For over 30 years, US-based organization ‘Faces & Voices of Recovery’ has recognized September as National Recovery Month. The purpose of this campaign is to “promote the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance use disorders”. To support this effort, we asked our pals at Sunshine Behavioral Health to share some advice on how to stay mentally healthy while recovering from an addiction.
To explore additional resources and learn more about Recovery Month, you can visit the official 2020 campaign website here.
Addiction and mental illness are all too often intertwined. People often seek mental health support when they are also seeking help for their addictions. And sometimes, challenges such as anxiety and depression can even drive people to abuse drugs and alcohol. The reverse is also true, since abusing substances can create or heighten depression and anxiety.
In some cases, spending time at an addiction treatment facility is necessary. These facilities not only aim to rehabilitate an individual’s body, they can also support with mental health as well.
However, the recovery process can extend far beyond a few weeks or months in an inpatient treatment facility. If you or someone you know has struggled with addiction or substance abuse, here are three ways to stay mentally healthy while recovering from addiction.
3 Ways to Stay Mentally Healthy While Recovering from an Addiction
Therapy can be a very effective tool to continue your recovery and protect your mental health. Even after going to rehab, you might still crave drugs and alcohol. You might encounter people, places, and things that triggered your addiction in the past.
An experienced therapist can help you develop strategies for facing these triggers or eliminating them from your life. Therapists can also reassure you that cravings are normal. They can remind you that you’ve rejected them in the past and can do so in the present and the future.
Assistance for addiction recovery and mental health can also come in the form of sobriety groups. These groups are often connected to well-known programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
Sobriety groups are sometimes known as 12-step groups because they encourage participants to progress through a series of twelve steps as part of the healing process. While the steps are important, so are the people in the groups.
People in sobriety groups are in all stages of recovery. Some people may have been sober for years while others just stopped using. Longtime group members share what has helped them and what has hurt them, while newer members can share their experiences and ask for additional advice.
Sponsorship is another valuable component of the recovery process. In this process, veteran group members serve as mentors for the newly sober. These relationships remind new members that others have fought similar battles and won. Serving as sponsors gives veteran group members a much-needed boost of self-confidence, self-confidence that may prevent them from returning to alcohol or drug use.
Addiction is both mental and physical, so a successful recovery should acknowledge both aspects. An increasing number of drug and alcohol addiction centers are promoting holistic choices, which are options that treat the body, mind, and spirit.
Yoga is one such approach. It’s physical because it stretches and exercises the body. It’s mental because it encourages people to focus on the present. And it’s spiritual because practicing yoga urges people to be in touch with their bodies and the greater universe. Yoga shifts attention from drugs and alcohol to many other things.
Other forms of exercise can also provide such well-rounded benefits. How many times have you heard runners or other athletes refer to being in the zone? When they’re in the zone, exercisers are experiencing an intensely focused state of mind that’s almost spiritual. Instead of concentrating on cravings for drugs or alcohol or other distractions, they’re precisely focused on the task on hand.
Under the best of circumstances, it can be difficult to cope with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. And if we’re recovering from an addiction, handling challenges with mental health can be even more difficult.
While managing addiction and mental illnesses can be challenging, it’s not impossible. Therapy, support groups, and holistic approaches can all provide much-needed assistance and support. They’re proof that you can find lasting recovery and that you’re never alone while doing so.
- drugabuse.gov – Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction: Treatment and Recovery
- ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – 12-Step Interventions and Mutual Support Programs for Substance Use Disorders: An Overview
- huffpost.com – What Is Being “In the Zone”?—the Fascinating Psychology of Super Productivity
- thelilyjoproject.com – Anxiety & Stress
About the Author: Pamela Zuber
Pamela Zuber is a writer and editor at Sunshine Behavioral Health who is interested in health and wellness, gender issues, human rights, science, history, and several other topics.