Mental Health Tips to Avoid Opioid Addiction
Monday, 11 January 2021

Opioids are one of the biggest health threats in the United States today and one of the largest public health crises over the last 2 decades. In fact, the opioid epidemic has led to the deaths of over 450,000 people.

Addiction, including opioid addiction, is a physical and mental disease. For many people dealing with addiction issues, they will often struggle with co-occurring mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more.
 
Unfortunately, these issues may begin before or after the inception of addiction – while it can be hard to trace which began first, one thing is clear: the presence of one will only exacerbate the other, and vice versa.
 

This leads to a dangerous cyclical problem which can impact a person’s day-to-day life and their overall health outlook. With that said, there are things which can be done today to help you avoid these potential problems tomorrow.

With the new year beginning, you may want to make some new year’s resolutions based around improving your health. Improving your mental health can go a long way toward improving your overall well-being and sidestepping addiction. Let’s take a closer look at some things you can do in your day-to-day life to improve your mental health.
 

Improving Mental Health

 
Your mental health is so closely linked to various aspects of your life including your sleep schedule, eating habits, and social relationships. Because of this, it is vital you take inventory of these and make adjustments when necessary.
 
Get Enough Sleep – One of the most underrated aspects of your mental health is the amount of sleep you get. Sleep deprivation can have disastrous effects on your psyche and overall mental state. It can also lead to increased chance of disorders like depression, anxiety, and more – both of which can contribute and act as a catalyst for addiction. A few things you can do to improve ability to sleep include avoiding your phone before bed, exercising, and avoiding alcohol.
 
Eat Healthy – Studies have found there is a strong correlation between what you put in your body and your mental health. Diets with high sugar intake were found to be associated with certain mood disorders including depression. Diets which tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, fish and seafood, and unprocessed grains have shown to lead to a 25 to 35% reduced risk of problems like depression. Getting your diet in order can go a long way to improving your mental health and, in turn, helping you avoid problems such as addiction.
 
Engage Socially – While COVID-19 and quarantining may make it more difficult for people to have social relationships, they are vital for your health. In fact, social isolation can be a trigger for mental illnesses and is a staple among people who are abusing drugs such as opioids. To avoid these psychological slumps during the pandemic, you can utilize technology to stay in touch with your loved ones. Zoom or FaceTime both allow you to meet virtually over video, calling people is still always an option just to hear their voice, even a simple “How you doing?” text can go a long way.
 
These are all great tips to improve not only your mental health, but physical health as well; however, we still have to talk about one of the best tools at your disposal for improving your mental health: meditation.
 

Mindfulness and Meditation for Addiction

 
Across the nation, drug and alcohol rehabs have begun to recognize the power mindfulness exercises and meditation can have on patients as they work to overcome addiction and have started making it a part of their addiction treatment. While these tools can be helpful for people struggling with addiction, they can also improve the lives of those on the path toward addiction or those who just want to improve their mental state.
 
There are numerous ways to practice meditation, some people practice deep breathing exercises while others may try a walking meditation. Let’s take a look at both:
 
Deep Breathing – Breathing exercises, including deep breathing, will do a lot to improve mental health disruptions such as anxiety, and reducing overall stress. To practice deep breathing, just follow a few steps. Find a quiet and relaxing place, Inhale deeply and slowly through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. As you continue this, practice on focusing your attention completely on your breathing and how inhaling and exhaling is affecting your body and diaphragm.
 
Walking Meditation – To try walking meditation, find a quiet place, about 10 to 20 feet in length total and begin walking slowly. While you are walking, focus your attention on the way your body is moving and the subtle ways your body keeps its balance. When you reach the end of the length, turn and continue the process while continuing your awareness. These types of exercises will allow you to develop a focus on your body and mind.
 
Your mental health is something which needs to be taken seriously – it can affect nearly every aspect of your life and, if not monitored, can lead to major issues including alcoholism or opioid abuse.
 

About the Author

 
Joe Gilmore works for The Hope House, a rehab in Arizona dedicated to providing clients with the highest form of care for their substance abuse problem.
 
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