Without a healthy mind, the physical body cannot function properly. As an individual in addiction recovery, you likely know this truth from first-hand experience. Although researchers are still working to untangle the complexity of mental health and addiction, the importance of maintaining mental health in recovery is well established.
What Does Mental Health Really Mean?
Throughout addiction treatment, you probably heard that having a healthy mental state is key to avoiding relapse and achieving long-term recovery. What does a healthful state of mind really involve though? The mainstream definition explains that mental health is more than just the absence of a mental illness – it involves your overall emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Wellness in these areas influences how you make decisions, manage stress, and relate to peers. Positive mental health allows you to realize your full potential, cope with stress, work productively, and make meaningful contributions to your community.
Another Way to Think About It
Some researchers have regarded this definition as being culturally and situationally inflexible. The concern is raised that it focuses too much on identifying positive feelings and functioning as central to mental health. The researchers argue that all humans have bad days, some more than others, but that does not mean a person is suffering from poor mental health. In fact, you can be in good mental health despite being sad, angry, or even unhappy.
World Psychiatry explains this to be a part of life as a human being. For these reasons, they have proposed a new definition. They define mental health as:
“…a dynamic state of internal equilibrium which enables individuals to use their abilities in harmony with universal values of society. Basic cognitive and social skills; ability to recognize, express, and modulate one’s own emotions, as well as empathize with others; flexibility and ability to cope with adverse life events and function in social roles; and harmonious relationship between body and mind represent important components of mental health which contribute, to varying degrees, to the state of internal equilibrium.”
Stress and Mental Disorders Can Derail Recovery
Preclinical research has shown that substances alter brain structure and function. In particular, drug use enhances an individual’s reactivity to stressful stimuli. Hence, why you may have great difficulty responding to even relatively normal levels of stress. This is a particularly important trigger to manage, as it is one of the leading causes of breaking abstinence. Learning stress management skills is a key part of outpatient programs aiming to prevent relapse.
Multiple national surveys have found that about 50% of persons with drug or alcohol addiction also have a mental health disorder. Drug and alcohol use alters some of the same brain regions that are affected in individuals with mental disorders like schizophrenia, anxiety, mood, or impulse-control disorders. These changes are hypothesized to trigger the development of mental illness in the presence of an underlying predisposition. Therapies and medication may be necessary to properly manage a mental health disorder that can make you vulnerable to addiction.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
Whether you are grappling with trials and tribulations of being a human in recovery, or you are actively managing a mental health disorder, don’t forget to treat yourself. Self-care practices help you stay grounded and connected to your mind and body. They allow you the time to turn your focus inward and recharge your emotional cup. There are many ways you can manage stress and symptoms of mental illness:
- Exercise: find a physical activity you enjoy and include it in your daily routine. You will not only improve your physique, but you’ll be able to manage stress and anxiety better, as well.
- Nutrition and hydration: eating high-quality foods and drinking lots of water can improve mood, increase your energy, build immunity, and make you feel good.
- Sleep: a consistent sleeping pattern is essential to effective stress management and mood regulation.
- Relax: carving out time to just relax your mind and body is just as important as being active. Try meditation, breathwork, arts and crafts, journaling, or whatever else helps you regain stability.
- Socialize: make plans with family and connect with friends in recovery. Supportive and meaningful relationships are foundational to staying focused on what’s important in life.
- Reflect: think about where you are in your recovery journey. Do you have any new goals? Recognize the progress you’ve made while thinking about ways you can improve.
- Therapy: whether your problems are big or small, everyone could benefit from therapy. Discussing your emotions with a professional can help you unload emotional weight and gain a new perspective on how to think about the problem and deal with it.
Without a stable and resilient mind, the road to recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction will be a rocky one. Effectively managing stress and mental disorders that may co-occur with addiction is a key focus of relapse prevention. Renaissance Ranch Treatment Centers are located in Bluffdale, UT, and Heyburn, ID. We have been treating men struggling from addiction and co-occurring mental conditions for over 20 years. As a man, we know how hard it can be to talk about the issues you face. The stigma around addiction and mental health can be paralyzing. You don’t need to suffer in secrecy any longer. Whether you need treatment or have already been through a residency program, we offer the full continuum of care to meet your needs. Our outpatient program includes a range of counseling services for relapse prevention, anxiety and depression, and meditation and relaxation. Call us today at (801) 308-8898 for more information on how we can help you.