There are correlations between mental health and addiction, however, it is important to know one does not directly cause the other. There is a link between the two because of how they play off of each other. When you do have a substance abuse problem and suffer from a mental health disorder, such as depression, it is called a dual-diagnosis. Suffering from both disorders if ignored and left untreated is dangerous.
Early detection with mental health problems can help issues later in life especially with addiction. There are warning signs that family and friends should look out for. Drastic changes in mood or eating habits. extreme highs and extreme lows, cutting, pulling out hair, excessive anger, unprovoked violence, or even talk of suicide. If you have a friend or family member that you notice a change in, gradual or sudden, ask if that friend or a family member needs to talk. Mental illness is not curable. It is treatable. The sooner we can get mental health patients in with a mental health professional the better.
Disorders such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) can lead someone to self-medicate. Self-medicating can lead to the prolonged prognosis of mental illness or falling into addiction. For example, someone suffering from social anxiety can drink alcohol at a social gathering with the intention to calm their nerves. Unfortunately, with an addict, this can become “I can’t go out without drinking because I am always uncomfortable.” Or someone with undiagnosed social anxiety can delay seeking treatment because this may work for a short period of time. Or the student feeling lack of motivation or cramming for an exam may use cocaine or non-prescribed medications, like Adderall, off of the street to ‘help’ get them through that exam. Partying has become a norm on campuses and students with undiagnosed mental illnesses or is prone to addiction can fall into bad habits. Bad habits that can quickly turn into much bigger problems. These are real-life scenarios that can easily turn into symptoms of mental issues or addiction. Self-medicating can also provide an illusion of comfort. Therefore, again, prolonging them seeking counseling or treatment from what disorder is causing the issues to begin with.
Just as disorders can lead to addiction, addiction can lead to major mental health issues. Poor decision making is a huge problem with addicts. Sometimes, these poor decisions can lead to putting themselves in extremely dangerous situations. Becoming a victim of assault or rape is common among addicts. People who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to use drugs than the general public https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence . Some victims are ten times more likely to turn to hard drugs. During active addiction, a lot of commonplace practices can lead to life-altering issues. Sharing needles or having unprotected sex can lead to lifelong diseases such as Hepatitis or AIDS. The longer an addict stays active there are common disorders that can hide behind the addiction. Disorders such as schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, and PTSD. A lot of situations addicts find themselves in are triggers for any underlying problem they may or may not have had to begin with.
Substance abuse and mental health run hand-in-hand. One can hide or disguise the other. With certain withdrawals, depression and/or anxiety can be a symptom. Someone already suffering from depression, anxiety, or PTSD can go undiagnosed because of these withdrawals. It is vital that anyone struggling with mental health or substance abuse seek help. It is important to find an accredited program that can diagnose both mental health disorders and addiction. Say again? Dual diagnosis.
We all have dealt with several different moods every day and sometimes we might even have multiple mood swings all at once. But for people suffering from clinical depression, it’s a whole different story!
When people hear the term depression, it gives them an intense feeling of a vicious illness or state of mind that is untreatable and damages the person physically and emotionally.
Depression, on a broader perspective, can be considered as a certain state of mind where the person starts feeling negative about oneself and thus cannot handle real-life situations with hope and optimism.
However, thanks to the great leaps & bounds of medical science, clinical depression patients now have access to a plethora of antidepressants and expert therapists & counselors, who can help them get rid of their debilitating mental condition and gain stability in their thoughts.
Let’s talk about Antidepressants
The term itself is self-explanatory! Antidepressants are prescribed medications that are commonly used to suppress or mitigate the symptoms of depression such as anxiety, seasonal affective disorders, social chronic depression, dysthymia, etc. In other words, they help maintain a cordial relationship & harmony amongst numerous essential brain chemicals and neurotransmitters.
The Role of Antidepressants in Depression
The chemicals found in the brain of humans play a major role in determining one’s mood. When a person suffers from depression, there are sudden & drastic chemical reactions that lead to severe mood swings and anxiety. When a person starts to take a medication course of antidepressants, it is majorly setting up coordination between chemical balances and neurotransmitters.
Antidepressants come into action by establishing the relationship with neurotransmitters that reside between nerve cells in the brain. They prevent the “reuptake” of specific transmitters, thus effectively reducing the person’s anxiety and depression by not letting the transmitters go to those places in the brain that increase the risk of depression-prone cell receptors.
Types of Antidepressants
Here are a few types of antidepressants that are generally prescribed by doctors and psychiatrists to mitigate the symptoms of depression.
Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are used to treat serious depression and mood disorders. It helps in raising levels of serotonin and norepinephrine that are majorly responsible for mood stabilization.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They are safer to use as they have the least side effects as compared to other antidepressants.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are used to treat depression, fibromyalgia, some types of anxiety. They are helpful in controlling chronic pains.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) is used in cases where other antidepressants could not perform because of some specific kind of diet or food during the medication period.
Noradrenaline and specific serotoninergic antidepressants (NASSAs) are used to treat anxiety disorders, some personality disorders, and depression.
Alcohol in Depression
Often in movies, we see people consuming alcohol as a way to escape from all the sorrow and depression they are facing. But what they do not realize is that alcohol is in fact a depressant and it drags the person into more negativity, inferiority, and hatred feelings. In recent medical surveys, it was revealed that amongst people who suffer from clinical depression, almost one-third were surprisingly also abusing alcohol. Consuming alcohol is not a bad thing, but incessant daily consumption will surely make you a victim of alcohol abuse.
People, who get into the loop of continuous drinking when they are in depression, suffer from more pronounced & severe fits of anxiety and depression. It makes people think about their darkest and deepest sides, sometimes leading them to fatal situations like suicides.
If you are on the antidepressants and having alcohol as well, it does not allow the former to work to its fullest capacity. Thus, reducing the effectiveness of your depression medication. This ill habit of mixing alcohol & antidepressants will surely make you more depressed and sad than before!
One more side effect of having alcohol in depression reduces your capacity to make sensible decisions, often leading to more chaotic & stressful situations, which further increases the level of anxiety & depression symptoms.
Survival with courage
We realize that surviving with clinical depression is very difficult and traumatic to handle, but it is now easily treatable. Depression is not an ailment or infectious disease but it is just an unhealthy state of mind that has been caused due to some major incident or chemical misbalance in the brain. To get rid of your depression, do not run away from it. Fight with it with full courage. Prep yourself with the aim of getting out of it and do not take alcohol. Because alcohol abuse is always harmful. Get yourself enlightened with positivity. When you are ready to make the necessary lifestyle changes, seek advice from our counselors and help to start a new life. Life with hopes and opportunities.
Many pharmaceutical medications are used to relieve pain all over the world. But one must be aware of the fact that most of these pain-relieving medications, if not all, are highly addictive. Although, it’s not very common for patients who have been prescribed such medications to later fall prey to addictive behaviors & develop quite a strong physical dependence & tolerance as the treatment & time progresses. The strong chemical such medications usually consist are known to hasten the development of psychological and behavioral changes that can lead to addictive disorders.
However, one should not abstain from using pain medication, if they are prescribed to them out of medical necessity. Following the doctor’s prescription to the letter & healthy, stress-free environment is key for patients on pain meds to avoid addiction & tolerance to such substances.
There is a very thin line that differentiates pain management & addiction to painkillers. A patient might intend to relieve their symptoms with their pain medications but in the worst-case scenarios, might just be feeding their own addictive behaviors. We’ve found that people who usually get addicted to pain medications go through 3 distinct stages before they can actually be termed as being addicted.
Over longer periods of time, patients on pain meds will gradually build up their natural biological tolerance to their specific medications. This means that they will need more in terms of amount or dosage to mitigate their symptoms for which they have prescribed the pain medications in the first place.
The second stage usually comes up after the prescribed time is over. The patient in such cases usually experiences withdrawal symptoms as the opiates in pain medications build up a chemical dependence which alters brain & body functions which result in cravings.
In this stage, the patient starts consuming prescribed or over the counter pain medications. Even taking higher doses and amounts to cover up or their body’s natural tolerance. They start to proactively seek out opportunities to recreate their experience and thus addiction starts to set in.
Who’s At Risk?
People who stick to their doctor’s prescription usually don’t fall prey to addictive disorders. For the treatment of longer periods, the doctors also prescribe medications to avoid the onset of the stages of addiction.
Fentanyl (including brand name Duragesic)
Oxycodone (including brand name OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Tylox, and Roxicet))
Morphine (including brand name MS Contin)
Meperidine (including brand name Demerol)
Hydrocodone (including brand name Vicodin and Lortab)
Hydromorphone (including brand name Dilaudid)
How To Prevent The 3 Stages
We can’t emphasize enough on the point – Stick To Your PRESCRIPTION. If you keep taking your medications, the right amount, at the right time.
It’s advisable to share any past history of you & your immediate family with your doctor, so that the doctors may take the proper precautions while prescribing medication & their entire treatment cycle.
Although, it’s rare for patients to develop an addiction to their pain medications, it’s not unusual either. Your doctor can foresee the onset of the usual 3 stages of addiction and take the necessary precautionary measures to stop or mitigate them before they take a more serious turn.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, encourages you to stick to your prescription & be clear and honest with your doctor about prior substance abuse instances. We hope this article helps people in need become more aware of their situation & be just a bit more ready to tackle the 3 stages of addiction.
Meditation is a tool for quieting the mind, becoming at peace with yourself and the world around you. In the journey towards recovery a daily meditation practice can work wonders for staying centered, consistent and grounded. Your practice can begin with just a few mindful breaths; if you can breath, you can meditate! Benefits of meditation range from improved concentration and self awareness, to better sleep, stress reduction and a healthier heart. If that’s not enough, a regular practice can even reduce signs of aging and help you both feel and look younger!
I once knew someone who was going through a difficult point in their lives after the loss of a loved one. This person had struggled with alcoholism and finally found sobriety after years of commitment and hard work. While it was tempting to turn to alcohol to help numb the pain, he instead utilized and intensified his meditation practice from 10 minutes a day, a few times a week, to 30 minutes everyday. No exceptions, no excuses. He set aside the time, turned off his phone, removed distractions and took his “meds,” as he liked to call it.
He found that making this commitment not only saved him from relapsing into unhealthy habits, but also transformed his entire life for the better. His relationships flourished, new opportunities presented themselves and he finally found a deep sense of happiness, a feeling of contentment that could not be shaken.
So how do we get started? Below are 10 tips to begin your journey towards zen.
“The Longest journey begins with a single step.”- Patanjali
- Set aside a scheduled time each day, free from distractions.
- Put your phone on “do not disturb” and set a timer for the amount of time you wish to meditate- ideally 5-30 minutes. You can also download an app such as Insight Timer or Headspace for guided and timed meditations.
- Sometimes it’s useful to practice yoga or do some simple stretches before beginning. Some feel good movements such as neck rolls, shoulder rolls, cat/cows and seated twists can help relieve tension, allowing you to more fully relax.
- Sit comfortably- this can be on a chair, couch, bed or on the floor. If you sit on the floor in the traditional cross legged position you can pile pillows or blankets underneath thekk hips to alleviate low back pain.
- Close your eyes.
- Begin to quiet the mind by bringing your awareness to the breath, the slow rhythm in and out.
- Start your practice with a simple mantra. This can be anything you want, a word or a phrase such as “I am safe, I am peace, I am love.”
- Meditation is about quieting the mind but it is natural for thoughts to come up. Anytime your mind begins to wander you can use your breath as a couch, coming back to it, listening in and then settling back into stillness.
- Look at your meditation time as a tool to reset and recharge. Similar to a phone becoming slow when it has too many apps, emails, websites and texts open, your mind can become “cluttered” with the many things we process on a daily basis. Meditating allows you to refocus and find a clearer perspective.
- Open your eyes and smile when you’re done! Think of 3 things to be grateful for to seal your practice.
Extra credit: these are a few way to make your meditation more luxurious if you so wish!
- Take your meditation to the bath and add a few drops of lavender oil to the water.
- Light candles and dim the lights
- Set up a space or a small shrine in your home that of things that inspire you. For mine I have a small table topped with a photo of my daughter and hubby, fresh flowers, a small elephant that I bought in Thailand and a beautiful silk scarf and candles. I’ll sit on a pillow in front of my shrine for meditation time
- Fill an aromatherapy diffuser with a few drops of calming essential oils such as lavender, rose, or chamomile.
- Brew some tea to enjoy after your meditation time.
- Keep a journal as a part of your daily practice. Write down things that inspire you, struggles you are going through and anything else that comes up!