When you have a mental illness, self-medication and addiction are a huge risk. With the current stigma against mental illness persisting, it can seem easier to simply handle your symptoms yourself. However, when you abuse addictive substances, there are always consequences.
Once you are in rehab and focusing on your recovery, you may notice your symptoms returning worse than ever before. This is the result of the addiction. Sobriety after a stint of self-medication can very easily lead to increased difficulties with your illness. All too commonly, this also means suicidal thoughts. Here are a few steps you can use to cope with suicidal thoughts as you work to overcome an addiction.
Get Professional Treatment
Your very first step needs to be seeking professional help. Self-medication often occurs due to a lack of proper treatment and should be corrected immediately. Without treatment, it becomes far more likely for you to fall back into old habits in an attempt to manage your symptoms.
As someone with a mental illness and an addiction, you are already at a greater risk for suicide than other people. By seeking help, you can reduce that statistic and avoid relapse. A quality treatment should be tackling both your addiction and your mental illness, not just one or the other.
Find a Healthy Coping Tactic
Other people use drugs or alcohol as more of a coping tactic than a treatment. If their depression, anxiety, or other illness is acting up, a substance can make you feel better for a short period of time. This habit evolves into a comfort item for whenever things get bad. For example, someone with anxiety may have abused alcohol to get through a social occasion. Suddenly, they are drinking every time they need to spend time with other people.
A positive coping tactic will help your brain replace the addiction. Rather than wishing for the substance, your brain will learn to reach for the coping method instead. Some great options might be coloring, cross-stitching, yoga, meditation, knitting, or doodling.
People undergoing a stressful time in their lives need the support of others. If you have close friends and family, find a way to reach out and stay in touch. Make sure you educate them on your problems so that they can be as helpful as possible during this time.
If you do not have many people in your life that you feel safe around, you may consider a support group. Support groups are wonderful because they are pre-educated friends who understand what you are going through and know how to help.
Handling suicidal thoughts is never easy but experiencing this problem in the face of addiction recovery and mental illness is even harder. It is important that you take the necessary steps to handle these thoughts and do not brush them off. Suicidal thoughts are very serious and require support and treatment to correct. So find help and reach out to loved ones or support groups. You do not need to go through this alone.
Chloe Pearson is a research specialist and freelance writer. She enjoys volunteering for ConsumerHealthLabs.com because she understands that in order for consumers to make the best decisions about their health they need reliable, well-researched information on which to base those decisions. And that’s precisely what everyone at Consumer Health Labs aims to do as they explore and interpret new health-related data and research.
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