

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