Admitting you need help for an addiction is a complex and highly emotional decision, especially if you also have co-occurring mental health issues such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. The early stages of addiction recovery can be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, times in your life as therapy teaches you new things about yourself and you start to hone the skills that will help you stay sober for the long term. Here are some strategies for prioritizing your mental health as a recovering addict.
1. Follow Your Aftercare Plan
Creating structure around your recovery gives you a leg up with your long-term success. Having a recovery plan and sticking to it will keep you accountable and remind you of your daily activities. You don’t necessarily have to schedule each day down to the minute, but having set times when you will wake up, eat meals, work, meditate, exercise and participate in therapy are better than flying by the seat of your pants and expecting everything to work out on its own.
2. Have a Sober Support Group
As significant a step it is to go through addiction treatment, completing a stay in rehab is only the beginning of your work to heal your physical and mental health. Surrounding yourself with supportive family and friends will help you stay on the right track. Remember that protecting your sobriety may require you to distance yourself from old friends you used to drink or use drugs with, because they may not understand or respect your goals.
3. Set Boundaries and Stick to Them
Having appropriate boundaries that reflect your beliefs is another essential component of addiction recovery and maintaining your mental health. Unhealthy boundaries are one of the characteristics of addiction, so you will need to reestablish your relationships with others and assert your newfound values. For many people in early recovery, healthy boundaries could include learning how to firmly, but politely, say no or walk away if someone’s behavior is making you uncomfortable or threatening to undo the progress you’ve made.
4. Know Your Triggers
In a perfect world, you’d have ample warning of triggers before you encounter them, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case for most of us. Triggers can pop up in unexpected times and places, which means you need to have a plan in place for how to resolve them. For example, if a stressful day at work has resulted in strong urges to drink or use drugs, have someone you can call to help calmly walk through why you are feeling this way and remind you that you chose to get sober for a good reason. Anytime you begin to have the same feelings that led to your mental health symptoms and substance abuse, create a list of distractions that can help ease your mind. Meditate, go for a walk, work on an artistic hobby or speak to your therapist.
5. Put Your Mental Health First
The only way to prioritize mental health is to have it on the top of your to-do list every day. You entered treatment to become the best possible version of yourself, and now you need to put all your energy into making that goal a reality. It’s not selfish to make time for self-care. Take it one step at a time and be patient. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint, but putting in the effort will pay off.
Find Your Sober Home
Often, people need a stepping stone between an addiction treatment facility and a return to their typical daily lives. At Segue Recovery Support, we combine transitional housing with a high-accountability sober living environment that provides much-needed structure where residents can immerse themselves in recovery. Call or email us today to learn more.