When dealing with a drug addiction or mental disorder, a person often reports an overwhelming loss of control in various sectors of life. Thoughts can begin racing off in different directions, emotions can swing widely in unpredictable trajectories and behaviors can become uncontrollable.
Even after seeking help and surviving a harmful relationship with an illicit substance, regaining control of activities that should be naturally instinctive can be the most difficult part to process. It’s important to consider that while someone in recovery may not be able to master his or her internal thoughts, emotions or behavior, there are still many ways to feel in control of one’s life. One example is influencing one’s external environment.
The concept of external control is actually derived from some of the cardinal guidelines for those in recovery. When one leaves the world of disorder or addiction and makes the leap to get professional help, the person is typically transferred to a safe, yet isolated environment. Whether it is a detox facility, rehabilitative center or hospital, the recovering individual has his or her surrounding environment controlled by professionals in order to ensure an uninterrupted healing process. The real test comes when that person is released from care and attempts to join the real world once again.
In regards to the overall difficulty with continual self-management, a primary factor in relapse or a worsening condition is the exposure to triggering situations. These circumstances can tempt an individual recovering from substance addiction to use again. They can also evoke intense emotional episodes in situations such as when a person with PTSD encounters an event similar to a personally traumatic experience. Both variations can severely impact a person’s state of recovery, even in the most hopeful cases. Avoiding trigger situations, people or places can help an individual stay on track and feel more in control because they are choosing what they are exposed to according to their comfort level.
Build positive support systems
Another powerful roadblock patients may encounter during recovery is the lack of a positive support system. This is especially true when a person lacks compassionate family members or loved ones and instead is enduring neglectful or abusive relationships. In instances of addiction, friends or family can also be enablers of continued substance use, especially if the group offers a sense of welcome or acceptance. For instance, if somebody was introduced to an addictive substance by a group of peers, that same group may likely pressure the person post-treatment with the same substance, causing relapse. The patient may surrender through positive feelings of nostalgia or in a desperate attempt to avoid social isolation.
However, with the establishment of a positive support system whether it be through supportive family members and friends or members of a support group, these negative circumstances can be lessened. Positive support groups can decrease the risk of relapse and improve a person’s recovery, helping them return to feeling in control and focused.
Establishing a routine
Planning and keeping a consistent routine for one’s day is also necessary to manage a chronic mental health disorder or addiction. This tactic imitates the methods of a medically-administered plan by forming a stabilizing schedule in a person’s day which can also simultaneously help them feel in control. It is designed to further ensure that a person does not wander into triggering or tempting situations and keeps moving forward into a new and progressive way of thinking.
Substance addiction and mental disorders go hand-in-hand. In fact, about a third of all people experiencing mental illnesses also experience a type of addiction, while more than half of those suffering from addiction report having an associated mental disorder of some kind. A towering obstacle for many attempting to stay sober is also living with a coexisting mental condition, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which keeps the person vulnerable to relying on a drug to cope with the disorder’s effects. Unfortunately, this process can create a vicious cycle of suffering as a person defeats one problem and always finds that another has reared its head. This is why dual diagnosis serves to solve both mental illness and addiction problems. It is only by addressing and quelling all existing conditions simultaneously that the chance of recovery is truly possible.
By harnessing the ability to control one’s environment, recovering from a pair of disorders can become that much easier. The constant struggle with one’s internal limits is a conflict that can take a lifetime to manage, even for those without mental dysfunctions. However, by being aware of what stressors and stimuli are around and actively exercising authority over what environments and situations are entered, the person can develop a stronger state of being, building an even stronger resistance to certain triggers.
For those who need guidance in controlling their surroundings, specialized treatment centers exist all around California that administer treatment in a protected healthcare setting and even perform dual diagnosis screenings for people handling more than one problem. If you or a loved one is in need of help or has had difficulty recovering from disorders in the past, please contact California Dual Diagnosis Helpline online or at 855-980-1736.