3 Facts That Will Make You Rethink Addiction and Mental Health
This Blog post comes to us from Michelle P., a proud supporter of Recovery Pride. Relias Academy is thankful for the work she does to help continue the conversation surrounding mental health and addiction.
Addiction and mental health are two topics that make people uncomfortable, at best. Unfortunately, people have so many misconceptions and fears about addiction and mental illness that they view people dealing with them in a negative light. Additionally, people who struggle with addiction and mental illness often hide it, feel ashamed, or avoid treatment because they know the stigma exists. However, once people have the facts about these conditions, they begin to understand there is no reason to fear them and they start to accept the condition and value the importance of treatment.
1. Addiction is Caused Primarily by Distress
Addiction and mental health issues often go hand-in-hand. In fact, 85%-90% of people who use heroin, crack, or meth do not become addicted. People who do become addicted primarily do so because of distress. When people are happy and healthy, they bond with their families and friends. Conversely, when they are unhappy, they become addicted because they are looking for something to bond with in the absence of healthy relationships.
Indeed, healthy, happy relationships are one of the best ways to combat addiction. Improving mental health, therefore, is the key to preventing addiction and supporting recovery. Addicts in recovery need a nurturing, happy home with a space where they can decompress and feel less overwhelmed in order to support improved mental health and sobriety. They are inspired to lead healthier lives when they have this nurturing environment, especially because they can focus on improving their overall well-being and eating healthy foods and exercising more to feel even better.
2. Addiction is a Chronic Disease
Many people become disgusted with addicts because they think they choose to be addicts. The truth is, addiction is a chronic disease; like most chronic diseases, there is not a cure. Both the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine define addiction as a disease, as do most other medical associations. Addiction impacts the brain and body and disrupts the sections of the brain that drive reward, motivation, learning, judgment, and memory. In addition to being caused by distress, addiction also is affected by behavioral, environmental, and biological factors.
There are treatment programs that can help addicts manage their triggers and improve their mental health. But, addicts remain at risk of relapse throughout their lives. That’s why addiction treatment that includes behavior therapy is one of the most effective approaches to treating the disease. Some treatment approaches go one step further by being tailored to an addict’s drug use patterns and co-existing medical, mental, and social problems. Should addiction go untreated, it can lead to other physical and mental disorders that require medical attention; as time passes, addiction becomes more severe and life-threatening.
3. Anyone Can Struggle with Addiction and Mental Health Issues
One of the reasons that the stigma about addiction and mental health remains strong is that people often have a mental picture of what an addict or a person with mental illness looks like. In truth, your picture of a homeless criminal could not be further from the truth. Any person can struggle with addiction and mental health issues. People who have degrees, high income, and large families can be affected by addiction and mental health issues.
The conditions do not discriminate, and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 20.2 million adults had a substance use disorder and 43.6 million Americans ages 18 and older had a form of mental illness. They also found that 7.9 million people had both a mental disorder and substance use disorder, which is known as co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.
The stigma about addiction and mental health is a long-standing one. But, with more education and stronger focus on the facts about the disorders, people can begin to understand them better and have more empathy for those who struggle with them. Additionally, people who live with addiction and mental health issues will recognize they are not alone and that treatment and building strong, healthy relationships and a happy home are two keys to recovery.
Relias Academy has spotlighted the course “Mindfulness and Multidisciplinary Treatment of Addiction”.
This course is made available through our Partnership with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.
50% of the proceeds from the sales of this course will go to Angels at Risk a non-Profit designed to encourage communication on issues regarding drug and alcohol abuse in kids, teenagers and families. Angels at Risk is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. To learn more about Angels at Risk, click here.
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