Drug Abuse and Mental Health

Mental health issues can feel like a badge of dishonor to many who suffer, especially those who additionally battle addiction. But, the burdens can be lessened through counseling, physical activity, diet, and socialization. Read on for more on the connection between the mental health and drug addiction and ways to help yourself or a loved one fight back and enjoy a whole and healthy life.


Addiction is a mental illness…


First things first: You must acknowledge that addiction is a mental health disorder and one that can’t usually be resolved without help. It is an illness that deteriorates the brain and impacts everyone around you. It is also one of the most difficult to treat since it not simply a matter of balancing chemicals in the brain, but eliminating the body’s dependency on a synthetic substance.


There are a number of mental illnesses that can trigger drug abuse or alcohol abuse. Obsessive compulsive disorder is strongly related to excessive drug use as is antisocial personality disorder. 90% of people with antisocial personality disorders also have a co-occurring addictive disorder. Depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder are all common mental health issues with ties to drug addiction.


That requires a daily effort in order to recover.


It can be hard to overcome the social stigma surrounding mental health and, coupled with addiction, it is really difficult. Here are a few tips to help you get started on the road to recovery:


  • Know your worth. Avoid self-criticism and learn to treat yourself with respect and kindness. Take time out at least once a week for your favorite hobbies or to learn something new.
  • Prioritize physical health. What you do with your body directly impacts your mental and emotional state. Make sure to eat nutritious meals and drink plenty of water. Get regular exercise, which triggers the release of chemicals that can actually combat stress and anxiety. Make sure to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night as it is believed that sleep deprivation contributes to depression, especially in young adults.
  • Forge a strong inner circle. Whether you realize it or not, the moods and attitudes of the people you spend time with play a part in how you feel. Surround yourself with genuine people. It is known that individuals with strong interpersonal connections are healthier overall than those without a support network.
  • Don’t be stingy with yourself. It is be easy in the middle of a deep depression to lock the doors and stay away from everyone. However, taking the time to volunteer with a community organization will help you feel good about yourself and offer you the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals.
  • Learn how to deal with stress. Even the most mentally stable people have to deal with stress every now and then. It’s just a fact of life. Figure out which coping skills are right for you. This could be writing, exercising, or just taking a moment to yourself to breathe.
  • Acknowledge your victories. Take some time to write down things you want to do it through life. Once you know your goals, you can break them down into steps and celebrate along the way. Not only will you feel accomplished but, as you watch yourself progress toward your goals, you will realize that your worth is not defined by society’s perception of those with mental illnesses.
  • Abstain from bad habits. Don’t try and self-medicate with alcohol or illegal drugs. While these may offer a temporary sense of relief, never forget that drug abuse is never the right solution to any problem.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Admitting you have a problem and need help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of someone strong enough to admit their shortcomings and who is willing to take whatever steps necessary to get their life back.


Taking care of yourself now will not only improve your current physical and mental health but will ensure your body is in peak shape to handle whatever the future may have in store.

Thanks to Kim at ushealthcorps.org for contributing this article




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