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Mental Health Challenges After Addiction Recovery

Hi Shadow’s Edge readers. We know a lot of you have been going through some tough times lately, and it can be even more challenging if you struggle with an addiction. Addiction can affect anyone – no matter their age, gender, background, etc. Teens and young adults included. And addiction recovery isn’t just a physical battle, but there are often mental health challenges after addiction recovery as well.

We wanted to share this guest blog with you all so that you don’t have to feel so alone in your recovery. Because sometimes during our journey, knowing that we aren’t alone in our struggles can be our lifeline we can fall back on when we feel like calling it quits. And on top of that, understanding the “why” of addiction can also be a part of the healing process.

We hope this blog is helpful for you during this time. And if you need more help, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662-4357.

Thank you to guest writer, Emily Blunt, for sharing this article with us!


Dealing with mental illness is among one of the most significant components when someone is going through addiction recovery.

Research has concluded that more than half of people with addiction have a co-occurring mental health problem. The link between mental illness and addiction is quite complex. Most often the mental health issue comes first, and the addiction issues start as self-medication. 

However, addiction can also cause mental health issues or make existing mental health issues worsen. In both situations, the addiction and mental health issues may step from a common cause. What’s compelling is that anyone seeking help for an addiction issue can also be screened for a co-occurring mental health issue. If there is a co-occurring issue, it must be treated simultaneously for addiction recovery to be successful, which means finding a treatment program with the facilities to address dual diagnosis. People coping with any addiction such as alcohol, drug, or substance abuse may find it challenging to cope with mental illness. They will have to face specific mental health challenges during and after the drug and alcohol rehab recovery.

Some Common Challenges for Addicts During Addiction Recovery

Major depression

Major depression is among the most common health issues, and it is also the leading cause of disability worldwide. In a study, it has been concluded that more than seven percent of American young adults and 13 percent of teenagers between 12 to 17 years’ experience major depression. However, it is not only that depression is common – but that addiction rates are higher among people with depression.

Bipolar disorder

Though bipolar disorder is treated as a depressive disorder, it requires special mention because it is a considerable risk element for addiction. A similar study that found elevated substance use among people dealing with depression found that individuals with bipolar disorder had a 56 percent chance of developing an addiction at some point in their lives. It may be because people with bipolar disorder have to deal with the emotional pain of depression episodes with a higher risk.

Anxiety issues

Anxiety is more common than significant depression issues because it comprises many different cases – including generalized anxiety, social anxiety disorder, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress issues. All these issues increase the risk of addiction.

Personality disorder

Personality disorders are disorders based on having a rigid or distorted way of viewing the world. A personality disorder immensely increases the risk of developing an addiction. Studies have found that individuals with personality disorders can have a lifetime risk of addiction.

Common Mental Health Challenges During Addiction Recovery

Coping with loss of support

Addiction often acts as a support for people coping with mental illness. Emotional issues are treated by using drugs, alcohol, or any other substance addiction. However, during the rehabilitation, this support is removed. Recovering addicts will have to deal with various emotional challenges. There might be feelings of shame or embarrassment about addiction.

Managing stress and cravings

The recovery process also involves learning new coping strategies. These strategies help manage stress and addiction cravings. It can be challenging at first, but the coping strategies learned during the recovery treatment becomes the new normal. Although it requires practice and effort, they must become habitual.

Dealing with boredom

Addiction to drugs and alcohol becomes an integral part of the addict’s life. There can be little time to think about anything else. During recovery, the daily routine may be healthier, but significant gaps can open up in the recovering addict’s life. Dealing with boredom can be difficult, but family and friends’ support can help recover from it. Sports, work, education, or hobbies can fill this gap.

Tips for maintaining good mental health after addiction recovery

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

After recovery, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle to support your recovery. And to do this, you must follow a healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy and nutritious diet, regular exercise, and proper sleep. Proper sleep can significantly improve mental health along with a balanced diet and regular exercise such as running.

Take your medications and get routine check-ups

Taking your prescribed medicines regularly can help to keep your mental health in balance. While recovering from addiction, it is most important to stay away from any mental health issue such as anxiety or depression. Moreover, regular visits with a mental health provider are also necessary.

Develop positive connections with yourself, family, and friends

In addition to mental health, there are some other dimensions of recovery: house, purpose, and community. All three of these elements share a single aspect, and that is healthy human connection. Developing a relationship with the family at home, with themselves (for a greater sense of meaning and purpose of existence), and with society helps create good mental health.


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