How Is Mental Health Related To Addiction

Most substance abuse problems stem from having pre-existing mental health issues that were not given much attention by either the individual or the community. Dealing with both is not as easy as it may sound and often requires professional help and treatment to overcome both.

In a report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, 50% of individuals struggling with substance abuse or addiction have severe mental health problems, and 29% of those diagnosed with mental illness succumb to drug addiction.

This information is vital to know that there is hope, and there is a path for recovery if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction.

What Is Addiction?

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Addiction is not limited to substance abuse. According to the American Psychiatric Association, addiction is a complicated situation, which involves the habitual use of a substance despite the adverse effects.

People who struggle with addiction (severe substance use disorder) are deeply centered towards taking or using particular substances, such as alcohol or drugs, without noticing that it is already taking over their lives.

When a person is addicted to something, their brain encounters changes in its wirings, causing them to have intensified cravings for a particular substance or drug, thereby making it hard for them to stop using or taking it. Brain images showed that there were changes in the brain areas responsible for memory, behavior control, decision making, and so on.

Why Do People Suffer From Addiction?

Addiction comes from a variety of reasons. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, they take it because:

  • They want to feel good and feel the pleasure of taking or using these substances.
  • To relieve stress and to feel better.
  • To improve their performance.
  • Out of curiosity and pressure from their peers

While their reasons for taking or using these substances are harmless at first, the feeling gives them a specific “high” and makes them crave more. Studies show that most people who struggle with substance abuse are aware of their problems and have taken steps to stop but cannot do so even if they wanted to.

It may be caused by who they are surrounded by, the concern and support from family and friends. The more support and encouragement they get, the easier it will be for them to slowly walk away from the abuse and bridge the path to wellness and recovery.

How Is Mental Health Related To Addiction?

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Substance abuse and most mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, are closely linked together. However, it is essential to note that the connection does not necessarily mean that one causes the other.

Some people suffer from depression but do not engage in substance abuse, and some engage in substance abuse but do not suffer from a mental health condition. However, one may be the cause of the other if it goes unnoticed or is not addressed over time.

There are instances where people who struggle with mental health conditions use alcohol or drugs because they were undiagnosed. They self-medicate and use these substances as a temporary relief to ease the symptoms they are experiencing regarding their mental health condition.

Unfortunately, this causes significant side effects, and it is where addiction kicks in. They rely primarily on the substance’s impact, and once it no longer works, they opt for a more potent substance or a stronger dose.

The situation becomes worse overtime because a variety of factors causes mental disorders. They may be genetic, may come from the environment the person struggles with, and others.

Studies have shown that substance abuse triggers new symptoms, especially when medications are mixed with alcohol or drugs. The medicines prescribed would be ineffective overtime and would delay the road to recovery.

How Important Is Therapy?

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It is difficult to ascertain if a person is only struggling with a mental disorder, or only with substance abuse, or both. It is crucial to seek professional help for them to be able to determine what mental condition you have and what are the appropriate steps to do for them to be able to recover from it.

For an accurate diagnosis, it is best to consult with a professional. They have the right tools and training to assess the situation. At the same time, they can prescribe appropriate treatment for the condition. 

Often, those who are suffering from substance abuse undergo medication and counseling. With modern technology, there are also special devices utilized to treat any withdrawal symptoms. After the patient has recovered, it is vital to avoid relapse. Professionals recommend having regular follow-up consultations for better monitoring. 

In conclusion, while substance abuse and a mental health condition may not be present in a person struggling with addiction, it is still vital to help them out. It is a vulnerable situation, and they should have someone who supports them in their journey to recovery.

If you are struggling with addiction or other mental health conditions, know that you are not alone, and you can fully recover from the addiction.

 

Using Your Sobriety To Keep Family Members From Abusing Substances

 

A person’s memory is impressive because some people can remember incidents that had taken place when they were only two years old. The picture is not very clear in their head, but they recall fragments that the adults can confirm.

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In truth, my memory is as sharp as that. I can tell you the child I always sat with in daycare, what my favorite food was as a toddler, and which kiddie shows I loved back then. However, if you ask me about what happened during my mid to late 20s, I may not answer you. That dark phase of my life had come as a literal blur, considering that’s when I tried every drug that I could abuse.

From Valium to meth to coke—I had it all. I am not proud to admit that, but it’s the truth. Luckily, my parents and siblings decided to intervene and brought me to a rehabilitation facility, even if I didn’t want to at first. I refuse to think of what may have happened to me if they let my addiction go on because I’m sure that my future may have been bleak or, worse, gone.

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Now that I am sober for ten years (and counting), I try to come up with ways to give back to everyone who has helped me overcome my drug problem. Hence, once I got a stable job, I started sending donations to the rehab that I stayed at for six months. They never asked for payment from the patients, but I knew that they could use the financial help. I also devoted my free time to programs that required facilitators, and it made me happy to see troubled individuals get better.

While those efforts seem right, I have not forgotten my primary supporters: my family. I thought, “What intangible thing can I do to express my gratitude for everything they have done for me?” That’s when I remembered all my nieces and nephews who entered young adulthood recently. Some of them were about to graduate from college; others already entered the real world. I realized that the answer to my question is helping ensure that none of my loved ones will be abusing substances like I used to do. Not now, not ever.

So, I used my journey to sobriety to make that happen. I taught my family members the following:

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The Problem With Feeling Overconfident

When I swallowed a prescription drug for the first time, I assured everyone that it was merely for calming my anxiety. I insisted that I would never get addicted to it and that I had everything under control. However, the reality is that I was barely hanging on for dear life at that time, and I depended on the pills to help me get me through my daily schedule.

My previous problem is that I acted overconfident about taking drugs. Although I knew what was happening, I said nothing because I did not want to hear, “I told you so” from friends and family. If only I lowered my confidence level by a smidge, I might have been saved early.

The Importance Of Facing Issues Head-On

Like a typical young adult back then, I wanted to do everything at once. I was working, socializing, building my career, and dating. But not all my decisions put in a favorable situation, and that caused me to worry too much. After experiencing a few issues, I turned to drugs to escape the real world.

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As I look back, I can’t help but wonder if my life has become different if I faced my problems head-on. While it was scary, I might not have needed to depend on drugs to “survive.”

The Value Of Asking For Help From Loved Ones

The reason why drugs became my best friend in the past was that I was too proud to let my loved ones know about my struggles. I painted an independent picture of myself in their head—someone you could turn to, not the other way around. Hence, this image prevented me from admitting that I was not okay anymore.

I thought I was doing everyone a favor by doing so, but I understood in rehab that it was the opposite. My family had been reaching out to me; I merely refused to ask for help. Again, if I used my voice instead of swallowing all those pills, things would not have aggravated too much.

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Final Thoughts

When I shared my addiction experience with my nieces and nephews, my parents and siblings cried with me. After all, the incidents might be blurry for me, but they were as clear as day for them. Thankfully, I am healed now, and we are only shedding tears for the dark path that almost took my life back then.

I hope that you have gotten a lesson or two from my story today.

 

 

 

Avoiding Relapse In The Midst Of COVID-19

 

 

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Drug or substance addiction is not a rare disease in America. Two years ago, there were over 20 million individuals who had a substance abuse disease. Of the 20 million, almost 4 million of these were receiving medical care, and more than 2 million were being treated in a drug addiction facility. While these 4 million started their journey towards healing and recovery in 2018, it did not end after rehabilitation was done. Instead, substance abuse treatment is only the initial step on the long-term path to sobriety. As they walk that path, there will be rough roads and pitfalls, particularly the threat of relapse. In truth, of those individuals who have undergone treatment, at least 40% of them relapse.

In these stressful and challenging times, when depression, fear, and boredom are the main variables influencing our lives as the coronavirus spreads worldwide, it is even more crucial to practice new habits that will help you effectively avoid relapse.

Tips To Avoid Relapse

There are different strategies for being mindful of yourself and achieving success in terms of healing and recovery. These strategies may be even more imperative as we face anxieties, seclusion, and social distancing as the weeks and months go by. With the global crisis affecting our way of living, those who have finished rehab and continuing to recover must be mindful of following these tips.

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  • Confide in others about how you feel. Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend, family, or significant other gives you a chance to release the negativity, fear, shame, or loneliness that you’re dealing with. Remember to be as honest as you can, or else it will be useless.
  • Learn new coping skills. Managing your stress, worry, or fear positively is very vital if you want to achieve sobriety for the long-term. Acquiring relaxation and stress management techniques may help you resist the temptation of thinking about drugs or alcohol during challenging times like the COVID-19 outbreak. Yoga, meditation, and breathing are all effective techniques that will definitely help.
  • Take Care Of Yourself. Despite the problems that you or your family may be facing because of the pandemic, you should always find time to practice self-care for your physical and mental health. This will place you in a better mindset. Self-care includes exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, eating healthily, taking time to meditation or self-reflect, going outside and feeling the sun and wind from your balcony, or simply changing the position of your furniture to feel brand new.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be bored. Schedule your day and fill it with activities that will strengthen your body and mind. Work on a puzzle or play a word game with your family. Sweat it out while watching television. Or read an exciting book just to load your day with something to do.
  • Be aware of the HALT – hunger, angry, lonely, or tired. These are all emotions that can heighten your stress and anxiety and may cause you to make unwise decisions.
  • Formulate a relapse avoidance plan. This plan may involve making a daily checklist of reminders, chores, reflections, or anything important to you. This list contains cues and reasons why you need to be sober.
  • Always be grateful. Despite the period that we are going through right now, which may be one of our darkest days, there is always something to be thankful for, and we must not forget that. Every day, be grateful for whatever you have received and for what you are blessed with.

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  • Seek help when you need it. Staying sober is truly daunting, and you constantly are at risk of making it more difficult if you try to go through it alone. If you feel like you can’t get through today, seek help from family or friends. Reach out to them by calling them, as it won’t be as easy as before to let them come over and keep you company. It depends on the gifts of digital technology to keep yourself connected to them and your community. You need a support system – do not deny yourself that.

During this time of the pandemic, therapies are still possible with online platforms like BetterHelp. Through teletherapy, licensed counselors have helped and serviced a lot of people, despite limitations on face-to-face interactions. Those who reap benefits from it have been leaving helpful reviews online.

The road to recovery is indeed a journey filled with bumps and falls, and you must acknowledge the fact that our current worldwide crisis may contribute to the risk of having a relapse. Be ready for this risk so that you will remain sober amid COVID-19.

 

 

 

 

Recovery From Addiction While Quarantined At Home

 

 

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These are shocking times, don’t you agree? Just a month ago, we went through life normally, visiting the neighbors, shopping in the malls, and hugging our loved ones. Now, like a snap of a finger, almost everything has changed because of the virus that we are fighting against. The outbreak throughout the country and the whole world has required us to keep our distance even from our family members that don’t live with us, to cover our faces with masks when we are out and about, and if possible to stay at home where it is safest and most comfortable. We could complain, but we dare not because we know it is only for our good. The self-isolation is not easy for us – but what more the people who are undergoing addiction recovery?

Sobering Up While Quarantined

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, among other organizations, have strictly recommended everyone to stay at home and isolate themselves to contain the coronavirus and stop its spread. Keeping that in mind, it is important for our loved ones who are in recovery to be provided with a structured plan of action to fight against the urge to relapse and the simple thought of nothing else to do at home. Let us discuss the vital measures to take for them to pursue and sustain their recovery.

Avoiding Relapse

The urge to use drugs or alcohol again is not only difficult during early recovery, but it can be a burden to them years after they have recovered. Addiction is serious, and it has many ways of influencing an individual’s brain and body. Cravings aren’t something that they can brush off just like that. They need to have established some kind of coping mechanism that they can use when the cravings come. One of the best ways for them to overcome these cravings is through support groups and therapy sessions. But during this time, when we are all prohibited from going outside and seeing our neighbors or therapists, where do they find the help and support that they need?

Recovering At Home While Quarantined

For rehabilitation staff and counselors, recovering from home is not recommended. However, now that we have no choice but to stay where we are, they must do the same too. There are many ways that our loved ones that pursue their recovery. The tips here have been collected so that addicts in recovery can help themselves and avoid the devastation that can be brought about by relapse.

 

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Make A Daily Or Weekly Plan

When you create a schedule of the things that you can and need to do for the day, you feel a sense of organization in your life, and this is important for the addict whose former situation had no structure and no meaning. His previous life was influenced only by his desire to get a hold of drugs or alcohol and to feel high. Once he manages to make a regular schedule for himself, he will be on track and will want to stay that way.

Look For A New Hobby

This is a recommendation from the rehab facility counselors, as finding new things to do keeps recovering addicts occupied and focused on something that is not about drugs. Boredom is one of the worst threats of former addicts because when they feel empty, they begin to crave for what they used to be addicted to. When they are stuck at home, they should learn something new to perk their interest. They might try making a garden in the backyard (with your help), cooking dinners, or cleaning the car. They could also check out some yoga classes online that they can follow. This will help them relax and attain peace of mind.

Join Online Meetings

The internet is one of the essential parts of modern society today. As much as it has its downsides, it does have a ton of positive sides. And for the recovering addicts, online forums and meetings with a counselor or therapist are among the positive aspects of the Internet. They can hook up with the rehab facility site and schedule an online meeting with a group or individually. Here, they talk to a therapist to catch up on how they are doing at home, what they’re thinking, and how they’re coping. This is beneficial for them because they can express what is truly bothering them, or if they have fears and anxieties, this is the time to let them out.

Always Communicate With Family

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Recovering addicts are urged to keep in touch with their family and significant others continually. This time is lonely, so it is even more vital for us to communicate with them and let them know that we care. Most of them feel insecure, distant, and guilty of their past. Encourage them to talk to you about anything and everything, even the smallest things. Let them feel that they are not fighting their cravings on their own, that we are here for them. You can use Skype, Zoom, or Facetime to catch up with each other.

Those are only some of the most critical measures that can help addicts in recovery while they are quarantined. It’s going to be tough not only for them but for us as well. Nevertheless, let us be optimistic because we are all in this together.