Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), as a chronic, relapsing neuropsychiatric disorder. The Mayo Clinic explains addiction as a disease “that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication” without regard for consequence. Addiction is a mental health condition that compels an individual to prioritize satisfying his or her substance cravings above all else. This can wreak havoc in all facets of one’s life, causing a plethora of adverse effects, including physiological complications, relationship fractures, financial strain, legal challenges, employment issues, and more. The development of substance use disorder does not occur immediately, nor will recovering from addiction be achieved instantaneously.
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care is defined as “the ability to care for oneself through awareness, self-control, and self-reliance in order to achieve, maintain, or promote optimal health and well-being.” Self-care practices involve both nurturing one’s physical and mental health, which can be accomplished in many ways. Self-care is an important part of recovery from addiction for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Restores physical and mental wellbeing: Addiction can take a toll on the body, and certain self-care activities like engaging in regular exercise can enhance physical wellness. Frontiers in Psychiatry published an article referring to preclinical studies that indicate “accumulating evidence shows that exercise influences many of the same signaling molecules and neuroanatomical structures that mediate the positive reinforcing effects of drugs. These studies have revealed that exercise produces protective effects in procedures designed to model different transitional phases that occur during the development of, and recovery from, a substance use disorder.” A major study found that physical activity spurs the release of proteins that cause nerve cells to grow and make new connections, which improves brain function and subsequently enhances mental health.
- Promotes proper nutrition: Nutrition comes from a variety of sources such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, lipids, enzymes, carbohydrates, and more. During recovery it is often recommended that people eat meals that integrate foods that are high in carbohydrates, especially the complex carbohydrates found in starchy foods like legumes (e.g., beans, lentils, and peas), root vegetables (e.g., potatoes and carrots), pastas and breads, along with protein. The neurotransmitters (chemicals that are responsible for regulating behaviors) in one’s brain are controlled by what an individual ingests. For example, certain foods can increase the production of dopamine and/ or norepinephrine that enhance one’s ability to think more clearly and remain more alert. Eating a varied and balanced diet can help to improve one’s immune system and strengthen immunity.
- Builds emotional resilience: Self-care practices such as mindfulness exercises (e.g., meditation, deep breathing, visualization, etc.), as explained by Courtney Clark, in her famous TED Talk, have been positively connected to emotional resilience. Data shows that meditation can help lower blood pressure, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, improve insomnia, and more.
Incorporating self-care practices into daily life can be invaluable to one’s long-term recovery and enhance one’s quality of life.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.