There are a million reasons to get sober, whether you quit drugs and alcohol to boost your mental health or for some other purpose, your brain and your emotions are bound to benefit. In this article we’ll explore the connection between mental health and substance use recovery, and detail some reasons you’ll want to pursue sobriety.
How are mental health and sobriety connected?
There is a strong link between mental illness and substance use disorders. In fact, according to the journal Social Work in Public Health, around half of those who struggle with addiction have co-occurring mental health disorders and vice versa. It follows, then, that working to address either issue can help a person overcome the other.
This can lead to questions like, “do mental health struggles cause addiction?” and “does substance use cause mental illness?” There is a need for more research in this area, but science suggests that one does not directly cause the other. However, the risk factors for each often overlap.
Some common factors that contribute to both substance use and mental illness include:
- Stressful life situations;
- Exposure to trauma (especially in childhood);
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Lack of family support;
- Unhealthy relationships;
- Poor coping skills.
Moreover, both mental health disorders and addiction can be influenced by a family history of either condition.
The connection between mental wellbeing and substance use is evident, but why are they so intertwined? The answer lies in how each impacts the brain.
Substance use disorders rewire brain chemistry, so the body craves more of a substance and is desensitized to its negative effects. In mental illness, a person often lacks sufficient “feel good” brain chemicals, like serotonin and dopamine.
What are mental health benefits for addiction recovery?
You won’t live in regret: It can be a near impossible temptation to fight, but when you break the cycle of addiction you won’t have that shame that lingers after you’ve used substances. Recovery shatters that repetitive feeling of guilt, and keeps you from falling into the same old patterns. Shame and guilt can be a huge hindrance to mental wellbeing, so nipping these feelings in the bud can help you feel good about yourself again.
You’ll grow in confidence: A major contributor to mental illness is poor self-perception. Having low self-worth can be an everyday battle that affects all areas of your life, from how you perform at work to how you interact with new people. An addiction can greatly exacerbate self-image, making you feel uncomfortable in your own skin and leave you with a host of negative physical symptoms. Reverse this insecurity by working towards recovery. When you feel good about yourself your mental health will flourish.
You’ll have easy access to professional help: When you start getting serious about addressing your addiction, you’ll quickly be connected to a slew of professionals who have the expertise you need to heal the whole person. If you have concerns about comorbid mental health and substance use disorders, you can get a formal diagnosis, medication management and other services to help you recover completely.
You’ll have social support: There’s no denying the fact that addiction burns bridges. When drugs and alcohol are in control, relationships suffer and it can be extremely difficult to repair them. When you make the commitment to get sober and make good on your word, that all changes. The benefits you receive from spending time with people, like a dopamine boost, or improved cognitive functioning, return when you’re clean.
You’ll minimize stress: Mental health struggles are exacerbated by stress, and getting sober can reduce some major triggers to stress. Consider that you won’t have as many financial concerns, you’ll have better bonds with friends and family, you will feel better physically and you won’t be worried about legal ramifications. Decreasing stress can also help you to avoid relapse, according to Current Psychiatry Reports.
You’ll restore purpose to your life: Addiction, anxiety and depression can leave you fretting about the future or the past. Ruminating on mistakes you’ve made and relationships that have been damaged or thinking about a less than bright future ahead of you can consume your days. When you pursue recovery, you can start living in the present moment- and enjoying it, too. Instead of always wishing you were someone or somewhere else, you’ll feel content and happy in your own skin.
Take control of your health and happiness today
When you embark on a journey toward recovery from substance use, you can be sure that your mental health will soon take a turn for the better. There are endless potential benefits, but perhaps the most important is that you’ll feel like yourself again. You’ll be in control of decisions again and have fun living life.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of all the benefits mental health and sobriety have to offer, you’ll want to check out Rehab After Work. At Rehab After Work you’ll find the assistance you need in addressing substance use disorders and mental health disorders. Call 610-644-6464 to learn more.