Category Archives: Mental Health

Let’s Celebrate Mental Health Month this May!

Lonely

Mental health is something everyone should care about. Mental health problems are very common in the United States. One in five adults has experienced a mental health issue, and one in 10 has suffered a period of major depression. Suicide continues to be a leading cause of death in American adults, with over 40,000 people claiming their lives each year.

Since 1949, Mental Health America has observed the month of May as Mental Health Month. The goal of this month is to raise awareness of mental health problems and why everyone should care about them. Through education and awareness, Mental Health America and its affiliates hope to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

Link Between Addiction and Mental Health

Mental illness is strongly linked to other health problems such as substance abuse. Compared to the general population, people addicted to drugs and alcohol are roughly twice as likely to suffer from mood or anxiety conditions. Addiction also causes short- and long-term changes to the brain that can lead to paranoia, depression and anxiety.

In order to recover from a drug addiction, the mental disorder must be treated. This is why treatment centers like The River Source are familiar with dual diagnosis (when a person is living with a substance abuse disorder and a mental disorder). We see the whole person and offer a variety of tools, therapies and resources to help them recover.

What Does Mental Illness Feel Like?

The repeated use of drugs and alcohol can change the structure of the brain, leading to paranoia, anxiety and depression. However, this does not mean that addiction causes mental illness. Many people who suffer from mental illness use drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. That said, it’s important to recognize the signs of a mental health condition as soon as possible. Intervening with the proper medications and alternative therapies can prevent future drug and alcohol abuse.

Mental illness should never be kept to yourself. Here are some warning signs to pay attention to.

  • Withdrawal in social activities; isolation from others
  • An unusual drop in functioning at work, school or social activities
  • Problems with thinking, concentration or memory
  • Increased sensitivity to sounds, smells or touch
  • Loss of desire to participate in activities
  • Feeling disconnected from within
  • Illogical thinking; unusual behavior
  • Sleep or appetite changes; mood changes

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, find help immediately. Mental illness can exacerbate many other conditions, including substance abuse.

Why is it Important to Take Responsibility?

mother and daughter

Taking responsibility is a hard thing to do. It’s even harder when you’re struggling with a drug or alcohol problem. Pointing fingers is easier and directs attention away from you. While this may make you feel better for the time being, it doesn’t offer any benefits in the long run. In fact, it can damage relationships with others and delay recovery. 

As hard as it may be, taking responsibility is one of the best things you can do for yourself and others around you. Let’s discuss the importance of taking personal responsibility in addiction recovery and tips for doing so.

Why Responsibility Matters

Addiction has many symptoms, and denial is one of them. Addicts deny their actions through many behaviors, and one of them is placing blame on others. It’s common for addicts to blame their drug and alcohol use on factors such as stress, anxiety, friends, etc. Rather than accepting responsibility, they believe their actions are due to someone or something

The problem with pointing fingers is that addicts aren’t able to move forward in their recoveries. They basically get stuck. Recovery can only take place when an addict owns up to their mistakes and realizes what they need to do to make a difference.

Tips for Taking Responsibility

Once you accept responsibility for the things you have done wrong, you can progress through the recovery process. It might not feel good to know there are things you have done and said that have hurt others, but it is one of the most valuable steps in the healing process. In fact, it’s a great lesson for life in general!

To take responsibility, you must:

  • Admit that you have a problem. If you don’t acknowledge your problem, a treatment program likely won’t help. The recovery process starts with admitting the addiction.

  • Put in the effort. Recovery does not fall into one’s life. It requires a great deal of effort that you must be willing to put in. You won’t feel motivated to contribute this effort if you don’t think you have a problem.

  • Work on your self-esteem. It’s common for addicts to suffer from low self-esteem. Work on this in counseling by setting small goals and achieving them. This will help build up your self-esteem so you can take more control of your life.

  • Consider others. Avoid too much unstructured time, as this can lead to boredom. Instead, volunteer your time. Helping others helps develop accountability and responsibility, as other people are counting on you.

Are you ready to start your recovery? Call The River Source to speak with one of our admissions counselors. We have various programs to fit your needs and budget.

Self-Monitoring: Take Charge of Your Recovery

looking in mirror

Self-monitoring is an effective tool that can help recovering addicts change undesirable behaviors. It is a part of behavior therapy. The idea behind self-monitoring is that behaviors can be changed when the individual sees what they are doing. It’s similar to looking in the mirror, observing your behavior and setting relevant goals.

We all practice self-monitoring to some degree. Some people are better at it than others. High self-monitors are more aware of their environment and how they should be acting. Low self-monitors are less likely to conform to social norms because they are less aware of their environment.

Let’s learn more about self-monitoring and how it fits into recovery.

How Self-Monitoring Works in Recovery

Denial is a common symptom of addiction. You may convince yourself and others that you do not have a problem. Unfortunately, this only delays the treatment process. By practicing self-monitoring, ignoring the addiction becomes harder. It can even help with dry drunk syndrome, as it’s vital to identify negative attitudes and behaviors that can sabotage recovery. 

Self-monitoring is often used in conjunction with other therapies. Let’s say that you are working with a therapist and he or she asks you to role play a situation that happened in the home. By acting out the dilemma, the therapist gets a better idea of your problems.

A period of self-monitoring typically follows a reenactment. The purpose is for you to “look in the mirror” and better understand how your behaviors and actions affect others. When you acknowledge the problem and set goals, you can effectively work toward recovery.

What is Needed for Self-Monitoring to Work

In order for self-monitoring to work, you must be motivated to complete your recovery. This includes documenting all behaviors, thoughts and feelings. As you plan to work on your recovery, some of the best -self-monitoring tools include journal entries, photographs and audio files.  

The main drawback to self-monitoring is that it requires significant focus and motivation. If you aren’t prepared to give this, it could lead to anxiety. The type of person you are also influences how easy it will be to self-monitor your behavior. If you are a high self-monitor, the process will come more naturally than if you are a low self-monitor.

Conclusion

Self-monitoring is one aspect of behavior therapy that can be used successfully with other therapies. It is something that has helped many people take charge of their recoveries and it’s possible that it can help you, too.

5 Reasons Counseling is Needed After Detox

mental health

Detox is a big step in getting clean and sober, but it is not a “cure” for addiction. Once detox is complete, it’s important to seek counseling at an inpatient or outpatient drug rehab in Arizona. Some of the most common forms of counseling include individual therapy, group therapy, couples and family therapy, motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Let’s look deeper into five reasons why counseling plays an important role after detox.

1. Determine the root cause of addiction.

Most addictions are related to an underlying mental or emotional disorder such as anxiety, bipolar disorder or grief and loss. If this root cause is not addressed and understood, it will continue to complicate a healthy recovery. A large part of psychotherapy is to identify this pain, deal with it and find inner peace.

2. Define social, emotional and environmental triggers.

As you return to the real world, it’s inevitable that you will face temptation in some form. Whether it’s driving past an old hangout or seeing a familiar person, temptation is all around us. While you can’t weed out these triggers completely, you can be prepared. During therapy, you will work on defining potential triggers and how to deal with them.

3. Learn how to manage stress.

Untreated stress can lead to relapse. However, stress is a normal part of life. One of the best ways to manage stress is by practicing good self-care. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and avoiding caffeine. Additionally, you can work with your therapist to develop healthy outlets for stress such as yoga, journaling or meditation.

4. Modify negative thought patterns.

Addicts do a lot of negative thinking. When you stop using drugs and alcohol, this type of thinking doesn’t just stop. In order to free yourself from negative thought patterns, therapy is essential. During your sessions, you will practice looking at the world in a more positive light and overcoming negative self talk.

5. Rebuild strong relationships.

Addiction is an isolating disease, so it takes time to establish relationships. Plus, everyone deals with addiction in their own way. Your friends and family may respond in anger, denial, fear or happiness. It’s important to recognize and respect these emotions. Your counselor will also work with you to practice trust and forgiveness.

Detox is the first step in getting sober, but more is needed afterward. By preparing yourself for counseling and the growth to expect, you can get more from working with an addiction specialist.

How Aromatherapy Helps with Addiction Recovery

Essential oils

Aromatherapy is an alternative therapy that can reduce the symptoms and discomforts associated with certain conditions. All over the world, people have used plant materials and aromatic ingredients to boost their mental, physical and spiritual health. Amazingly, just one essential oil can contain hundreds of therapeutic compounds.

For those recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, aromatherapy can be an effective holistic treatment. Let’s learn more about this centuries-old therapy and the best oils to use for recovery.

How Aromatherapy Can Benefit Your Recovery

There are two ways for the oils to enter your body. (There is a third – ingestion – but we do not recommend this for the general public.)

  • Apply to skin. Essential oils can be applied to the skin for various purposes. The compounds in the oils are absorbed into the body to improve flexibility, increase circulation and loosen stiff joints. In recovery, this can help your body relax. Evidence suggests that oils may help move toxins out of the body as well.

  • Inhaled. Another way for essential oils to enter the body is through inhalation. By breathing in the oils, the olfactory system and limbic systems are interacted with. This connection with the “emotional brain” is why smells often trigger emotions. In recovery, aromatherapy can impact your mood in a positive way.

Even though essential oils are natural does not automatically make them safe. There are still precautions to take. For example, when applying to skin, it’s recommended to use a carrier oil. This prevents irritation. Always follow the recommendations on the label, and talk to your doctor for approval.

Best Essential Oils for Addiction Recovery

  • Lavender oil is one of the most versatile oils. It promotes calmness and relaxation and is often used at bedtime.

  • Ylang ylang is another essential oil that contributes to feelings of peace and relaxation.

  • Lemon oil is refreshing and can boost your mood. Diffusing lemon in the mornings can jumpstart your day.

  • Rosemary comes in handy when you need a mental boost. It’s also believed to help with feelings of depression.

  • Peppermint oil is helpful for people with migraines, nausea and other mild discomforts. These symptoms are common in withdrawal.

  • Clary sage promotes sleep and reduces anxiety.

Do you think that aromatherapy could complement your addiction recovery plan? Talk to your doctor about the safest and most effective ways to implement essential oils into your life.

Best Hobbies for Mental Health

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Planting

Hobbies are important for everyone. They are especially important for teens and adults going through addiction recovery. Unfortunately, many newly recovering addicts aren’t sure what types of activities they enjoy. Addiction tends to strip people of who they are, and it can take time to find the things that were once loved.

Let’s explore the importance of having a pastime as you enter your first months of recovery, as well as the best ones for boosting mental health.

Why Hobbies are Important

Having enjoyable activities built into your schedule is important for several reasons. First, it gives you something to focus your energy on. Whether you’re having a good or bad day, you can invest your emotions into something that brings you happiness. Boredom puts you at a higher risk for relapse, so burying yourself in the things you love can prevent this.

Second, activities keep you motivated. Rather than dreading what’s ahead of you, a hobby gets you up and out of bed in the mornings. Plus, you can get more done in your day and feel productive as a result. If you know you have to volunteer at the homeless shelter in the morning or help take care of your neighbor’s dog in the afternoon, it makes you more accountable.

Lastly, a pastime exercises the brain. It gets things moving and flowing so that you can think healthier and approach stress in a better way. Negative thinking is a big part of addiction, and it’s something to work on during your recovery. However, the only way to be successful is by attending your counseling sessions and actively working at how you approach various situations.

Best Hobbies for Boosting Mental Health

  • Meditation. Meditation doesn’t take long to show its effects. By practicing meditation daily, you can create happiness, learn about yourself and decrease stress.

  • Gardening. There’s a reason why gardening is a great activity. Not only is it something to do, but it gets you outdoors and taking care of living things. It’s wonderful to watch the fruits of your labor grow!

  • Dance. If you don’t feel comfortable joining a dance class, dance at home. Turn on your favorite music and start moving – it’s bound to improve your mood!

  • Mind-body exercises. Routines like tai chi, yoga and qigong exercise the mind and body. They are relaxing, spiritual and connect the body as a whole.

  • Walking/hiking/running. One of the best parts about walking or running is that you can take a scenic route. As you partake in this hobby, be sure to take in the sights and sounds of this beautiful world.

  • Liberal arts. Activities like art, photography and writing exercise your creative side. In fact, these hobbies have proven so successful, art therapy, music therapy, drama therapy and others have soared in popularity.

As you or a loved one completes treatment, it’s a great idea to choose a few activities to participate in. These hobbies offer more benefits than most people realize. They can also connect recovering addicts to like-minded individuals, which can be the start of a beautiful friendship!

At The River Source, we help our patients develop their own interests during their time with us. To start your recovery, call us today.