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May is Mental Health Awareness month, a time designated to raising awareness and challenging the stigmas that stand in the way of meaningful treatment and recovery. Because mental health disorders and addiction are often co-current, understanding how your mental health impacts substance abuse recovery is essential to maintaining long-term clean and sober living. At Harbor Village, we understand that the key to overcoming addiction lies in addressing the underlying causes. That’s why this May we’re focusing on the importance of nurturing your mental health as part of the recovery process.

 

The Correlation Between Addiction and Mental Health

Most people don’t look beyond stereotypes and assumptions when it comes to substance abuse and addiction. However, the reality is substance abuse disorders are often symptoms of more deeply-rooted mental and emotional challenges. Misdiagnosed or untreated mental health disorders and past traumas may lead to drug and alcohol abuse as a means of self-medication as a means of escape from difficult emotions or situations. This mental reliance on illicit substances gives way to physical dependency which may further compound symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mood and emotional disorders.

The physical and biochemical changes within the brain and body caused by long-term substance use also impact your mental health. Impairments to the brain’s natural production of dopamine and serotonin lead to feelings of numbness, depression, and the inability to feel pleasure without illicit drug abuse. The ensuing cycle of abuse and suffering can feel endless, as stigmas and misinformation make recovery seem impossible.

Because addiction and mental health are commonly intermingled, treatment programs which address both issues simultaneously are vital to successful recovery. Learning to process emotions properly helps remedy the mental and emotional reliance on illicit substances. By breaking the cycle of negative thoughts and emotions to harmful actions, one can begin to incorporate healthier coping mechanisms and habits which reinforce your commitment to recovery.

 

How does your mental health affect your recovery process? Let us know in the comment section!

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