The path of sobriety can be very challenging at first, especially if you are suffering from both substance addiction and a mental disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder. This is what is referred to as ‘dual diagnosis.’
Having conquered your substance abuse, you now remain vulnerable to the effects that accompany your mental disorder. In fact, it is not uncommon for recovering addicts, even if they do not suffer from additional mental disorders, to experience feelings of loneliness, sadness, and anxiousness amongst many others. This is usually because former addicts have been in the habit of avoiding these feelings by using mind-altering substances.
The intensity of these feelings is dangerous in the sense that they can act as triggers and result in a relapse. It is therefore vital for you to develop healthy coping mechanisms in order to manage these sometimes overpowering emotions.
Engage in Some Exercise
The benefits of physical exercise are numerous. Not only does it combat many health conditions and illnesses, but exercise can also boost your energy levels and help you have a better night’s sleep. More importantly, physical exercise releases various brain chemicals such as endorphins that will leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. This will no doubt aid your transition into a sober and healthy life.
There are many different ways to increase your physical activity. It doesn’t always mean slaving away at the gym. Consider getting out in nature by going for walks or bike rides. You could also join a yoga group or a dancing class, which are also both great ways to meet new people.
Stick to the Program
By this time you will no doubt be familiar with the twelve-step program. This program gives you direction and guidance about how to lead a healthier and more meaningful life. It is important for you to embrace the steps and work through them carefully. Avoid getting frustrated if you don’t feel like you are making much progress. It may take some more time than others.
It is also important to realize that some of your negative emotions may be a result of you not yet having dealt with the fact that you may have caused pain to those around you. Making amends with these people in your life is not something you can avoid. Dealing with emotions of shame and guilt is a vital part of the process and will leave you with inner peace.
Reach Out to Others
It is vital for you to get into the habit of sharing your thoughts and experiences at your recovery group meetings. These groups can be incredibly beneficial not only for you but also for those who hear your stories. Sharing helps to lift the weight of these negative emotions off your shoulders and the fact that you are not only helping yourself but also the other people in your meeting will leave you with a sense of meaning.
Also, having proper psychological treatment for dual diagnosis during and after rehab will help you develop coping mechanisms that are tailored specifically for you while also addressing the factors behind your mental disorder in an appropriate and professional manner.
It is important to note, should you suffer from a dual diagnosis, that these coping mechanisms in no way detract from the need to take your medication relating to your mental disorder. These strategies are merely additional ways to improve your mood.