How Do Addiction and Mental Health Affect Each Other?

How Do Addiction and Mental Health Affect Each Other?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Addiction is a complex disease that affects individuals in different ways. Clients in recovery may experience difficult feelings, thoughts, and emotions while healing from addiction. Likewise, those struggling with addiction may experience mental health issues simultaneously. Addiction and mental health often go hand-in-hand, affecting clients together and leading to difficulties during recovery.

Healing from addiction is a complex process that should be centered around healing the whole person. At First Steps Recovery, staff members work with clients to curate individualized treatment plans that target mental and emotional health. Rather than focusing exclusively on addiction symptoms, First Steps Recovery takes a whole-person approach to ensure long-term sobriety and overall positive mental well-being.

How Does Addiction Impact Mental Health?

Addiction can lead to many detrimental effects on physical and mental health. Physically, clients may eventually experience lung or heart disease, strokes, blood concerns, or cancer. When trying to rectify these effects with medication, some people may become addicted to those substances. Alternatively, the medication may cause damage to their bodies.

Mentally, addiction can lead individuals to develop a co-existing or co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders are when addiction and mental illness are simultaneously present in a client. Common mental illnesses that occur along with addiction are anxiety and depression. Schizophrenia can also sometimes be present. On the other hand, for some clients, mental health disorders are present before addiction as they turn to substances to ease their mental health disorder symptoms.

Addiction often leads to mental health disorders because drugs and alcohol can affect serotonin functioning in the brain. Serotonin promotes a positive mood. This dip in serotonin eventually can lead people to experience negative emotional and mental health. A negatively changed brain state can lead to socialization and cognitive development problems in clients. Depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms are common due to the struggles of addiction.

How to Treat Addiction and Mental Health Simultaneously

Fortunately, there is an effective treatment for clients struggling with addiction and mental health. Treating the two simultaneously is most effective. Although this is true, many facilities treat them separately. However, because of the close connection between addiction and mental health, treating them separately may leave clients confused, frustrated, and experiencing less-than-desired progress in their healing journey.

A whole-person approach allows clients to develop an understanding of their mental health and substance use disorders (SUDs). Acknowledging the connection between addiction and mental health helps clients maintain long-lasting sobriety and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Treating both issues simultaneously allows practitioners to identify and treat the root cause of a person’s disorders. Working through difficult emotions related to addiction and mental health helps clients learn to cope with their difficult feelings in a healthy way. Engaging in healthy coping mechanisms helps clients ease their mental health symptoms holistically. This encourages them to continue using healthy coping mechanisms to promote long-term sobriety.

Healing Addiction and Mental Health at First Steps Recovery

At First Steps Recovery, the team uses this whole-person approach with nontraditional methods of treatment and therapy. Healing addiction and mental health simultaneously and as connected forces helps clients understand themselves on a deeper level. Promoting this deeper level of understanding is done through more holistic services.

These evidence-based treatments allow clients to personalize their recovery to gain a full understanding of their addiction and mental health. Understanding the root cause of their addiction and also understanding how addiction can negatively impact mental health helps clients re-purpose their lives and strive toward a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Whole-Person Services for Addiction and Mental Health

Whole-person and holistic services offered at First Steps Recovery include art therapy, music therapy, recreation, yoga therapy, trips and outings, health and wellness, horseback riding, and wilderness experiences. These services are implemented into clients’ treatment plans to promote healthy coping mechanisms, healthy ways of expression, and whole-person healing.

For example, in art and music therapies, clients learn to express themselves on a different level using the tools of art and music. They are encouraged to sit with their thoughts and feelings and express them constructively through creative means. This helps clients with inner reflection and expression. After engaging in these creative, holistic activities, clients can then better express themselves verbally in talk therapy. Clients can also better understand the underlying causes of their addiction and mental health concerns.

First Steps Recovery also encourages clients to connect with nature in order to connect to their inner selves. Spending more time with nature allows clients to address their inner difficulties with feelings and thoughts. Immersing themselves in the outdoors allows them to reflect on themselves on a deeper level in order to heal. The entire healing of clients is of utmost priority to ensure long-lasting sobriety after treatment. The vision of First Steps Recovery is to heal clients fully by providing them with physical, mental, and emotional recovery.

Here at First Steps Recovery, the team prioritizes healing the whole person in recovery. Rather than focusing exclusively on addiction symptoms and treatment, the staff personalizes treatment plans. These plans help clients develop an understanding of themselves, become self-driven in recovery, and understand the root causes of their addiction. Often clients experience mental health disorders (called co-occurring disorders) alongside their addiction. Clients may experience depression, anxiety, or symptoms of various mental health disorders while coping with addiction. First Steps Recovery works with clients to heal both addiction and mental health entirely. The ultimate goal is to encourage long-term sobriety and overall mental and emotional well-being. To learn more about our services, contact us at (844) 489-0836.

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