Why Some Have a Spiritual Crisis in Recovery

When a person gets sober, life turns upside down. You uncover aspects of your life that you’ve forgotten, and you let go of parts of your life that are unhealthy. Everything is different. And because of the grand change that takes place, some recovering addicts might go through a spiritual crisis.

Interestingly, there’s a saying in the mental health field that addicts are very spiritual people, but that they are knocking on the wrong door. Perhaps some addicts found a connection to the transcendental through drugs and drinking, and if all that needs to come to an end, then how is someone to experience that kind of spiritual connection again?

Some of the symptoms of a spiritual crisis might include:

  • Life feels meaningless.
  • Fear of losing one’s identity.
  • Fear of “going crazy”.
  • Life feels unreal or like a fantasy.
  • Feelings of great anxiety.
  • Fear of death.
  • Feelings of being a stranger in the world.
  • Urges to connect with a higher being or a transcendental source.
  • Depression.
  • Feeling the world to be threatening.

You might define a spiritual crisis as a time in life when you question yourself, your beliefs, and your view of the world. You might experience a significant change in your identity, which can leave you feeling disoriented and lost. You might go through a dark night of the soul or feel like a different person. You might not only feel like a different person, but you might not know who you are at all. This lack of identity can feel like a spiritual emergency.

In fact, many studies reveal that spirituality plays a significant role in one’s healing and transformation. For this reason, more and more treatment centers are including meditation, yoga, and other alternative type of practices to help foster meaning and purpose. In fact, a study done by Florida Atlantic University showed that the lack of certain spiritual factors (such as meaningful relationships and a connection to a higher power) is associated with alcohol abuse and drug addiction. According to the study, these same factors are also associated with other mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, as well.

If you feel like you are undergoing an identity crisis and a spiritual emergency, there are some resources available to you. First of all, you’re not alone. This experience is not unheard of among those in recovery. So, you can feel safe to talk about your experience at a 12-step meeting or a recovery group. Here are some additional steps to take if you feel like you are experiencing a spiritual crisis:

  • If you have a sponsor or therapist, talk to them about your experiences. They would want to know what is going on anyway.
  • Spend time with others, such as friends and family. You may or may not feel comfortable sharing your experience but at least the presence of others can keep you safe.
  • Visit a doctor for a medical checkup. You might be having symptoms of an illness.
  • If you’re not seeing a therapist, contact a mental health provider to be sure you’re not experiencing symptoms of a mental illness.
  • Talk to your priest, rabbi, or spiritual teacher.

In addition to the above, keep in mind that, in many cases, having a spiritual crisis is a stepping stone to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.


If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community
or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit.
You can find us on Twitter via @TranscendSL
Come and visit our blog at http://TranscendRecoveryCommunity.com/blog

Balancing Your Sobriety with the Need to Take Medication

For someone who has addiction, it’s very common that he or she also has a mental illness. In fact about 80% of those who have an addiction also have a mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other disorders. Of course, anyone who is treating their psychological disorder is seeing a psychiatrist and likely taking medication. However, there may be a concern with having to take medication and your vow to stay clean and sober. Another example is a recovering addict who gets into a car accident and needs to take pain medicine in order to heal. The risk of temptation and taking more opiate medication than what was prescribed might be present. This article will explore the challenges of having to take medication while attempting to stay sober and abstain from substances.

According to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and their 12-step philosophy, taking medication when in pain, or suffering from a psychological disorder interferes with one’s commitment to sobriety. When you’re in recovery from addiction, AA claims that a person needs to stay away from substances altogether.

However, other experts will say why not allow a person to effectively treat their condition and continue on with their recovery. In fact, this FIX article points out that mental illness are biologically based, such as any other physical illness. AA would allow a person to take medication for cancer, for example, so why can’t a person also take anti-anxiety medication?

This debate continues to exist in the field of addiction and recovery. However, more importantly, a person needs to decide for themselves whether taking a particular medication is going to interfere with their sobriety. For instance, certain medications come with side effects which might affect one’s ability to stay sober. If someone were prone to depression and a side effect is drowsiness, then someone might choose not to take that particular medication if it means feeling tired or frequently with low levels of energy.

Furthermore, if someone were healing from an addiction to prescription pain pills, and if he or she were in a car accident, then there might need to be an alternative to taking that kind of medication. In other words, despite what experts are saying, it might make more sense for you to explore for yourself what might put you at risk for relapse and what medications will be safe to take.

Part of this exploration should include a discussion with your psychiatrist or doctor. Gather information about a certain medication before you take it. Find out its side effects, what it is intended to do, and whether it has any addictive qualities. One drug that is commonly prescribed for anxiety is benzodiazepines. However, they are incredibly addictive and hard to get off. Many psychiatrists are no longer prescribing them. You might also agree that taking this medication for anxiety will not work since it may put you at risk for relapse.

Also, keep in mind that that doctors don’t have prescribing medications down to a science. They rely on your input in order to know whether to make an adjustment. They rely on what you share about your experiences with them in order to decide whether to increase, decrease, or maintain your current dose. As you are exploring your options and if you decide to take a medication, stay in constant communication with your doctor so that he or she knows the right amount and combination of medication that will be the most efficient and bring the least interruption to your life.


If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community
or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit.
You can find us on Twitter via @TranscendSL
Come and visit our blog at http://TranscendRecoveryCommunity.com/blog

Alcohol Can Increase the Risk of Suicide

Alcohol Can Increase the Risk of Suicide | Transcend Recovery Community

It is often the case that men and women drink alcohol to escape pain. This might be physical pain in the body. However, frequently, it is emotional pain. People tend to turn to drinking when they are faced with fear, sadness, loss, anger, or the feelings of betrayal. Sometimes these feelings are the result of life challenges, such as financial worries or divorce. However, sometimes certain feelings are the result of an underlying mental illness. Someone might experience depression or anxiety or the mood swings that typically come with bipolar disorder. And mental illness, specifically depression, is commonly associated with suicidal thinking. This article will review the relationship between drinking alcohol to supposedly feel better and how drinking can actually increase the risk of suicide.

When someone turns to drinking alcohol, likely they are hoping to feel better. They are wishing for that alcoholic buzz and delirium that takes life’s problem away. However, there are dangers to drinking, especially when someone experiences suicidal thinking.

Here are some reasons why drinking alcohol can be risky when someone has a tendency for suicidal thoughts:

  • Alcohol can exacerbate what someone is actually already feeling. When someone is feeling bad, he or she could feel a lot worse afterwards. Of course, this deterioration of mood could further any thoughts or ideas about suicide.
  • Regular alcohol abuse can bring on depression in someone. Research indicates that about 40% of those who abuse alcohol also have depression.
  • Alcohol can create feelings of impulsivity. Someone is more likely to attempt suicide when drinking without thoughts about the future of one’s family or any other consequences.
  • Alcohol can also lower inhibitions in someone. If someone had been thinking about suicide but had been afraid to do so, alcohol might propel them to take their life. Many of those who die by suicide reveal that they had alcohol or other drugs in their system.
  • The addiction of alcohol frequently contributes to the deterioration of one’s life. Losing friends, family, career, and home can create a significant amount of stress for someone, further contributing to their suicidal intentions.
  • Alcohol can increase feelings of aggression, which can be exhibited by taking one’s own life.

According to research, about 21% of people who experience an alcohol addiction lose their life to suicide. If you or someone you know drinks alcohol regularly, the following are warning signs to look for regarding suicide:

  • Giving possessions away.
  • Long periods of low mood with hopelessness about the future.
  • Increase in the use of drugs and alcohol.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family.
  • An obsession with death.
  • Actively seeking tools to commit suicide.
  • Impulsivity.
  • Talking to friends and family as though they are never going to see them again.
  • Mood swings.
  • Expressing feeling of relief when thinking about suicide.

If you or someone you know regularly drinks alcohol and exhibits any of the following warning signs, you can save a life by calling for help. Contacting a physician or mental health provider can be just the right support to turn a life around.


If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community
or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit.
You can find me on Twitter via @RecoveryRobert
Come and visit our blog at http://TranscendRecoveryCommunity.com/blog

Ending a Nicotine Addiction Might Be Harder If You Have a Mental Illness

Ending a Nicotine Addiction Might Be Harder If You Have a Mental Illness | Transcend Recovery Community

If you’re in recovery for alcohol or drug addiction but you still smoke cigarettes, you’re not alone. It’s common for those who once struggled with an addiction to also have a nicotine addiction. However, interestingly, more and more research is pointing to a connection between mental illness and nicotine addiction.

One study found that nicotine receptors in the brain actually improved mood in certain types of depression. At the same time, this study also found that those who smoke are more likely to have symptoms of depression than those who do not. Depression is associated with an increased risk for smoking, and research has found that smoking is often a behavior that depressed adults engage in as a way to soothe their symptoms.

Someone with anxiety might also find some relief in nicotine and cigarette smoking. Research shows that when an individual smokes, nicotine raises levels of attention and triggers a flood of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that relaxes and temporarily relieves anxiety. Like other drugs that activate dopamine, the result of regular nicotine intake turns off the natural switch for dopamine, and the long term supply of this brain chemical decreases over time.

Despite the perceived ease of symptoms from mental illness, research indicates that nicotine actually increases anxiety over time. Also, the nicotine addiction will create cravings and withdrawal symptoms in someone who hasn’t smoked in certain period of time. Sadly, approximately 1,000 people die from nicotine-related illnesses every day, including lung cancer.

Perhaps learning the effects of smoking might encourage an increased effort to quit. Fortunately, there are various options to help you wean off nicotine. For instance, there are the products such as patches, gum, lozenges, and inhalers which can aide in the smoking cessation process. These products could be an effective tool to use when trying to quit smoking. However, it’s also important to know their side effects. These products might cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

In addition to these options, you might also try medication, prescribed by your doctor or psychiatrist. For example, you might take an antidepressant to help you quit. Because nicotine tends to help lift one’s mood, taking an antidepressant might actually replace the need for nicotine. For instance, Bupropion is a drug that is prescribed to help people resist the urge to smoke. It’s often used for 7-12 weeks helping someone wean off the habit of smoking. Side effects include insomnia, dry mouth, dizziness, headaches, and nausea.

Another drug to try is Varenicline. This drug was specifically designed to address nicotine dependence. It stimulates dopamine in the brain as well as limits or blocks nicotine receptors. Although this drug is successful for some people, it comes with some serious health warnings from the Food and Drug Administration.

If you have a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, it would be important to discuss options with your therapist or psychiatrist. It might be best to treat your mental illness first which could make it easier to quit smoking. Of course, you might not even be aware that you have a mental illness. In this case, if you’re having trouble quitting nicotine, contact a mental health professional who can assess whether a mental illness is a factor in nicotine addiction.


If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community
or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit.
You can find me on Twitter via @RecoveryRobert
Come and visit our blog at http://TranscendRecoveryCommunity.com/blog

When Hearing Voices Leads You to Drink or Use Drugs

When Hearing Voices Leads You to Drink or Use Drugs | Transcend Recovery Community

Hearing voices is an incredibly difficult experience. And it’s one of those experiences that can’t be explained if you’ve never experienced it. Although there are some tools to use that can mimic what it’s like for those who want to know what it feels like, the great difficulty of the experience can never be fully understood unless you know it yourself.

However, in an effort to describe it, hearing a voice can be similar to the way that most people might hear a voice externally, as though someone were calling you. However, the difference is that it is happening within. The voice has no physical source. Interestingly, although most people haven’t had the experience of hearing voices, it’s common for some who hear their name being called but then look and discover that in fact no one was calling them. Perhaps this might be a close example for the experiences of hearing voices.

There are many ways to hear voices. It might happen as a “voice thought”, engaging you in a conversation. Voices can feel as though they are coming from inside the head, such as a thought or they might feel as though they are coming from within the body. Voices might be talking to you or they might be talking about you. Other voices might be entirely non-verbal, such as images, visions, and even smells, but related to a particular inner spontaneous experience.

Voices can also be experienced like a dream, such as having an experience that feels real but isn’t. Often, when people fall asleep on the job, for instance, and perhaps have a day dream, there might be an experience of reality to it, making it feel like a waking dream.

Sadly, hearing voices can continue to happen all day long, without ever stopping. It could be similar to a song that is replaying over and over again in your mind. You did not ever make the decision to play that song in your mind, but perhaps you heard it recently, it is making its appearance. The disruption to your thinking that the song creates can be similar to the discomfort that voices can have.

In fact, hearing voices can become so severe that it can lead to drinking or drug use. It can lead to the need to escape from one’s own mind, and as a response, drug use is a common answer. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, those who have schizophrenia are much more likely to have a substance abuse addiction than the general population. Yet, at times it can be difficult to tell the difference between those with schizophrenia and those who are affected by alcohol or drugs because those who abuse drugs can show similar symptoms to those who have schizophrenia.

However, instead of using drugs or trying to drown voices away by drinking, the following are some helpful tips, provided by the Mental Health Foundation, on how to manage the voices you might be hearing:

  • Talk to others who hear voices for support.
  • Participate in a self-help group with others who hear voices.
  • Talk about your voices with others you trust. This gives you an opportunity to learn the games and tricks that your voices might have.
  • Although it is a difficult step to take, try to accept the voices as a part of who you are. This can be the beginning to feel more in control rather than having the voices control you.
  • If you have a voice that is malicious, be sure to connect with others who hear voices so that you’re not alone. You can discover ways to structure the voices so that they do not feel as invasive. More importantly, learning how to manage negative voices can keep you safe and away from engaging in risky behavior that the voice might prompt you do engage in.
  • Continue to talk with family and friends that you trust. As they come to accept the fact that hearing voices is a part of an illness, they can be supportive versus judgmental. Sharing what you learn about hearing voices with them can also earn their trust and support.

Drinking and drug use isn’t going to make your internal experience any better. In fact, it might only worsen the negative feelings and thoughts you have. The above are tips to use to manage any voices you hear safely and effectively.


If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community
or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit.
You can find me on Twitter via @RecoveryRobert
Come and visit our blog at http://TranscendRecoveryCommunity.com/blog

The Benefits of Living at an Addiction Treatment Facility

The Benefits of Living at an Addiction Treatment Facility | Transcend Recovery Community

There is a wide variety of treatment forms to choose from when it comes to addiction. Of course, it depends on your needs. For instance, if you’re struggling with a severe form of addiction that’s significantly impairing your life, then you may need to live at a treatment center for a period of time. However, if your needs are not that severe, then perhaps an outpatient treatment center is better.

Exploring the benefits of a residential treatment center might help you decide upon the type of treatment you need. Of course, it’s best to discuss your options with a doctor, drug counselor, therapist, or psychologist. However, in order to help you weigh the options, below you’ll find a list of options that are non-residential.

Sober Living Homes / Halfway Houses – These are an extension of care for those recovering from addiction and who have already participated in and lived at a rehab center. At these centers, although patients live there, as they would in a traditional rehab center, they have significantly more freedom to be able to attend work, school, or family events.

Outpatient Treatment Center – At these centers, patients live in their own home but attend the Center at regular intervals for treatment. They might attend the Center for group therapy, individual therapy, drug counseling, or mental health treatment. Regular attendance to the Center depends on their need, and can be daily, weekly, or bi-monthly.

Community-Based Services – These are informal ways to get treatment, such as attending an Alcohol Anonymous (AA) meeting. AA meetings and others, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Overeating Anonymous (OA) are based on the 12-step model of treatment.

However, if you found that the above options won’t quite meet your needs, then you might strongly consider a treatment center in which you live with other recovering addicts. These are typically called residential treatment centers or live-in health care facility, also known in the drug-counseling field as RTC. An RTC might offer services such as drug counseling to address substance abuse, therapy to treat mental illnesses, and other forms of treatment to address behavioral issues. RTC’s often also address the issues of patients who have a dual diagnosis, meaning they have both an addiction and a mental illness.

Additionally, RTC’s also offer individual and family psychotherapy, medication, support groups, and strong communication among the psychiatrist, psychologist, family members, social workers, teachers, and other professionals an adult’s life. Ideally, there would be an integration of services between the psychiatric and the drug counseling fields in order to best treat an adult with a co-occurring disorder. Along these lines, some RTC’s are beginning to employ behavioral health therapists to ensure that behavioral concerns are well addressed.

Furthermore, there are also RTC’s that are gender specific. (Sober living homes and halfway houses can also be gender-specific.) When the opposite gender is not attending the same treatment center, patients can keep their thoughts and attention on their recovery without having romantic or erotic distractions. In addition to this obvious benefit, being with others of the same gender undergoing the same process can be supportive. For example, rooming with another individual of the same gender, attending group therapy with those of the same sex who have the same concerns, and working with issues that are specific to your gender can support the emotional and psychological growth that can take place during treatment.

Lastly, one of the greatest benefits of an RTC is that you are immersed in a sober living environment. You don’t have to contend with any issues at home, whether they are relationships, the presence of drug-using friends, or reminders of your life as an addict. In an RTC, you can fully and completely focus on your recovery. Having this kind of environment in the beginning is crucial to the start of recovery for most addicts.

These are some of the benefits of living at an RTC. However, be sure to consult your doctor or psychologist before making a final decision about your addiction treatment.


If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community
or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit.
You can find me on Twitter via @RecoveryRobert
Come and visit our blog at http://TranscendRecoveryCommunity.com/blog

The Use of Psychotropic Drugs in Substance Abuse Treatment

The Use of Psychotropic Drugs in Substance Abuse Treatment | Transcend Recovery Community

Addiction treatment often includes medication, including psychotropic medication. Even though you might expect anti-anxiety or anti-depressants to treat only mental illness, they are also used to facilitate the process of withdrawal from addiction and sobriety.

Psychotropic medication can alleviate many psychological symptoms, which is why they are commonly used not only for depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, but also to alleviate the discomforts of addiction treatment. They can help alleviate conditions such as an inability to concentration, sleeplessness, paranoia, hallucinations, manic states, moodiness, or depression. These drugs can significantly improve mood, health, well-being and quality of life for individuals who suffer from these conditions as well those who are having a challenging time with the beginning stages of their recovery.

Along these lines, there are many recovering addicts who find that there are in fact mental illnesses lying beneath their addictions. As their addiction wanes and as they begin to physically improve, they may experience anxiety, states of depression, moodiness, or other symptoms, such as those described above. In these cases, psychotropic medication might also be useful and prescribed as a part of their addiction treatment.

There are a variety of antidepressants that are used for different psychological disorders, depending upon a person’s needs and circumstances. For example, MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors) were the first class of anti-depressants to be developed. They increase levels of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine by inhibiting an enzyme called monoamine oxidase. TCAs (Tricyclic Antidepressants) work by increasing the levels of norepinephrine as well as serotonin, but to a lesser degree. SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) increase the levels of serotonin, which can ease depressive symptoms. SSRIs are incredibly effective, but they do come with risks. They can cause suicidal thoughts and even attempts at suicide. SNRIs (Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors) are a new class of anti-depressants. They differ from SSRIs in that they increase levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. They have similar side effects to SSRIs as well.

In addition to anti-depressants, there are also anti-anxiety medications. One of the most common anti-anxiety drugs used in drug treatment is benzodiazepines. They have been very effective in treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The risk with benzodiazepines, however, is that they are highly addictive and have severe withdrawal symptoms. And for this reason, researchers are exploring other forms of treatment for the alcohol withdrawal process. The benefit to benzodiazepines is that if a recovering addict can take them as prescribed, they usually pose the risk of addiction and instead, the medication greatly facilitates their alcohol detox process. However, if an addiction does develop, the withdrawal process from benzodiazepines can be severe.

Other types of medication used to aid the psychological withdrawal experience include anti-seizure and mood stabilizing drugs. It’s important to know that you can be actively involved in the conversation with your doctor about what drug you’re using, the symptoms you’re experiencing and whether or not it’s working in your life. Perhaps knowing the traits of an ideal drug would help. These include:

  • Do a good job of reducing or eliminating symptoms.
  • Be safe in that the side effects are not harming or dangerous.
  • Not interact with other drugs, making them ineffective.
  • Not produce additional side effects.
  • Be convenient to use, such as a pill a day or with meals.
  • Be inexpensive.

If you are in the early stages of your recovery and you are experiencing significant psychological side effects, talk to your doctor, therapist, or drug counselor. There are ways to manage the psychological discomforts that come with addiction treatment.


If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community
or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit.
You can find me on Twitter via @RecoveryRobert
Come and visit our blog at http://TranscendRecoveryCommunity.com/blog

Sober Living for Men Only

Sober Living for Men Only | Transcend Recovery Community

There are many sober living homes and addiction treatment centers available across the country. Many of them are for both men and women and there is no separation among genders, except in their housing. However, the addiction treatment field is recognizing the many differences between men and women. These differences are not only in their needs while in recovery, but also in the ways they come to addiction and the reasons why they turn to substance use in the first place. For instance, men and women:

  • Get addicted differently.
  • For different reasons.
  • Progress differently in the addiction cycle.
  • Recover differently.
  • Relapse differently.
  • Men tend to use more alcohol and illicit drugs versus prescription psychoactive drugs.
  • Women tend to get introduced to drugs through significant relationships.

it’s important to know that there are many factors that contribute to whether a male, no matter what age, becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol. For instance, factors include the presence of addiction in the home of origin, the level of co-dependency, the freedom to express feelings in the family of origin, as well as physiological, psychological, and physical factors.

Another factor for men is the presence of mental illness. Many men throughout the world don’t recognize they have depression, for instance, and they very rarely seek help. They are frequently reluctant to talk about their feelings. Instead, it’s easier to escape to alcohol. Drinking can become a self-medication that helps men feel better and lose the heaviness they may be feeling inside.  However, over time, if the self medication that alcohol or drugs provide develops into an addiction, both the depression and the addiction will need to be treated. Achieving sobriety means treating the mental illness as well as the addiction which only masks the deeper problem.

Another factor for some men in the development of addiction is using drugs to feel better, stronger, more confident. Of course, this is common among both genders. However, men tend to feel society’s pressure to withhold their feelings, present themselves as strong and confident, even when they are not. This can be difficult if within there are issues of low self-esteem, powerlessness, and a lack of confidence. Men who turn to drugs to feel better might finally face those uncomfortable feelings of powerlessness and low self esteem when addiction treatment begins.

However, fortunately, there are sober living homes as well as addiction treatment centers that specifically tend to the needs of men, including the treatment of mental illness along with the addiction. The many factors that contributed to a man’s addiction is addressed and opportunities for healing are provided. For instance, many men benefit greatly from the social network that naturally form in addiction treatment centers which house men only. They can feel safe to discuss the experiences they’ve faced and concentrate on their sobriety. Men can build relationships with other men who are struggling with the same life concerns. Having an environment in which men do not need worry about social approval or the impression they are making on others can facilitate focusing on what’s important during recovery.

Research shows that men who reside at a sober living home in a structured environment after treatment have a greater chance of staying sober. Men who continue to remain in a structured environment after detoxification and residential treatment for at least 30 to 60 days will be more likely to transition back into society without relapse.

As the field of drug counseling improves year after year and with the significant amount of research on addiction today, more and more studies reveal that men and women experience addiction and recovery differently. Both genders are driven to drink or use drugs for different reasons and both turn to sober living treatment at different times in their addiction. Many men participating in gender-specific addiction treatment often deeply appreciate the way in which their recovery began – with custom attention to their unique needs, wounds, and goals.


If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community
or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit.
You can find me on Twitter via @RecoveryRobert
Come and visit our blog at http://TranscendRecoveryCommunity.com/blog

Signs of Mental Illness If You’re Struggling with Addiction

Signs of Mental Illness If You're Struggling with Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

Mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, is very commonly an accompaniment to addiction. In fact, they are so frequently a pair that there are many addiction treatment centers that offer what’s called integrated treatment. That is, they offer mental health treatment that addresses both the addiction as well as the mental illness.

Frequently, men and women who are suffering from addiction are not aware that they are also suffering from a mental illness. Often, this comes to light during treatment, such as during the withdrawal phase or later when one’s awareness of self grows stronger.

Fortunately, part of treatment is learning about the dynamics of addiction, and with that comes education on various forms of mental illness. Although mental illness doesn’t always accompany addiction, it is a frequent enough occurrence that it’s worthy of learning about. Furthermore, even if you discover that you do not possess a mental illness, it’s also quite common to discover that someone in your family is suffering from mental illness. For instance, your spouse, children, parents, or siblings might have experienced depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, which might in turn contribute to the kind of relationship you had with that person.

If you’re curious about mental illness and want to know what to look for, common signs of depression include:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Sleep changes
  • Loss of energy
  • Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Concentration problems
  • Anger, physical pain, and reckless behavior (especially in men)

Common signs of bipolar disorder include the above listed symptoms of depression as well as these signs of mania:

  • Feelings of euphoria or extreme irritability
  • Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Increased energy
  • Rapid speech and racing thoughts
  • Impaired judgment and impulsivity
  • Hyperactivity
  • Anger or rage

Common signs of anxiety includes:

  • Excessive tension and worry
  • Feeling restless or jumpy
  • Irritability or feeling “on edge”
  • Racing heart or shortness of breath
  • Nausea, trembling, or dizziness
  • Muscle tension, headaches
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Insomnia

Having both a mental illness and an addiction is called having a dual diagnosis. It’s also sometimes referred to as having a co-occurring disorder. Because this is such a frequent occurrence, many treatment centers are becoming more and more prepared to treat both illnesses. In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) treatment should:

  • Provide special counseling that is designed for those with dual diagnosis.
  • Help you identify and develop your recovery goals.
  • Help you become involved with supported employment and other services.
  • Offer you a chance to learn more about drugs, alcohol, and addiction, as well as understand how mental illness can play a role in addiction.
  • Help you identify the role that drugs and alcohol play in your life. Knowing this can facilitate making changes and finding other ways to meet the needs that alcohol and drugs are attempting to meet.

If you do in fact have a mental illness as well as an addiction, it’s necessary that you receive treatment for both. Without treatment, the mental illness can worsen the addiction and the addiction can make the mental illness worse. Treating both simultaneously is necessary for optimal recovery. If this is the case for you, be sure to find a treatment center that can treat both illnesses. If you can’t find this, contact a mental health professional for assistance.


If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community
or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit.
You can find me on Twitter via @RecoveryRobert
Come and visit our blog at http://TranscendRecoveryCommunity.com/blog