When a person is depressed, it can be tempting to relieve depressive symptoms by turning to drugs and/or alcohol. An estimated one-third of people with clinical depression engage in substance abuse as a form of self-medication to relieve feelings of hopelessness, low-self-opinion, and despair.

Although these chemical intoxicants may temporarily relieve symptoms, they can also make depression more severe and trigger or intensify the negative feelings and self-destructive behaviors associated with depression.

For those struggling with depression who feel there is no end in sight, drugs and alcohol may sometimes appear to be an easy solution to their problems. These substances can temporarily subside any emotional pain and bring about a sense of happiness. However, these substances can become addictive. The more you consume, the more dependent your body will become on their effects. Over time, substance abuse can exacerbate symptoms of depression as well as lead to health problems like brain damage down the road.

The following are the different ways in overcoming drug addiction and substance abuse.

Bringing back motivation

1. Learn about addiction

Education can help families escape the blame game. Rather than believing that the person’s addiction stems from weakness, willfulness or stubbornness, it might be helpful to understand how it actually stems from changes within the brain. Understanding that addiction is not a choice might help you let go of anger and resentment you may be feeling about your loved one’s addiction.

That’s the sort of knowledge that can help boost a family’s sense of hope. With each advancement, you can feel more confident that the addiction can be treated and conquered.

2. Make decision to quit

Making a decision is consciously evaluating an action to be implemented in future. So, if you have decided to quit over your habit of usage of drug and alcohol, you should consciously make a decision to get rid of this habit. If you are occasionally involving in such activities, it may lead to substance abuse or drug addiction that may affect your health badly.

It is better to evaluate your decision and implement in your daily life by start setting small targets.

3. Think about change

Keep track of your drug use, including when and how much you use. This will give you a better sense of the role the addiction is playing in your life. List the pros and cons of quitting, as well as the costs and benefits of continuing your drug use.

Consider the things that are important to you, such as your partner, your kids, your pets, your career, or your health. How does your drug use affect those things? Ask someone you trust about their feelings on your drug use.

4. Take help from friends and family

Don’t try to go it alone, reach out for support. Whatever treatment approach you choose, having positive influences and a solid support system is essential. The more people you can turn to for encouragement, guidance, and a listening ear, the better your chances for recovery.

Having the support of friends and family members is an invaluable asset in recovery. If you’re reluctant to turn to your loved ones because you’ve let them down before, consider going to relationship counseling or family therapy.

5. Remind yourself that addiction does not make you bad or weak

If you fall back into old patterns (backslide) a bit, talk to an adult as soon as possible. There’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it’s important to get help soon so that all of the hard work you put into your recovery is not lost.

6. Stay in personal joy

Managing expectations is a little easier when individuals are responsible for their own bliss. That means every member of a recovering family needs to take time to do something that’s relaxing and fulfilling. Activities like playing an instrument, taking photographs, playing with children, gardening, cooking, etc.

Stay in personal joy

7. Get regular exercise

Starting off the day with a brisk run or ending the workday with a few laps in the pool may not be every family’s idea of a great time, but these exercise sessions could deliver considerable benefits. Exercise has the proven ability to reduce stress and depression. In fact, a 2014 Stress in America survey found that around 43% of adults use exercise to cope with stress.

Stretching muscles and pushing tendons prompts the brain to release so-called pleasure chemicals, including dopamine and oxytocin. High-energy exercise sessions can help families vent their worry and stress in healthy ways that don’t harm others and don’t cause lasting scars. Instead of yelling, they can run. Instead of pacing, they can do yoga. It’s a wonderful way to stay on track with healing and it’s relatively easy to get started.

8. Adhere to sleep wake schedule

Some of the more dangerous addictive behaviors often occur in the middle of the night. People with addictions can meet dealers, overdose, stumble home from parties or get into other situations that family members have to deal with. It’s no surprise, then, that some families in the recovery process struggle with sleep. Parts of their brains are ready and waiting for the next night crisis to arise.

Regular sleep loss can make the recovery process more difficult. People need sleep to feel their best, and families can better assist with recovery when they are physically and mentally refreshed. Creating a regular sleep schedule with fixed bedtimes and wake times can help prime the brain for deep sleep.

9. Educate and advocate

There is an incredible amount of misinformation about addiction. To some people, addiction is a form of weakness, and they have no problem sharing their views, even in casual conversation. To others, addiction is something family members should either fix or ignore. Even when a family attempts to help their loved one, they are sometimes judged or labeled as enabling.

Family members often feel harsh words or careless statements most acutely when they come from friends, co-workers and even distant relatives they see on a regular basis. It’s hard to stay positive in an environment like this, but families can be part of the change.

Advocating on behalf of people struggling with addiction is brave. It’s also a vital, empowering and health-affirming thing to do. Rather than staying silent and fuming, families that speak up are doing something to make things better. Those conversations could not have a wonderful impact on a family’s spirits, but also positively impact their communities.

10. Set purposeful goals

You can support your drug treatment and protect yourself from relapse by having activities and interests that provide meaning to your life. It’s important to be involved in things that you enjoy, that make you feel needed, and add meaning to your life. When your life is filled with rewarding activities and a sense of purpose, your addiction will lose its appeal.

Having goals to work toward and something to look forward to can be powerful antidotes to drug addiction. It doesn’t matter what the goals are, just that they are important to you.

11. Look after your health

Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits help you keep your energy levels up and your stress levels down. The more you can stay healthy and feel good, the easier it will be to stay sober.

12. Be realistic

Expect that there will be roadblocks, resistance, and possibly relapse. But also expect that rehabilitation and recovery are possible with the right steps forward. Find a balanced perspective so you can stay encouraged and positive even amidst the inevitable challenges to come.

13. Don’t wait to take supportive actions

Denial can happen for the addict and for the family and friends involved too. It can be a lot easier to put off actions and conversations, but that means missed opportunities for early healing and greater risks of physical, psychological, emotional, and life damage. The diverse effects of drug addiction can be devastating.

Even if the person you care about is resistant and, so far, blocking your attempts to connect them with real help, you can always call a treatment center for advice.

Talk it out

14. Tell your decision to friends

True friends will respect your decision. This might mean that you need to find a new group of friends who will be 100% supportive. Unless everyone decides to kick their drug habit at once, you probably won’t be able to hang out with the friends you did drugs with.

Tell your decision to friends

15. Accept invitations without having inclination toward using drugs

Going to the movies is probably safe, but you may want to skip a Friday night party until you’re feeling more secure. Plan activities that don’t involve drugs. Go to the movies, try bowling, or take an art class with a friend.

16. Connect with understanding peers

One of the most important things you can do to stay sober is to find friends who are sober, too. While it may be hard to cut off unhealthy relationships of your past, hanging out with people who support your need to stay clean will pay off in the long run.

17. Avoid bars and clubs

Even if you don’t have a problem with alcohol, drinking lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment, which can easily lead to a relapse. Drugs are often readily available and the temptation to use can be overpowering. Also avoid any other environments and situations that you associate with drug use.

Enhancing essential skills

18. Enhanced interpersonal skills

A person may push well-meaning family and friends away as they descend deeper into an addiction. Beyond this, your relationships may falter under the weight of the drugs or alcohol, creating tensions between you and a spouse, parent, child, friend or coworker. The caliber of your relationships and support systems can improve by learning how to establish and honor boundaries, how to react to and around these people in social situations, how to cultivate healthful ways of expressing needs and how to understand the role of healthy intimacy.

Within this, communication skills training can aid you in succinctly conveying your needs and understanding others, relating your feelings and thoughts honestly, listening more effectively and understanding the other party’s view. When you’re struggling with thoughts of drug use, you need to be able to reach out to those who care and communicate the danger you’re facing and articulate that you need help.

19. Work on refusal skills

This may seem obvious to some, and it is a very basic task, however, it is a powerful one. You cannot always shield yourself from cues and temptations. Because of this, you need to develop the confidence to be able to assert yourself and articulate the answer “no.” It may sound silly, but practicing different ways of saying “no” to drugs or alcohol, out loud, and even in the mirror, may be helpful.

20. Work on emotional regulation skills

Negative emotions can wreak havoc on a person, creating an imbalanced state that makes them more susceptible to drugs or alcohol. Emotional reactions are present in most situations and are something you cannot avoid; due to this, you must learn to moderate and control your reactions, being mindful to squash the negative and cultivate positive ones. However, when negative emotions do arise, you need to learn how to process them and let them go, so you can move forward. 

21. Focus on anger management

Anger is an intense emotion, one that influences not only your mind but also your physiological state. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature may rise, fueling your awareness that you’re feeling out of control. Collectively, this state may lead you to consider managing these feelings by substance use.

Anger management will help you to articulate your anger in a more assertive way that is not aggressive or confrontational, thus offering you a greater opportunity to incite change and lessen the instance of a confrontation. You may also be directed towards other, healthier outlets, such as taking time away from the conversation or immersing yourself in physical activity to calm your mind and release tension.

anger management

22. Avoid enabling behaviors

Be honest about your own feelings, needs, and boundaries. And be honest about what you expect from and hope for your loved one. Enabling involves sheltering the addicted individual from the consequences of their substance abuse. It might seem like the right thing to pick up the pieces of their life, their finances, their daily needs, and their responsibilities, but the truth is that enabling delays recovery and the rest of their life.

23. Manage expectations

When an addicted person enters treatment and the family embarks on the recovery journey, the sense of hope everyone feels can be exciting. Finally, the addiction issue is being addressed. Finally, things will get better.

Unfortunately, it can take a long time for the behaviors and patterns associated with addiction to really change. The person may hold on to old habits or become frustrated with the recovery process. Sometimes, that slow shift leads to disappointment.

It’s also important to manage expectations for yourself and other family members. It takes time and effort for relationships to heal. Families in early recovery may make mistakes and they may not be their ideal selves, but they can still enjoy their time together and actively support one another.

24. Look for new hobbies

Staying busy is the best way to keep your mind off your desire to use. Not only that, but establishing an interesting and rewarding hobby can also help you find joy and purpose in your life, and replace your old unhealthy habits with new drug-free activities.

25. Practice meditation

Mindfulness exercises have been proven to relieve stress and anxiety, as well as to decrease blood pressure and improve immune function. Developing a meditation practice can help you to find calm and peace, and quiet your mind in an otherwise turbulent time.

26. Volunteer yourself

Finding a worthy cause to support while in recovery allows you to help others while helping yourself. Giving back to the community can help you discover a sense of purpose, build healthy connections and friendships, and feel good about the contributions you’re making to society.

27. Spiritual practices

Spirituality or religiousness has been shown to offer great benefit to those who practice these elements both during and after substance abuse treatment. Not only are these things sources of hope, inspiration, and empowerment, but they allow you a means by which to keep yourself accountable. Another beneficial aspect is that in many cases these practices will lead you to a supportive group, whether it be a church or other house of worship, a bible study or a faith-based support group.

Spiritual practices

28. Use caution with prescription drugs

If you were addicted to a prescription drug, such as an opioid painkiller, you may need to talk to your doctor about finding alternate ways to manage pain. Regardless of the drug you experienced problems with, it’s important to stay away from prescription drugs with the potential for abuse or use only when necessary and with extreme caution. Drugs with a high abuse potential include painkillers, sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety medication.

29. Urge surfing

Many people try to cope with their urges by toughing it out. But some cravings are too strong to ignore. When this happens, it can be useful to stay with the urge until it passes. This technique is called urge surfing. Imagine yourself as a surfer who will ride the wave of your drug craving, staying on top of it until it crests, breaks, and turns into less powerful, foamy surf. When you ride out the craving, without trying to battle, judge, or ignore it, you’ll see that it passes more quickly than you’d think.

Behavioral therapies

30. Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations in which they are most likely to use drugs.

31. Multidimensional family therapy

Multidimensional family therapy developed for adolescents with drug abuse problems as well as their families which addresses a range of influences on their drug abuse patterns and is designed to improve overall family functioning.

32. Motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing which makes the most of people’s readiness to change their behavior and enter treatment.

33. Contingency management

Motivational incentives (contingency management), which uses positive reinforcement to encourage abstinence from drugs.

Residential treatment

34. Therapeutic communities

Therapeutic communities which are highly structured programs in which patients remain at a residence, typically for 6 to 12 months. The entire community, including treatment staff and those in recovery, act as key agents of change, influencing the patient’s attitudes, understanding, and behaviors associated with drug use. 

35. Short-term residential treatment

It typically focuses on detoxification as well as providing initial intensive counseling and preparation for treatment in a community-based setting.

36. Recovery housing

It provides supervised, short-term housing for patients, often following other types of inpatient or residential treatment. Recovery housing can help people make the transition to an independent life for example, helping them learn how to manage finances or seek employment, as well as connecting them to support services in the community.

Summary

In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to. Fortunately, researchers know more than ever about how drugs affect the brain and have found treatments that can help people recover from drug addiction and lead productive lives. Psychotherapy and psychological interventions help in overcoming substance abuse and drug addiction.

Moving forward with Psychotherapy

Fortunately, Ahealo.com offers a global ePsychotherapy platform that allows clients to book an online anonymous private appointment with a broad skill range of psychotherapists at an affordable cost and desired schedule.

ahealo.com

Alternatively, if you need to seek psychotherapy, be sure to check out ahealo.com. Ahealo is an online psychotherapy platform with a diverse range of psychotherapists for many different fields of mental challenges. Ahealo provides ePsychotherapy at an affordable price, confidential, convenient (through a web page 1-1 private video call), and at your comfortable schedule. 

With these options, we believe your chronic pain and depression issues can be resolved soon.

Stay well.

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