Embarking on the recovery journey from addiction is a brave and commendable step. However, it is important to acknowledge that this path has its fair share of challenges. In addition to the physical healing process, individuals often encounter various mental health challenges that can make the journey complex and demanding. There has been a 13% rise in mental health cases globally, indicating the need to pay close attention to this issue. Here are some challenges that may arise during addiction recovery and how to overcome them for a more fulfilling life.
5 Mental Health Challenges During Addiction Recovery | Self Care
Dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders
One significant mental health challenge in recovery arises when individuals simultaneously grapple with a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. These situations occur when a person experiences substance abuse or addiction alongside a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. The intertwining nature of these issues can create a cycle where mental health symptoms trigger substance use, exacerbating the symptoms. A comprehensive approach that addresses the addiction and underlying mental health condition is crucial to navigating this challenge effectively. Treatment options may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and medication management. Seeking professional help is vital in ensuring that both aspects of the condition are adequately addressed for long-term recovery.
Recovery can bring forth emotions ranging from joy and hope to frustration and sadness. Emotional dysregulation occurs when individuals struggle to manage and control their emotions effectively. Unfortunately, this is a common challenge during the recovery process. The rollercoaster of emotions can make it challenging to maintain your mental stability. Even worse, emotional dysregulation can prevent you from learning to cope with triggers or setbacks, potentially leading to relapse. No matter how difficult it may seem, developing healthy coping mechanisms and emotional regulation skills is the best way to do this. A combination of these two can counter this recovery challenge. You can start by engaging in therapeutic activities like mindfulness. When you become more attuned to your emotions, it increases the chance to build resilience. It will also be a good idea to connect with support groups and lean on the encouragement of loved ones you trust. All these act as a crucial safety net during times of emotional turbulence. No doubt the latter will happen, but when it does, you will be ready for it and have a better chance at regaining control of your life.
Relapse triggers and craving
Relapse is a real issue in mental health recovery. According to data, 3 in 5 persons who recently recovered from a mental health disorder are likely to experience a relapse, often due to circumstances beyond their control. The various triggers encountered can reignite intense cravings for substances or behaviors you are trying to overcome. Triggers can be external, and this is particularly evident in environments associated with past substance use. Meanwhile, internal triggers can be stress, anxiety, or emotional distress. Whether external or internal, these can pose significant mental health challenges in people trying hard to resist the urge to relapse. In situations like this one, the best thing is to know your triggers and take steps to identify situations or elements that give rise to them. For example, if you are recovering from a substance addiction like alcohol, it’s advisable to stay away from any alcoholic drink because it is a trigger. However, it goes beyond just the drink. Parties, nightclubs, pubs, and other social events can equally be potential triggers because these are places where alcohol is served in abundance. If you have been in rehab for alcohol addiction and still recovering, it would be wise to seek continued support from a group or a therapist. In some situations, a strong friends and family support network will greatly help your recovery. For example, they will deliberately avoid alcoholic beverages at family dinners or outings. You’ll need such steps to recover as your relapse risk is decreased.
Reduced self-esteem and self-worth
During recovery, you are often confronted with past mistakes, which can open emotional floodgates of guilt and shame. Feelings of inadequacy and a negative self-image tend to present significant mental health hurdles that hinder progress. If you are on a recovery path, that can lead to self-sabotage or make you feel unworthy. That is why mental health advocates recommend learning to cultivate self-compassion techniques and mechanisms. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. You will also do yourself a lot of good by setting achievable goals and celebrating milestones on the recovery journey. That gives you something to look forward to as you also focus on rebuilding your self-esteem and self-identity. Take the time to recognize your strengths and weaknesses while acknowledging that you have the power to overcome the wounds of the past. It wouldn’t be an easy journey, but knowing it’s not is what helps you brave the odds.
Social isolation and loneliness
The path to recovery can sometimes be lonely, and you may need to distance yourself from previous social circles and environments associated with substance use or unhealthy habits. Unfortunately, this can lead to feelings of isolation and may result in a disconnection from others. Humans are social creatures; therefore, the disconnection may pose another mental health challenge on your recovery journey. You will need healthy social connections comprising like-minded individuals who are committed to their recovery just like you. It is an effective way to combat loneliness without feeling judged or out of place. Nothing is wrong if you desire a sense of belonging, but the tip is to find that in the right setting and from the right people.
These points prove that the challenges you will likely face in your mental health recovery are surmountable. You only need to know where and how to get help. When you finally do, it will do you a lot of good to commit to the process and regain control of your life.