How Can I Help An Alcoholic Or Addict Parent? by Chaye McIntosh

(image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash)

When a loved one suffers from addiction, it can have just as much of an influence on your life as it does on the addicts. This is especially true if the loved one is a parent or a close relative. Children of addicts within a family are undoubtedly the most affected by addiction. This is particularly true if the addict’s children are still growing up. Unless you’re young or elderly, it’s difficult to cope as the child of an addict. Addiction has the potential to destroy a family. A parent is a glue that ties a family together; if they are addicts, the children must mature and become the house’s adults. This can have a significant negative impact on children’s mental health.

What are the Feelings of an Addict’s Children?

Children look up to their parents as role models. Parents who become addicted to drugs or alcohol, on the other hand, are only concerned with their addiction. Understanding that addiction is an illness is crucial for children of addicts. This is because long-term substance misuse changes the chemistry of an addict’s brain. As a result of this, an addict’s brain is rewired over time as a result of their substance misuse. As a result of their addiction, addicted parents can exhibit poor judgment and decision-making, a lack of self-control, and deviant behaviour choices.

What Can Children Do to Assist Parents Who are Battling Addiction?

Drug and alcohol addiction can have both short- and long-term impacts. Substance misuse can disrupt even the calmest and most loving relationships. When family members quarrel, it becomes commonplace. The level of trust begins to erode. If a relative who consumes illegal substances acts angrily or hides their condition in secrecy, relatives may grow concerned. 

Marriages may disintegrate as a result of addiction-related changes. Communication gets more difficult as displeasure is highlighted. In addition, children often take a step back from their parents to separate themselves from them. Family members may observe their loved ones endure the negative effects of drugs or erupt into rages while inebriated. Others may notice that their relatives have lost weight and are no longer recognizable.

How Can I Help an Alcoholic Parent?

Parents are blessings, so if they are addicts you can try to help them recover- but ultimately they must accept help. Here are some of the things you can do to help them. 

  1. Be Supportive

A person suffering from drug or alcohol addiction needs the support and love of family members. They need someone who will understand what they are going through. As a child, one should make sure that you are fully aware of the supportive needs of your parent- but equally you can’t fix everything.

  1. Talk to them

Talking helps a lot. An addict thinks that everyone is trying to distance themselves from them and if your parent feels like someone is trying to talk to them- they may appreciate it. Children of addicts should make sure to spend some time with their parents, where possible and if able. It can be very difficult to see your parent struggling with addiction and can be harmful also, so you will need to weigh this up. 

  1. Encourage Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment is the only way to treat drug and alcohol addiction. Children of addicts should be aware that to help their parents they should suggest an addiction treatment program near them. Here are some addiction treatments that you can recommend to your parents:

Telehealth addiction treatment is a new form of treatment where a patient can receive treatment while being in their own homes. So if your parent avoids or doesn’t want to leave home for addiction treatment, suggest they get Telehealth addiction treatment.

  1. Avoid Fighting with them

There is no need to fight with your parents. They are already going through a very tough time. Try to avoid any sort of confrontation with them.

  1. Make them Feel Wanted

Addicts need their children to make them feel wanted. Spend some time with them. Take them out and have a nice dinner every once in a while. 

In The End…

An addict’s brain is rewired, and quitting addictive substances is more difficult than it appears. When a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, his or her brain becomes fully reliant on them to function. As a result, when addicts cut back or stop taking opioids, they may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Because they are terrified of experiencing withdrawal symptoms, addicts are sometimes discouraged from attempting sobriety.

As much as you may despise your parent for acting the way they do and refusing to seek treatment, you must respect their decision. Simply take a deep breath and recognise that your parent is afflicted with an ailment over which they have no control.

This article was written by Chaye McIntosh. You can see more about treatment here

Unbroken- The Inspirational Madeleine Black, The Courage Cultivator. How She Learnt To Heal After Sexual Violence.

(image: Madeleine Black)

Trigger warning: discusses sexual violence and mental illness.

I have known about the incredible speaker, author and advocate Madeleine Black for a while, through my Dad Mike. She is an outstanding and powerful advocate of courage after adversity, of hope after despair and of resilience despite intense pain. For me personally, coming from the same community, I feel that Madeleine is a shining light to so many- as sexual violence has historically not been talked about openly.

Please note the rest of the article will discuss Madeleine’s journey with sexual violence and how she was able to move forward.

Used, Beaten but Never Broken.

I remember wishing they would kill me to make it all end.”- Madeleine Black 

It takes courage to speak the unspeakable. But for many years, Madeleine Black felt too afraid and too ashamed to utter a word of what happened to her. Violently attacked at the age of thirteen, her story is one of pain – but also of healing, resilience and forgiveness. Madeleine uses her personal and moving story to show us that it’s not the events in our life that define us, but by how we choose to reclaim our lives after them. How we become unbroken.

Madeleine grew up in Glasgow, Scotland and London into a loving Jewish family. At the age of 13, she went out with a friend in a group to a cafe in London, drank alcohol for the first time (like a normal teenager) and met two male international students that night, acquaintances of her friend. They took advantage of her age and vulnerability. Instead of dropping her home safely as she was drunk and could not consent, they carried her to a nearby flat and violently gang raped her, leaving her with terrible injuries. Her friend was sleeping in the next room. Madeleine talks of seeing herself floating above her body as if she wasn’t really there – dissociation as a trauma response. She was told by one of the men that if she told anyone about the gang rape, they would come and kill her.

Madeleine has said, ‘For many years after that night, my memories of what happened after he held the blade to my throat and threatened my life were fragmented… difficult to piece together. It was too extreme, too violent for me to understand.’

Madeleine struggled with her mental health following this trauma at such a young age. Living in a state of shock and self-loathing, it took her years of struggle to confront the buried memories of that first attack and begin to undo the damage it wrought, as men continued to take advantage of her fragility in the worst possible way. Madeleine was raped three more times before the age of eighteen, experiencing more trauma in her life than most ever will. Due to the aftermath of the trauma she faced, Madeleine used drugs and alcohol to numb the pain and developed phobias and an eating disorder. While she couldn’t remember lots of details of that night, it left her feeling ‘worthless, dirty and contaminated’. She had a suicide attempt by overdose, hoping to end her life and had her stomach pumped. She was then admitted to a childrens psychiatric unit struggling with suicidal depression and self harm.

After a few years, she eventually found the courage to tell her parents what really happened to her. After growing up with burdens no teenager should ever have to shoulder, she found the heart to carry out the best revenge plan of all: leading a fulfilling and happy life. She met her husband, a loving and kind man, who helped her to heal from the traumas she faced with men and they are happily married and have children together, three daughters. Madeleine learnt through this that she is loveable and she is loved.

(image: Forgiveness Project/Madeleine black)

However, piecing her life back together was long and painful. Forgiveness was the key for her to move forward- not to forgive the act of rape- but to understand what led the rapist to do so. It takes a real desire to understand those who have done us so much harm. It is the ultimate act of courage.

Madeleine has said,

‘I want to end the shame, stigma and silence surrounding sexual violence enabling others to find their voice, whatever their story is.  I want people to know that it’s not what happens to us that is important but what we do with it.  I will show how changing my mindset tapped into my resilience and transformed my life, making people question their own thinking and encouraging them to see that there are always choices to make, and if we choose to, we can get past anything that happens to us in life both professionally and in our personal life. I wants to encourage others to live their life courageously too; but ultimately, I want to inspire hope and show people that we are all so much stronger than we think we are.’

(image: Madeleine Black)

Madeleine found that since the attack, she had been burying memories and started to experience flashbacks when her daughter turned 13, the same age as when she was raped. This can be a part of PTSD- post traumatic stress disorder. She learnt that she must let go of her anger and make peace with her past, as her personal journey.

In her debut book Unbroken, Madeleine tells her deeply moving and empowering story, as she discovers that life is about how a person chooses to recover from adversity. We are not defined by what knocks us down – we are defined by how we get back up. She also hosts the Unbroken podcast where she has guests sharing their own stories of hope and courage.

Madeleine is also a TEDX Speaker sharing her journey to end the shame around sexual violence , works with the Global Resilience project and is the Patron for Say Women which helps rape and abuse survivors. She currently also works as a psychotherapist.

(image: Madeleine Black)

I will leave you with Madeleine’s words:

‘I am not my body or the things that were done to me. I am so much more than the sum of one night’

Thank you to Madeleine for giving me a copy of her book Unbroken to read and for all you do. You can get your copy here

4 Types of Alcohol Addiction Services You Can Turn To For Help by Rachelle Wilber

(image: free photo website)

Please note: this article relates to facilities and costs in Canada only.

For anyone struggling with alcohol addiction, many different types of addiction services can help. There are inpatient and outpatient programs and 12-step programs, and support groups.

Here are the four main types of alcohol addiction services and what they offer:

Inpatient alcohol addiction services

Inpatient services are typically offered in a hospital or rehabilitation center. Patients live at the facility and receive 24-hour care. This type of service is ideal for severe addictions or those struggling with other mental health issues.

Inpatient services offer a variety of therapies, including individual and group counseling, educational classes, and 12-step programs. Patients also have access to medical care and support 24 hours a day.

The average stay in an inpatient facility is 28 days, but some programs offer longer stays.

Cost: Ranging from $500 to $1500 per day. Many insurance companies will cover some or all of the cost of treatment.

Outpatient alcohol addiction services

The services are offered in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, but patients do not live at the facility. They visit for treatment day or evening, like a Male Alcohol Addiction Treatment Program. This service is ideal for those with mild to moderate addiction or who do not need 24-hour care.

Outpatient services offer a variety of therapies, including individual and group counseling, educational classes, and 12-step programs.

The average length of treatment is three months, but it can vary depending on the patient’s needs.

Cost: Outpatient alcohol addiction services typically cost between $50 and $200 per week.

12-step programs

12-step programs are self-help groups that offer support and guidance to those struggling with addiction. There are many different 12-step programs, but they all follow the same basic steps.

Admitting you have a problem and you need help is the first step.

The second step is finding a sponsor or someone who has been sober for a long time and can help guide you through the program.

The third step is making amends to those you have hurt due to your addiction.

The fourth step is maintaining your sobriety day by day.

12-step programs are free and open to anyone who wants to join them.

Cost: There is no cost associated with 12-step programs.

Support groups

Support groups are similar to 12-step programs, but they do not follow the same structure or steps. They are simply a place where people can come together to share their experiences and offer support to one another.

Support groups have no charges and are open to anyone who wants to join them.

There are many different alcohol addiction services available to those who need help. Inpatient and outpatient programs offer a variety of therapies, while 12-step programs and support groups provide support and guidance. Choose the service you or your loved one can benefit from and get started on the road to recovery today.

This article was written by freelance writer Rachelle Wilber and contains affiliate links.

Our Blog is 6 Years Old Today!

On the 1st March 2016, I started this blog as a way to provide therapy for myself- as I was going through panic attacks, (caused by trauma due to a hospitalisation for a bipolar manic episode). Since then I have had several years of EMDR trauma therapy and my life changed so much too- I met my husband, we got married and moved to our first home. I also found a career I love after many twists and turns due to mental illness. Life is never plain sailing especially with mental health and I still live with panic attacks/ social anxiety at times but am learning to manage them.

The blog has turned into a book Bring me to Light (with Trigger), writing for Metro.co.uk, Glamour, the Telegraph, Happiful, Rethink Mental Illness, Mind and other incredible organisations, I have partnered with large and small brands, charities, businesses, writers to create content that battles stigma on mental health. We have been awarded as a Top 10 UK blog by Vuelio since 2018 (thank you) and I love to share my story to help others and educate people about bipolar, anxiety, panic disorders, psychosis, mania and mental health in the workplace (amongst other mental health topics!). I have also recorded podcasts – most recently with Dr Rosena Allin Khan MP, shadow minister for mental health, Daniel Rosenberg at SodsPod and was also interviewed by Penny Power OBE with my Dad Mike (who is a mental health speaker).

When I started this blog I had no idea where it would lead and its been the most special, humbling and amazing journey- with so much more to do so watch this space!. I really want to help more people this year and also have a childrens book I would love to get out there to help kids with anxiety.

As always, I want to thank all my contributors and brands (sponsored or not), as well as the digital agencies and freelance writers who provide content too. I hope to keep it going for the next year at least! Let me know what you want to see.

This year heres what we have been talking about (and big thank you to everyone. If it doesnt have a name by it, content has been written by a writer):



How social distancing is affecting social anxiety in the pandemic- Anita Ginsburg

Book Review of the Smart Girls Handbook by Scarlett Clark- me (Eleanor)

Being kind to myself, social anxiety and life in recovery- me (Eleanor)

Self care ideas for positive change in 2021

How to cope with top 4 challenging life events

The Book of Hope launchme

Sending self care packages- a guide to sending gifts

Feel less trapped with these powerful ideas

6 Tips to stay positive and help mental health

Moving to our First Home and mental health- me

How to reach for help and not be ashamed

Whats the connection between mental health and addiction- Jennifer at Mandala Healing

We are a top UK mental health blog 2021- thanks Vuelio- Me

Can you still get health insurance cover if you have a history of mental illness?

The benefits of seeking mental health support and help

The link between debt and mental health

Start Up founders are 50% more likely to suffer from a mental health condition- Daniel Tannenbaum

How can mental health workers cope with the new normal?

Easing the burden of divorce- Brooke Chaplan

Stress and Panic Attacks Part two- Me

How to remain independent and look after your health as you get older

How selfie changed my life and mental health- Kathryn Chapman

The benefits of personal training for your mental health- Life Force Fitness

Recovery from alcohol or substance abuse: benefits of a sober living home

6 Ways Fathers can Assist New Mothers- Jess Levine

Work in progress- healing from trauma to find the light- me

Is stress affecting your skin? heres how to tell

Prioritising mental health on the world stage, Simone biles- me

Why privacy is critical for our mental health

Goal setting for mental health

Moving house? 5 tips to deal with moving stress

4 Ways to make mental health a priority in your life- Emma Sturgis

What you need to know about post Partum Depression- Kara Reynolds

The Midnight Library book review- me

5 interior design ideas to boost wellbeing

Steps to help aging and wellbeing

How to keep your children in mind during a divorce-Brooke Chaplan

Bryony Gordons mental health card collection for Thortful.com

The Inquisitive-a film on mental health and suicide- Kelvin Richards

Being self compassionate when I have anxiety- me

Keeping things stress free when selling an elderly family members home

7 Bipolar disorder facts everyone should know- Ronnie Deno

Recovering from an eating disorder- Kara Masterson

Wellbeing tips and activities for children- collaboration with Twinkl resources

Building trust in a relationship

How sleep patterns affect your mental health

Choosing life and freedom- my therapy journey- me

Dealing with imposter syndrome

Confidence on return to the office

lifestyles and mental health- Anna Witcherley at Head Hacks

Stress and mild anxiety formula- Nu mind wellness

Mental health problems in the pandemic- Webdoctor.ie

Patient transport helps anxious travellers- EMA Patient transport

How to stop signs of traumatic brain injury- Lizzie Weakley

Looking after mental health in a tense office environment

Dealing with anxiety as a mom/mum- Kara Reynolds

5 Self help books for 2022

Winter mental health and anxiety update- me

Tips to fight addiction- Lizzie Weakley

Lockdown, sleep, anxiety and mental health- collaboration with TEMPUR mattresses (ad)

Helping elderly people to live independently

Getting your loved one help for their addiction- Emma Sturgis

How to support your spouse with mental health issues- Kara Reynolds

Battling co occurring mental health and substance addiction- Holly

Festive season- me

Its Okay not to be Okay by Esther Marshall book review- me

The difference between a therapist and life coach- Lizzie Weakley

Managing mental health over christmas/ festive time- me

Reflecting on a new year 2022- me

Surviving trauma makes relationships difficult- self compassion helps- Taylor Blanchard

Window to the womb launches avocado app for perinatal wellbeing

Where to start when battling addiction- Rachelle Wilber

Mental health new year resolutions

Book review- Pushing through the cracks- Emily J Johnson- me

Depression meals when life gets hard- Kara Reynolds

Jami see mental health campaign blog

Recovering from cancer- the mental health aspect- Rachelle Wilber

Outdoor activities to improve your mental health- Elizabeth Howard

Mental health and eating disorder recovery journey- Emily J. Johnson

Fitness and mental health

Interview with Penny Power MBE, Thomas Power and Mike Segall on bipolar disorder

Self love for Valentines Day- with Kalms (ad)

Being debt free and in good mental health for 2022

Mental health medication- fighting the stigma- me

Overcoming alcohol addiction- Rachelle Wilber

Spiritual tips for helping mental health

Risk factors for post partum depression

Wow! Thank you for supporting me and the blog, for continuing to read and share it and to help battle the stigma around not only bipolar disorder and anxiety- but every mental illness.

Love,

Eleanor x

Options for Improving Your Mental Health and Overcoming Alcohol Addiction by Rachelle Wilber

(image: R Wilber)

Alcohol addiction greatly impacts on your mental health and general wellbeing. Fighting addiction should be your ultimate goal, making it possible to take control of your life. There are numerous options available to help in overcoming addiction and improving your mental health. Here are several options.

Alcohol is extremely addictive and has the potential to ruin mental health and peoples lives. These are just a guide, please consult with professionals.


Connect with Others

A great place to start is it to get out and start meeting other people at support groups. It helps to share positive or similar experiences, which will aid your mental health and self esteem. . You can also consider others and build emotional support if able. Avoid people who want you to relapse back into addiction and who enabled it too! Seek support for you to move forward, even if slowly.

Be Active 

Exercising and getting involved in activities release the endorphin hormone, also known as the happiness hormone. This can also help your general health as you recover slowly. Get involved with community causes and help raise funds for 5k, to 10k walks once you feel able.

Learn New Skills 

Learning new skills helps connect with others and builds a sense of purpose. Try taking a responsible role when volunteering that has an immediate impact, be it at work or in the community like cooking for the homeless- as long as you are in recovery and feel able.

Be Mindful 

Getting into a male alcohol addiction treatment program (or a mixed program/ one for women) can help you in being mindful as it is one of the crucial aspects taught. It helps you consider yourself and the positive changes you have made while recovering from alcohol abuse. Being mindful helps you understand yourself better and take the necessary steps to ensure mental health is protected. 

Be Kind 

Being kind to yourself and placing your feelings first will make it easier to recover from alcohol addiction. Avoid comparing your progress with others and discard people’s opinions of your progress. Allow yourself to make mistakes while finding the right ways to be mentally free. 

Celebrate Your Small Wins 

Celebrate small wins even if you have milestone goals you want to achieve. Start with celebrating finishing the alcohol addiction treatment program. Celebrate your sober days!

Write it Down 

A great way to improve mental health and overcome addiction is by documenting everything. It helps in processing all emotions to gauge triggers to avoid them. It will also allow you to self-reflect on progress, relieve stress, and inspire creativity. 

Reach for Support

Remember to get into local support groups or even stay in touch with members of the alcohol addiction treatment program. Consult a professional (GP or psychiatrist) if the urge is unbearable to avoid relapsing into addiction and keep you on the road to your recovery.  

This article was written by Rachelle Wilber, freelance writer.

Book Review: ‘Pushing Through The Cracks: In the Darkness of Her Family’s Mental Illness She Found Light’- Emily J. Johnson by Eleanor

(image: Emily J Johnson)

Pushing Through The Cracks: In the Darkness of Her Family’s Mental Illness She Found Light by Emily J. Johnson is an incredible book. It is a story that I don’t believe has ever been written about before in such a way in the mental health space, I have certainly never come across it. Its a true memoir that occurred here in the UK during lockdown.

Emily wrote to me and kindly sent me a free copy of her book. I was hooked from the first page- this is a story of survival against the odds, of how mental illness can rip a family apart but how healing and hope are possible. Of strength through immense difficulty. Of light winning over darkness.

Four years ago, in the UK, Emily, a divorced mother of two, was living her best life with a new partner and blended family of six. But then addiction and mental illness entered her home uninvited, threatening to tear the whole family apart.

With an alcoholic husband and two teenage sons – one a depressed gambler and the other with chronic obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)– Emily is left to cope alone. And when the Covid pandemic hits, Emily, a ‘serial people-pleaser, enabler and born rescuer’, almost breaks too.

This true story delves into the darkest sides of mental illness and addiction with raw, often harrowing honesty. It shines a light on taboo subjects including self-harm, suicidal feelings, gambling, alcoholism, depression, severe OCD and eating disorders, all exacerbated by an unprecedented global pandemic and dwindling support services.

This is a story of remarkable strength, self-realisation and reclamation of a lost identity. This is a story of finding hope, pushing through the cracks in the darkness. It is also a story that touches on the difficulties of accessing UK NHS mental health services at times, especially CAMHS.

I found Emily’s strength through such severe adversity – dealing with a husband and two sons with severe mental illness, whilst carrying on with her own life when mental illness permeated every part, to be so inspiring. Her marriage falls apart, her children are unable to attend work and education, the family embarks on several different recovery journeys- navigating NHS mental health care and all its difficulties. Her sons addictions and acute OCD worsen and add to the pressures for Emily. How does she as a mother fix it all? She realises.. she can’t fix anyone and its not her job too.

The front cover features a dandelion pushing through the cracks of the ground. Emily describes the moment she hits rock bottom but then saw a dandelion poking through- which symbolised hope and light for her,

‘(image: Emily J. Johnson)

‘I pick up my phone and call a crisis support line…I desperately want someone to listen to me, to ease my pain, to hear my stories…(of mental illness at home)

I throw my phone across the path in frustration… something catches my eye, a beautiful yellow dandelion is growing through a crack in the concrete. Its golden yellow petals cut through the greyness of the broken path and it overshadows the filth and discarded cigarette butts around it. Despite its surroundings, it has found ways to push up through that crack, to have life. it is. not complaining or giving up, it’s surviving and it will go on to finish flowering. One day soon, the wind will carry its dainty seeds somewhere else to carry on the cycle of its life.

Just like that dandelion, I have pushed through adversity and survived. …I close my eyes and raise my face to the sunshine… Even in the midst of all this chaos, this darkness, there is warmth and light. There is hope.” (from chapter Dandelion) (Emily J. Johnson)

This is also a book which exposes the difficulties and realities of living with mental illness. I will add a trigger warning- it doesn’t hold back on the reality of mental illness including self harm, addiction, alcoholism, suicidal thoughts etc- so please read with care.

Thank you Emily for letting me read and follow the journey of your family. I hope your husband and sons are able to fully battle their demons and recover or stay in remission.

Pushing Through the Cracks by Emily J. Johnson can be bought from Amazon and good book shops.


(image: Emily J. Johnson)

How to Battle Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Addiction by Holly

(image: overcoming-drug-addiction-and-mental-health-issues-blog)

What are co occurring mental health disorder and substance abuse?

A co-occurring disorder is when a person is battling some kind of mental health issue alongside substance abuse like drugs and alcohol addiction. Both SUDs and mental health issues share a strong link. In fact, it’s estimated that almost half the individuals suffering from one will develop the other at some time or another. 

It’s not uncommon for substance abuse to fuel a co-occurring disorder and vice-versa. The severity of both can also increase over time. 

The most common mental health issues to co-occur alongside SUD are – 

  • Anxiety Disorders –  Social anxiety and general anxiety share a strong link with marijuana abuse. Almost 19% of people in the US have some kind of anxiety disorder. GAD, social anxiety, and panic disorder can also increase the odds of co-occurring issues.
  • Personal Disorders – In terms of the general population, around 10-15% suffer from personality disorders. When we talk about those suffering from addiction and substance abuse, the rate is an astounding 35-70%. The commonest personality disorders in those battling SUD are – borderline, avoidant personality, paranoia, and antisocial behavior. 
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – Studies tell us that ADHD comes with an increased risk of developing addiction-related issues during adulthood (mainly 20s and 30s.) There is a positive correlation in symptoms of ADHD like impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and inattention with substance use in adults. 
  • Mood Disorder – Around 30% of people suffering from SUD are likely to suffer from one of the mood disorders such as depression and bipolar.
  • PTSD – According to a survey, people with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder are 4x more likely to develop substance use disorder than those without.

What Causes Co-occurring and Substance Addiction?

It is estimated that over half the people with one disorder will eventually develop the other during their lifetime. While the exact set of reasons that can fuel these two conditions might be long, researchers have found the 3 most prevalent reasons as to why co-occurring disorders may take place.

Overlapping Risk Factors

Many of the risk factors behind SUD and mental health issues are overlapping. Generally, these include environmental factors like exposure to drugs or alcohol at an early age, early childhood trauma, and genetics. All of these factors can make a person more susceptible to developing mental health issues and requiring addiction treatment for drugs such as Cocaine or others.

Self-Medication

Dealing with a mental illness can be difficult. That’s why many people resort to alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms. In medical terms, this is called ‘self-medicating’. However, it’s quite misleading as instead of fixing the problems, it only masks them. What’s more, in the long run, it exacerbates the symptoms and worsens the dependency on drugs/alcohol, making it more difficult to detox from alcohol or drugs, often requiring medically supervised detox.

Drug-Induced Brain Changes

Prolonged drug and substance use can change the brains ‘motivation and reward mechanism’. It can give a false sense of wellness causing one to develop a dependence on drugs beyond control. Eventually, it can lead to mental health issues by affecting the brain and neurotransmitters.

Drugs affect the areas of the brain associated with mood, impulse control, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

How to Battle Co-occurring Mental Health and Substance Use

Residential Treatment 

Residential rehab programs begin with an initial assessment to draw an individual treatment plan. This is followed by detox and several other therapies. The patient has to stay in a structured and highly supervised facility. Common inpatient treatment duration for drug addiction is 30 days. Residential programs put the entire focus on recovery as daily triggers and challenges are removed that often lead to relapses.

Outpatient Healing Programs

Under this program, a patient receives all the treatments and therapies as in residential rehab. However, they are not required to live in the facility. This is good for young teenagers, parents, and people with mild addiction who cannot sacrifice work commitments. 

Detox

This is usually the first step in most addiction treatment programs. Drug detoxification entails medical supervision to get the drugs out of the system. With a clean system, experts can begin further treatment. Generally, therapies and medication cannot begin unless detox is successfully over.

Integrated treatment

Integrated treatment often includes behavioral therapy and counseling as interventions. Rehab centers in Connecticut and other parts of the United States use integrated treatment coupled with medication. Integrated treatment encompasses several therapeutic techniques with proven results in treating substance abuse and mental health issues. Common integrated therapies are –

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy aka CBT aims to understand negative behaviours, thinking patterns, and self-talk that might be causing addiction and other disorders. It then works on changing them.
  • Dialectical behavioural therapy is used for treating borderline personality disorder. It does so by working on negative actions and thoughts like self-harm, suicidal behaviour, and dependence on a substance to cope with daily stressors.
  • Contingency management is often used in upscale addiction treatment centres. It reinforces positive changes by utilising incentives for patients who can exhibit positive behaviours such as staying sober and meeting therapy guidelines.

Medication Treatment

Psychotherapeutic Medications are often integral to treating SUD and co-occurring disorders and are frequently used during alcohol treatment. The commonly prescribed medications include antipsychotics and antidepressants. The latter is used to mostly manage the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Other than that, medications may also be used to lessen the cravings so that relapses don’t happen. 

Buprenorphine, naltrexone, methadone, disulfiram, and acamprosate are the common medications used for treating SUD.

Peer Support Clubs

It’s not uncommon for people with psychiatric issues to become antisocial. The withdrawal from social life exacerbates when you throw drugs and alcohol into the mix. By joining peer support groups/clubs like 12-step, Alcoholics Anonymous, and group counseling – patients can find solace in the presence of other people going through similar battles. 

They can draw inspiration from their stories and also learn some tips to maintain sobriety. Support groups are highly effective in fostering a long-term, sustainable drug-free lifestyle.

Education and Counselling for Families

Sometimes a toxic family environment or dysfunctional relationships may unknowingly be fuelling a person’s addiction. Family counselling educates people how to create a healthy living environment for a family member to support long-term recovery.

image: erson-holding-stop-drugs-sign-blog

Holistic Remedies

Medical science is embracing the effectiveness and importance of holistic/alternative treatment when it comes to treating drug addiction. Many rehab centres are now adopting a holistic treatment model. Common holistic therapies are – massage therapy, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, yoga, reiki, meditation, and music therapy.

In Conclusion

Co-occurring disorders may be a harsh reality in many people’s lives. But, know that if you or your loved one is going through this issue, help is always available.

Holly is a freelance writer who loves to help people who are struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction. Holly knows first-hand what it’s like to deal with substance addiction, and has now been sober for 5 years. Holly is a frequent contributor to many addiction-related blogs and organizations such as the Addiction Treatment Division and Inpatient-Rehab.org.

5 Tips and Tricks to Help You Fight Addiction by Lizzie Weakley

(image: Disha Sheta : Pexels)

When the term addiction is mentioned, most people only think of drug addiction. However, there are also behavioural addictions, including; gambling, sex, exercise, eating, and shopping. When people start developing such behaviour, they never know they can be addicted until it gets too late. Once one is addicted to such behaviour or even drugs, coming back from it takes a while. It may even be years for some. Regardless of what you are addicted to, you may need to follow a particular path to ensure that your recovery is successful once you have decided to quit. Below are some tips that can help you in fighting any addiction.

Find the Right Support System

Addiction recovery is never an easy journey. You may, therefore, require all the help you can get. You can try contacting your family and friends and explain to them your situation. Ensure that those you reach out to for help will never judge you when you relapse. Instead, they will help you get on the recovery path once more.

Change Your Past Friends

When you were mid addiction, you may have found a clique of people who enjoyed the same activity, whether drugs, shopping, or gambling. It is vital to inform them of your new venture. If possible, you may need to stop associating with such people for a while, as they may be the source of your trigger.

Cut Off What Supports the Addiction

When you are a gambler, shopping, or drug addict, one thing that supports your lifestyle is money. You may need to ensure that you cannot have access to such finances. Therefore, you can talk to your bank or even spouse to ensure that the only money you can have access to is those you need for your bills. Having no cash to support your lifestyle may be a significant step towards recovery, but speak to a trained mental health professional about this too.

Join a Self-Help Group

If you are struggling with addiction such as gambling, drugs or sex, you may want to join self help groups. Self-help groups are composed of people who are going through the same journey as you. As such, they understand what you are facing and are there to support you on your road to recovery.

Avoid Triggers

There are those things that may constantly remind you of your addiction. For instance, when trying to recover from sex addiction, it would be wise to get rid of anything triggering. You may also need to avoid hanging out in drug-related areas when you are trying to quit drugs.

Having an addiction is a tricky thing. Luckily, there are people like Awakenings Health and Wellness Centre out there to help you out on your journey. When recovering and having a hard time with your addiction, you may need to check on the above tips to help you stay on course.

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer.

The Benefits of a Sober Living Home- Recovery from Alcohol or Substance Abuse.

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The journey to recovery from alcohol or substance abuse is a long one and is never a straight line. While rehab and detox are the essential first step in sobriety, they’re just the beginning of the journey that can last for a very long time. Going straight back to your previous life and surroundings can be triggering and jeopardise your progress, leading to relapse. 

This is where a sober living home can be the perfect next step on your journey to recovery. These are interim, transitional steps that give you independence based on structure and support. They are designed to help you rebuild your life skills and relationships away from the temptations of drugs and alcohol. 

  1. Additional Time To Recover

The more time and energy you can devote to your recovery, the more successful you will be in maintaining it for the long term. In a sober living home, you will be in an environment where there are no drugs or alcohol to tempt you and find a support network of staff and other residents with which to share the experience. Giving yourself this additional time to recover could be the difference between success and failure.

  1. 24/7 Support

Most sober homes, including Bridgeway Sober Living, have specialist managers on-site 24/7 to give your support and encouragement during your recovery. They are there to help with issues such as feeling depressed right the way through to helping you find a job. 

A lot of the support staff in the sober living home have personal experience with addiction either through their own experience or that of a friend or loved one. 

  1. Meaningful Relationships

A sober living home can let your form bonds with others that aren’t rooted in alcohol. You’ll have lots of things in common and a shared sense of purpose. Your road to recovery will be anything but lonely. 

  1. Rebuilding Life & Social Skills

The basics of everyday life can be difficult for someone in the grip of addiction. Even dressing, washing, and taking out the trash can be beyond some people. Sober living homes allow you to put a structure back into your everyday life that can rebuild your life skills. You’ll relearn how to look after yourself and your surroundings. 

  1. Regain Your Independence

In rehab, your movements and activity are controlled tightly until you’re discharged. Often, going straight back to your former life can be overwhelming. Sober living homes give you the opportunity to start claiming your independence back gradually. You’ll be expected to go out and find your own job, attend social gatherings and look after yourself, all within the safe space of the sober living home. 

Final thoughts

Sober living homes are becoming a viable choice for many recovering addicts. You can find them in all major cities and highly populated areas. They are very well designed, as far away from the stereotype as you could imagine. As part of a successful recovery, they can be the transitional step you need to complete your recovery. 

This post was written by a freelance writer.

What is the Connection between Mental Health and Addiction by Jennifer at Mandala Healing.

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Everyone has their own mental health. But people who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or any other substance abuse are more prone to develop mental illness. While on the other hand, individuals who have mental illnesses are also more prone to developing drug, alcohol, or substance addiction. 

People struggling with addiction and mental health problems have complained about the co-occurring disorder. However, it can be tough to identify which one is the primary. A mental health diagnosis, such as clinical depression, can undoubtedly worsen an individual’s problems with addiction. Similarly, a person experiencing addiction may find that their mental health declines as their use grows. 

If these conditions are left untreated, then co-occurring disorders can lead to a nasty cycle of repeated addiction and worsens mental health symptoms. To overcome addiction and mental health issues, professional care is necessary at a rehab center like Florida Addiction Treatment

But before that, it is vital to understand the relationship between addiction and mental health when looking for help for yourself or a loved one. Because both addiction and mental health diagnoses are chronic medical conditions, they can be treated and managed with the right and approachable treatment while they cannot be cured. 

Understanding the Link Between Mental Health and Addiction:

You might wonder if mental illness can cause addiction or if addiction creates the perfect storm leading to mental health problems. However, in most cases, it is rarely clear which one manifested first. 

Addiction to drugs and alcohol or any other substance can occur due to people self medicating if they suffer from any mental health disorder. Self-medicating with addiction in times of crisis may provide temporary relief at first. But it may help you feel more comfortable connecting with your peers or boost your confidence. However, this is part of the danger of the link between mental health and addiction. 

Continued use is hazardous and develops the risk of addiction. What you look at as a remedy to your problem can quickly put you on a brutal cycle of misuse and abuse. 

Long-term use of addiction often produces side-effects such as anxiety and depression. Taking addictive substances alters your brain chemistry, and extended use of it only increases your chances of developing mental illness. 

People coping with these specific mental health conditions are more likely to get addicted to drugs or alcohol (but not in every case)-

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)


Potential Causes of Co-Occurring Disorders:

Addiction and mental health issues can occur because of many factors; however, some potential causes may involve genetics, age, and environmental factors. 

  • Genetics or family history-

Genetics can play a critical part in the evolution of both addiction disorder and mental condition. It has been studied that genes contribute to many health issues.

As genes are passed down from generation to generation, the family history of a disorder is also a strong indicator. Autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, major depression are all examples of conditions that can be spread through your genes. 

  • Environmental factors-

However, you don’t have to have the genes for a particular disease, which does not mean that you will develop the condition. The environment plays a key role in how their genes are expressed. 

High-stress environments, trauma, physical or sexual abuse can also contribute towards a co-occurring disorder. Looking at your friends and family engage in dangerous behavior like addiction can also play a key factor. People likely to follow the examples of those they are close with. When your close ones behave poorly, you may be more likely to as well. 

  • Age-

Exposure to certain things during teen years can also be an element. Being offered drugs or alcohol at an early age can also contribute to addiction and possibly mental illness. Since at an early age, the brain is still in the developing stage. Developing a mental health illness at an early age may also make you more susceptible to addiction. 

Treatment for Mental Illness and Addiction: 

The best treatment for both disorders is an integrated approach, where both the substance abuse problem and the mental illness are treated together. Whether your mental health or addiction problem came first, long-term recovery depends on getting treatment for both the disorders by the same treatment provider. 

Treatment for mental health may include medication, individual or group counselling, self-care measures, lifestyle change, and peer support.

Addiction treatment may include detoxification, managing withdrawal symptoms, behavioral therapy, and support groups to help maintain sobriety.