It is no secret that substance abuse takes a toll on an individual, but the damage might not always be obvious. Usually, the problems that stick out are physical symptoms. Even medical issues that are not visible from the outside, such as liver disease and hepatitis, can be observed and are easily measured by medical professionals.
What might not be as evident are three other detrimental effects that active addiction can have on a person. Using also harms a person mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Therefore, recovery must address all four of these areas, in order to be comprehensive and successful in the long term. The good news is that there is hope. Keep reading to learn the many techniques and resources that are readily available.
In active addiction, it is common for people to neglect their medical needs. Start by seeking medical attention for any issues that have not been addressed, and continue with regular check-ups and preventative care.
Maintaining physical wellness over time also requires a healthy routine:
- Eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the day
- Exercise, which can be as simple as walking)
- Get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night
Prolonged substance abuse can affect the brain and have a negative impact on mental functioning. While some conditions are irreversible or require medication, there are steps you can take to improve clarity and reasoning:
- Play word games
- Do jigsaw puzzles and other activities that require concentration
- Perform activities that require hand-eye coordination and improve motor skills
- Eat a healthy diet that is low in caffeine
Regular substance use interferes with a person’s ability to experience and process emotions. Mood swings and anxiety are common in early recovery.
Especially in the beginning, the focus should be on stabilizing moods and learning how to cope with the natural ups and downs of life:
- Develop a support network
- Identify triggers
- Practice coping skills
The spiritual aspect of addiction and recovery is not necessarily tied to religion. Some people say that they experience an empty feeling, a hole that they were trying to fill by using drugs and alcohol. People sometimes refer to this as a ““spiritual void.”
In order to avoid relapsing or replacing substances with other addictive behaviors, it is important to fill that void with spiritual practices and principles:
- Pray or reach out to a higher power
- Meditate and reflect on thoughts and behaviors
- Connect with other people in recovery
- Do service work to reach out to help someone else
Recovery takes effort, and some areas might be harder than others. It is often recommended that people get involved in a 12-step program or Refuge Recovery, as they provide support and tools for lasting recovery. Regardless of your method, the key to maintaining over time is to regularly address the four domains outlined above.