Millions of people struggle with addiction to drugs and alcohol each year. The number of them who are also dealing with mental health struggles is enormous. Whether it’s trauma from the addiction itself, or there was something that happened prior to the addiction, getting mental health care can improve the chances of long-term recovery tremendously. It’s important to understand how mental health and addiction are connected so that you can find the right treatment and recovery process. Here’s what you need to know:
The mind and body are connected
The mind and body are connected in many ways, which means that mental health problems can affect your physical health. This means that your physical health can also impact your mental health. Substance abuse can impact the brain in many ways leading to mental health struggles. Conversely, mental health struggles can lead some people to substance abuse instead. If you’re not taking care of your mind during recovery, then it will be more difficult to walk in sobriety. This is one of the benefits of residential treatment. Professionals can help you understand and process what has happened in your body and how it is impacting your mind.
Many people self-medicate using drugs and alcohol
Many people self-medicate using drugs and alcohol instead of dealing with stress and other issues in a healthy way. This can be a way of coping with mental health issues, but ultimately it leads to addiction for many people instead. If you’re using alcohol or other drugs to help yourself feel better, it would be better to seek out mental health treatment instead. While the occasional beer or glass of wine to unwind isn’t a concern, when it becomes a ritualistic habit that you must do, then you may be struggling with addiction.
Addressing trauma and emotional wounds can make substances less appealing
Too often people walk around with emotional wounds that they may not realise are there. They don’t understand why they feel anxiety being around certain people or why certain situations feel dangerous even though they are perfectly safe. These are indicators that there are unresolved traumas hanging out in the body. Instead of getting curious about these emotions, too many people look for ways to numb them. This causes more issues as these emotions get buried and addiction emerges. Uncovering these traumas and helping people to process them in healthy ways can make substances less appealing.
Mental health issues are often present with addiction
Many people with addictions also have mental health issues. In fact, the majority of people who have a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. This can make it difficult to discern whether the chicken and the egg. The connection between addiction and mental illness is complex. However, there are many possible causes for this overlap in symptoms.
Some medications used to treat mental illnesses can lead someone down an addictive path. Others may find that they needed mental health help, but it was easier to use substances like drugs and alcohol instead.
Getting to the root of addiction is an important part of the process
On your recovery journey, it’s important to dig deep if you want to stay clean and sober for a lifetime. Addiction is often a symptom of deeper issues. It can be a coping mechanism for trauma, grief, and other mental health problems. Addiction is a disease that hijacks the brain’s reward system and takes over your ability to reason clearly about what’s best for you.
Using different therapeutic approaches is helpful for recovering addicts
Did you know that there is more to therapy than just talking about your problems? There are cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy, EMDR, and different approaches that can help addicts form new habits and process traumas. Recovering addicts often benefit from these different therapeutic approaches because they have a wide variety of mental health needs.
Mental health care can teach you healthy boundaries
Did you learn how to have healthy boundaries when you were growing up? Good mental health care can teach you healthy boundaries. If you are used to saying yes to everything and you feel uncomfortable about it, learning how to set good boundaries can help. This skill is critical for recovering addicts because they learn to take back their voices.
Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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