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The Road to Recovery: 5 Lifestyle Changes You Need to Make to Overcome Addiction
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Addiction is a challenging medical condition to grapple with, and it can span a variety of substances and habits (e.g. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, sexual practices, and so on). The recovery process entails a broad set of factors and is not simply limited to medications or finite spans of rehab treatments. Rather, some essential lifestyle changes can and should be made in order to ensure that progress is made and that recovery lasts. Let’s take a look at key lifestyle changes one can make.

Searching for Alternatives

For some, using alcohol or marijuana may be a coping mechanism for engaging with stress. Dealing with the stress of life is a challenge all people face (to varying degrees), and it’s important to come up with healthy coping mechanisms. For instance, exercise, meditative practices (e.g. “mindfulness”), and social activities (charity, volunteering, involvement in community groups) can be positive alternatives.

Avoiding Triggers

If you know that walking through a certain part of town will tempt you (e.g. crossing paths with your ex-dealer, a foray through a row of local bars, a betting track), then make sure that you plan your travel accordingly and make an effort to avoid those triggering locations. The brain has been primedto seek out certain rewards; it associates particular places, sights, sounds, and other sense-associated cues with a psychological reward (the dopamine release that comes with satisfying an addiction or using a particular substance). Breaking this pathway takes time.

Physical Self Care

Physical self care forms an integral bedrock for strong health in general, and the case is no different for those working to overcome addiction. Mood is impacted by things like diet, exercise, and healthy sleep habits. Patients with addiction will often note returning to their more deleterious habits during periods of stress and exhaustion. Ensuring optimal health in this regard can help avoid a shift to a vulnerable state.

Treating Coexisting Mental Health Disorders

Impairments from a coexisting mental health condition can act as a barrier to effective treatment. Ensure that your lifestyle decisions optimize mental wealth, and it’ll go a long way towards effectively allowing you to deal with addiction head on. For instance, Psychiatrists who work with patients dealing with dual diagnoses (i.e. Schizophrenia and Heroin Use Disorder) often emphasize that a patient should be cognitively sound and possess good insight in order for addiction-targeted treatment to make an impact. If they have poor insight and judgement (e.g. they don’t understand that they have a problem, they are actively hallucinating or experiencing delusions, they are overwhelmed by depression or anxiety, etc.), then it will be incredibly difficult for their addiction treatment process to continue. Modalities such as therapy, group sessions like Alcoholics Anonymous, and various activities (work, education, and so on) can be effective tools for patients to get back on their feet, but they depend on a relatively stable base. Dealing with the worst of acute psychosis and mood disorders is therefore essential.

Family Therapy & Good Company

The overwhelming and broad nature of addictions means that tackling a problem alone is often challenging. Thus, the inclusion of family therapy is a practice to help get families involved. This practice is implemented at institutions like Utah Addiction Rehabilitation Services. They can act as a support system, know what problematic behaviors should be monitored, and can help avoid compromising situations. For example, if you have a history of alcohol addiction, they can be more conscientious and avoid serving alcoholic beverages at family dinners or ordering wine at restaurants. Moreover, if your addiction has a social component (as is the case with many drugs), your social circles should avoid individuals who will drag you down.

The road to recovery is a formidable one, but help is out there. Reach out to experienced clinicians and experts for the aid you need to overcome addiction. Family members, friends, and support groups can be an essential component of the healing process. For lasting change, making the proper lifestyle changes can make a world of difference.

By Hannah Whittenly
All rights reserved. Any reproducing of this article must have the author name and all the links intact.


Biography: Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

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