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Drinking Alcohol to Avoid Withdrawal and Depression

anonymous anonymous
I drink because it makes me feel better and if I don't I just feel depressed. I think I need medication but when I told my doctor how I feel he said I needed to cut down on my drinking before I should try medication because it could be the drinking that is making me feel depressed. The thing is without drinking I feel so bad that I never can make it more than a couple of days without drinking It s a catch 22 situation. The drinking is making me feel bad but I feel so bad I need to drink to feel better. Should I find another doctor who will prescribe me the medications?

Iona Health Says...

From your first statement it appears that you don’t like how you feel with or without alcohol. The feeling you have identified is depression. Have you considered seeing a mental health professional who can guide your treatment; including medications. The additional benefit would be to have an alcohol abuse assessment to determine if you are using alcohol to medicate your depression, and/or additional problems, or alcohol abuse. Taking a drink to help you avoid feeling bad could be considered a sign of alcohol dependency. This symptom is referred to as alcohol withdrawal which suggests you don’t function normally without alcohol. Try to get an assessment and counseling which could help you manage your drinking and depression enough so that you can stop this drinking cycle.

I am not surprised that your doctor does not want to prescribe anti-depressants while you are drinking. After working with a number of psychiatrists, I have never found one who would prescribe medications if alcohol or other controlled substances are being used. If there is any problem with the medication, while using alcohol, it puts the doctor as a huge liability; especially if he knows you are using alcohol, a depressant, as well as taking prescribed medication.

The standard practice is to address any kind of substance abuse before taking on any mental health issue, like depression. Going to another doctor, or doctor shopping, would not be considered ethical, because no doctor should prescribe you medications if you are drinking alcohol; often a more immediate treatment problem. I recommend you take immediate action to address your alcohol use before you address your depression.

In my best opinion, you need to have a substance abuse assessment, plan to stop using alcohol, get into the appropriate level of care and treatment, and lastly address the source of your depression with a mental health/substance abuse professional.

Respectfully yours,

John W. O’Neal, Ed.S, MSW, MA, LPC, NCC

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Page last updated Aug 05, 2012

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