Understanding mental health when on the path to sobriety is essential. Anyone who’s had to deal with addiction will confirm to you that addicts go through periods of anxiety and depression, which only makes the situation worse. Many people, therefore, turn to alcohol or substance abuse to deal with the episodes.
Once you overcome the addiction, you no longer have an escape route for your mental issues and have to take specific steps to deal with them. We will share with you how to overcome mental illness in sobriety, and hopefully, you can find some respite.
Why the linkage between substance abuse and mental health
Many people turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of self-medicating. The situation is especially severe, where the patient does not have a good understanding of his or her mental health. Trying to understand mood swings can be challenging, and many will end up abusing substances. The unfortunate part is that it does not help the situation; on the contrary, it makes it worse.
Anyone suffering from addiction should also know that the use of such substances can exacerbate the likelihood of a mental health situation occurring. It is not uncommon to hear that people who use marijuana or hard drugs, end up with a certain level of psychosis. Studies show that even those who abuse painkillers run the risk of depression.
There is also the danger of the interaction of drugs and alcohol with certain medications. Doctors will impress upon the need to avoid them if you are taking some prescription pills.
1. Understand what the issue is
You can only address a problem if you know what is happening. By having a proper understanding of what you’re going through, you can take remedial steps. Writing down what you’re facing can have a therapeutic effect, and provide you with relevant reference material.
Being able to pour your thoughts into a journal will allow you to process what you’re going through. For some, it is easier than talking to another person.
2. Watch out for danger signs
There are sure signs that will show you that you may be developing a co-occurring disorder. It starts to become hard to know when you’re going through a mental health issue, or a drug-related problem. Warning signs could include turning to alcohol or drugs anytime you feel a need to cope with an unpleasant situation. It could also mean that when you take the substances, instead of an elevated mood, you sink into depression.
Also, confirm if there’s anyone in your family who has had a mental or addiction problem. Family history could be a good indicator that you are at a higher risk due to your genetic predisposition.
3. Be selfish
Selfishness is not a desirable trait, but if you are dealing with mental illness in sobriety, it does not hurt to take some time off for yourself. Even people who are mentally sound need to take some time off to just unwind by themselves.
Take a trip somewhere, get a good movie, and lock yourself in the house, go for a spa day, start a new hobby, among others. A few minutes on your own will give it time for introspection, and you can begin to understand why you chose addiction as a way of coping.
4. Do not ignore what you’re feeling
Many people will tell you that they turned to alcohol or drugs as a way of numbing their feelings. Let your emotions surface and acknowledge them fully; only then can you deal with them.
Analyze the feelings, as you would an exam paper. Allow yourself to ‘feel’ so that you stop running away from your feelings.
Addiction has a way of making people stop thinking about healthy habits. Unhealthy habits could include ignoring your diet, ignoring physical exercise, not paying due attention to your mental health, among others.
Once you start taking care of the aspects you had ignored, you will feel your body get more energy, and you will have an overall feeling of well-being.
6. Confide in someone
It may not be very easy to talk to family members or close friends, but you have the option of getting professional help. A professional will listen without any judgment and provide you with relevant coping skills.
Congratulations on taking the steps to sobriety. It is, however, easy for you to relapse if you do not take care of your mental health. Understanding what you’re feeling and getting a diagnosis is essential. Seek help from professionals and other family members, so that your recovery processes smooth.
Mental health issues can affect anyone, whether an addict or not, but due to the addiction, it could be worse. Getting the relevant coping skills is, therefore, an essential step if you hope to recover completely.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction or mental illness, DO NOT be afraid to reach out to us. Here at Warner Park Recovery, it is our goal to get you where you need to be; clean, sober, and healthy. Contact us today for more information.