Many former addicts discover that their addiction was a form of self-medicating, in an attempt to deal with undiagnosed mental health illnesses, ranging from depression, insomnia and anxiety to full-blown disorders.
For example, people with social anxiety may turn to alcohol in order to deal with social situations, or perhaps those with insomnia will buy benzodiazepines off the black-market, or if they are depressed, start taking cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin.
These problems all too often come to the surface when their addictions are overcome, and so it’s absolutely essential former addicts get ongoing support from counsellors and peer group therapies, as well their family doctor if they need prescriptions for mental health disorders.
But what self-help methods are available for those in recovery suffering from mental health problems?
Exercise is vitally important. Not only does it keep weight under control, but it also releases endorphins, which are our bodies natural ‘feel good’ chemicals. It may be counter-intuitive, but exercise earlier in the day makes us feel more energised and awake into the afternoon, and it also helps with those suffering from insomnia. Just remember not to do any rigorous exercise 5 hours before you go to sleep, otherwise it can keep you awake.
Meditation is a tried and proven method to help those in recovery with anxiety and feelings of guilt and low self-esteem. There are numerous methods and practices, but the most common method includes focusing on the breath to quiet the mind, and then observing thoughts and emotions whenever they come, without getting caught up in them and letting them pass.
Doing this regularly allows the individual to see how feelings such as anxiety and cravings are transient and pass very quickly if they do not grasp at them and indulge them. This is extremely useful for preventing panic attacks and anxiety in general, while the observations into other feelings whilst meditating – such as feelings of guilt and low self-worth – can give us valuable insights as to where these feelings come from.
Other self-help tips for mental health problems include creating a support network among friends who those in recovery can rely upon when they are struggling. These networks can be built up by making new friends through hobbies and activities such as painting classes, yoga classes or hiking groups. But they can also be built up through old friendships where the friends are not drug users or partaking in other risky, addictive activities such as gambling.
Love & Compassion
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