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Addiction and Substance Abuse

How long is this going to last?

02/19/2009

Question:

I have been clean from injecting Heroin for over 3 and a half years. I go to meetings, eat right, work-out, ect. My problem is that I have incredible bouts of depression and anger. I know I have very little coping skills, but I constantly feel threatened by my addiction, like it`s always right behind me. I`m tired of feeling low and like I`m in mourning. I abused it for approx.5 years. Is thisgoing to go away eventually, or am I stuck with these felings as a result of my actions?

Answer:

Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations on your sobriety. You mentioned bouts of depression and anger: it is possible that you may also be suffering from clinical depression (also called Major Depression) or from another mood or anxiety disorder (such as Bipolar Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

It is quite common for individuals with addiction to also have a co-occurring mental disorder, which is commonly known as "dual diagnosis." Because it has been so long (3.5 years) since you last used, it is very likely that there is something else going on besides just recovering from addiction.

My recommendation would be that you consider getting a mental health evaluation by a psychiatrist, preferably one who is knowledgeable about addiction.

You also mentioned feeling constantly threatened by your addiction. I anticipate that this feeling will eventually fade away as your recovery continues. At the same time, it is important to "remain vigilant" about the potential for relapse because in some sense, you are exactly correct--your disease is, in fact, "trying to kill you". To the extent that you can take care of your physical, mental, and spiritual health, you are much more likely to stay sober for an extended period of time.

In short, you are NOT "stuck with these feelings". There is great hope for further growth, healing, and recovery.

For more information:

Go to the Addiction and Substance Abuse health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Christina M Delos Reyes, MD Christina M Delos Reyes, MD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University