Addiction and Mental Health, How They Go Together?

It has been said “You don’t just “treat addiction.” You end up treating anxiety, depression, PTSD, loneliness, rage, despair, toxic secrets, regret, undiagnosed head trauma, untreated ADHD. Then you realize addiction is often someone’s best attempt to cope when they don’t see other options.” So let’s talk about coping with these things.

If you have bouts with depression, anxiety, loneliness, despair, or rage those are feelings you probably are not comfortable with. Now we have spent quite a bit of time discussing anxiety and depression because it is such a big problem today. They are both likely to be on the rise in 2020 and 2021 with all that has gone on. Even though so many people are suffering from these, most people struggle alone and will not even acknowledge that it is something they struggle with. But, If we will not look at it we can’t fix it. It takes effort to look for options to find the source and to change our thoughts. Maybe you were like me and you just wanted to numb your feelings. It actually felt pretty good the first couple times. It is so easier to numb ourselves from the emotion with a mood altering substance or action. There are many ways out there to do it, we can use alcohol, drugs (illicit or prescribed), shopping, sex, porn, eating, and a host of others things. Some things that are acceptable for some people in some situations can be used to numb those feelings we are fighting with. It makes total sense to want to numb those feelings. No one wants to feel depressed, anxious, lonely, despair, enraged or any of the others, right? 

If I look at my life the times that I have had the most problems with depression, loneliness, rage or despair, they are the times I have used behaviors and substances the most to cope. The time I was most depressed and felt the most lonely was when I started drinking. I’ll tell you what, I could drink! I started drinking in my mid 20’s  after I joined the Corps. I started my drinking career with hard alcohol. Tequila was my favorite. Many of the people I drank with had been drinking for years longer than I. Yet from the start I could go drink for drink and often drink even more. I didn’t ever just have one or two drinks. I drank to get drunk every single time. I drank to numb my feelings of  inadequacies. I wanted to forget that I was not good enough, or not lovable, that I was alone. That I was full of regret and toxic secrets. I wanted that warm sensation that made me feel invincible. Who wouldn’t want to numb those types of feelings? 

The problem with using things stemmed from the fact that there was no way to stay at that moment of euphoria. The high you and I experienced soon left. It didn’t matter what behavior or substance we used. It eventually was not enough. We did not stay in that warm invincible spot, and it got harder and harder to get there. It was just a quick experience and it didn’t always happen after the first few uses. But that did not stop me from chasing after it. So alcohol was my drug of choice, maybe yours was something else. 

Today we are talking about addiction and mental health and how they go together. When treating addiction you end up working on anxiety, depression, PTSD, loneliness, rage, despair, toxic secrets, regret, undiagnosed head trauma, and untreated ADHD. This is because addiction is often someone’s best attempt to cope with these issues when they don’t see other options. We talked about the feelings we have that we want to numb.

So if using these behaviors and substances give us a way of coping with an issue what is the problem? If we are able to numb the feelings and stop the  thoughts that we have that tell us we are not enough then why is this an issue?  I mean coping mechanisms are good right? That way we can cope. Well, if you are using anything there are a couple things I can say about you.

  1. You don’t feel complete. You have these negative thoughts that bring on unhealthy feelings about yourself and who you are.
  2. You chase after that high that you first felt. It takes more and is harder to get there the more you use.
  3. Each time you use things get worse. You feel like you aren’t enough or have enough. You use because you don’t have much and now you have less.
    1.  I was broke so I had a party, while the party was going on someone found and stole my rent money so now I had even less. 
    2. Then there was the time I had a party I wanted to feel more accepted and loved. I so wanted a relationship. But my actions at the party left me feeling empty and awful afterwards. I felt so much worse and it lasted for quite awhile.

So the problem comes not necessarily from the using, but from the thoughts that lead up to it. The fact is “We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves that we can love.” Lori Dechene.  Addiction is just a thing because we have all these other problems that we need to cope with and instead of coping with them we just numb them with the addiction. So they never go away. It is like taking a bath with your clothes on. It doesn’t address the issue nor overcome it and when you get out your problem drains out everywhere you go.

In the midst of all the pressures of our day, All the things we expect of ourselves. We often forget all the wonderful unique amazing things that make us up. 

  1. People that you compare yourself too compare themselves to others. Do not judge yourselves or other people. 
  2. Don’t believe everything you think. Question all cruel or discouraging thoughts that go through your mind.
  3. Give yourself credit there is more right with you than wrong.
  4. You need to love yourself the most when you feel you deserve it the least.
  5. You can only feel satisfied in the “later” once you accept and make peace with the “now.”
  6. Focus on progress rather than perfection.

It is important for you to realize that you are not alone. You are not the only one who feels like they are not enough. Nor are you the only one to feel guilt, loss, depression, anxiety, anger, or loneliness. These feelings come from the inner critic that we all have. The voice that tells us we don’t stack up. Once you allow that thought to be, also know that you can reduce those thoughts and feelings and that reducing them has less negative side effects in your life than that of using to numb them.


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