Alcoholism and depression | A military veteran's perspective

Alcoholism and depression | A military veteran's perspective

Alcoholism and depression | A military veteran's perspective

Hello,

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My name is Adam, and I am an alcoholic and I struggle with depression.

I have not had a drink in over a year in a half and I am proud to say that I don’t think I will ever go back to drinking.

For most of my adult life, I have been self medicating with alcohol to help numb my depression, and if you are reading this then we have something in common.

In this alcoholism and depression article I will discuss my history with alcoholism and discus how alcohol depletes the body of essential vitamins and minerals that can actually cause depression as well as supplements and books that may help you with your struggles with alcohol and depression.

My struggles with Alcoholism

Alcohol in itself is a depressant making it the worst form of medication for alcoholism, yet we all seem to do it.

Why the hell do we do it?!

ALCOHOL AND THE MILITARY

The military mentality

In the military, the work hard play hard mentality is something we lived by. I have many fond memories of my team and I partying like crazy for weeks on end.

GOOD DRINKING MEMORiES

One particular memory of my military drinking was when we were conducting diving operations in Muscat Oman. The 1 week dive job turned into 1 days of diving, and 3 weeks of drinking.

It was pretty bad, we would drink all night at the local bar, partying like rock stars, and then wake up the next morning, have bloody marys and start the process over again.

Around day 20 of drinking all day remember telling my good friend Aaron that we needed to find something else to do or I was going to die.

We never did find anything else to do. We just kept on partying like there was no tomorrow. By the time the “dive job” was finished we knew all of the hotel managers, the hotel band members, and the entire hotel bar staff.

I don’t know how much money we spent drinking there, but the bartenders always had a smile on their faces when they saw us coming, because we always dropped big tips on top of our bills.

During this trip I burned half my goatee off doing flaming shots of sambuca, and my good friend Aaron tried to put his head through a glass window on his birthday.

BAD DRINKING MEMORIES

For all of the good memories alcohol brings, there are double or triple the bad memories.

  • Blacking out

  • Throwing up blood

  • Ripping my esophagus from throwing up too hard.

  • Suffering from alcohol poisoning to the point where I should have probably went to the emergency room, but I never did.

  • DRINKING ALONE

  • THROWING UP AND DRINKING MORE

  • ACTING LIKE A COMPLETE IDIOT AND MAKING A FOOL OF MYSELF

I was a first responder for nuclear weapons and I was drinking a bottle of vodka a night unless I was on duty.

SIGNS OF MY OWN ALCOHOLISM

  • Experiencing temporary blackouts or short-term memory loss ( CHECK )

  • Exhibiting signs of irritability and extreme mood swings ( CHECK )

  • Making excuses for drinking such as to relax, deal with stress or feel normal ( No, I always knew I had a drinking problem )

  • Choosing drinking over other responsibilities and obligations ( CHECK )

  • Becoming isolated and distant from friends and family members ( CHECK )

  • Drinking alone or in secrecy ( CHECK )

  • Feeling hungover when not drinking ( I can’t say this every happened to me )

  • Changing appearance and group of acquaintances you hang out with. (HUH?)

MY ANSWERS Recognizing alcoholism QUESTIONAIRE

Questions to ask yourself about alcoholism

  1. Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking? YES

  2. Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking? YES

  3. Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking? YES

  4. Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get over a hangover? YES

  5. Have you continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? YES

  6. Have there been situations where you ended up drinking much more than you intended? EVERY TIME

  7. Have you lost interest in other activities and hobbies since you started drinking? NO

  8. Have you experienced symptoms associated with an alcohol withdrawal? YES

  9. Have you felt an urge or craving to consume alcohol? YES, but not any more!

  10. Have you gotten into situations while drinking that increased your chances of harming yourself or others (i.e., drinking and driving)? UH, DRINKING IS HARMING YOURSELF, BUT YES

  11. Have you been in trouble with the law due to alcohol-related problems? FORTUNATELY NO

MY THOUGHTS ON ALCOHOL

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It amazes me that alcohol is a legal substance in this country when a relatively harmless substance like Cannabis is illegal and has put hundreds of thousands of people behind bars.

According to the ARDI application, during 2006–2010, excessive alcohol use was responsible for an annual average of  88,000 deaths, including 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20 to 64 years, and 2.5 million years of potential life lost.  More than half of these deaths and three-quarters of the years of potential life lost were due to binge drinking.

Does Alcoholism cause depression?

Alcoholism or depression, which one comes first?

Nearly one-third of people with major depression also have an alcohol problem. Often, the depression comes first. Research shows that depressed kids are more likely to have problems with alcohol a few years down the road. 

I am a firm believe that many of us that are suffering from depression are suffering from vitamin deficiencies, and guess what?

Alcohol depletes our bodies off all sorts of important vitamins.

Info from boulder medical center.

VITAMIN DEFICIENCIES FROM ALCOHOL

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin) — Deficiencies trigger depression and irritability and can cause neurological and cardiac disorders

  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) — In 1982, an article published in the British Journal of Psychiatry reported that every one of 172 successive patients admitted to a British psychiatric hospital for treatment for depression was deficient in B2

  • Vitamin B3 (niacin) — Depletion causes anxiety, depression, apprehension and fatigue

  • Pantothenic Acid — Symptoms of deficiency are fatigue, chronic stress and depression

  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) — Deficiencies can disrupt the formation of neurotransmitters

  • Vitamin B12  — Deficiency will cause depression.

  • Folic Acid Deficiency is a common cause of depression.

Deficiencies of other nutrients can also contribute to the negative feelings that frequently lead susceptible individuals toward another alcoholic beverage. These include:

  • Vitamin C — Continuing deficiency causes chronic depression and fatigue

  • Magnesium — Symptoms of deficiency include confusion, apathy, loss of appetite, weakness and insomnia

  • Calcium — Depletion effects the central nervous system

  • Zinc — Inadequacies result in apathy, lack of appetite and lethargy

  • Iron — Depression is often a symptom of chronic iron deficiency

  • Manganese — Necessary for proper use of the B-Complex vitamins and Vitamin C

  • Potassium — Depletion is frequently associated with depression, tearfulness, weakness and fatigue

  • Chromium — Enhances glucose uptake into cells. A deficiency can cause hypoglycemia

  • Omega 3 EFA — In adults, skin disorders and anemia develop as a consequence of EFA deficiency

This means that not only are the vitamin deficiencies causing depression, they can also be causing you to want to drink.

TREATING ALCOHOLISM AND DEPRESSION AT HOME

ALCOHOLISM SUPPLEMENTS

Supplements for Alcoholism & depression

Remember when I said that alcohol causes vitamin deficiencies that cause depression? With the right vitamins and minerals, it may be possible to treat your alcoholism and depression from the comfort of your own home.

Of course it is always good to consult your doctor, and none of this should be taken as medical advice.

Books on Alcoholism and depression

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