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Healthcare professionals know the dangers of addiction all too well. As synthetic opioids ramp up the threat of overdose, addiction treatment is paramount for successful recovery and allowing patients to survive their addiction. Though medical professionals can understand the need for treatment and dangers of addiction from a healthcare standpoint, many don’t have personal experience with the process. However, that doesn’t mean healthcare providers can’t offer support and advice to their patients experiencing addiction in order to help them along the road to recovery.
Finding a Hobby
For most, boredom is simply annoying. For an addict, boredom can be downright dangerous. Boredom can bring about feelings of listlessness or exhaustion; it can lead to irritability and depression. Neurochemical changes such as these can destabilize brain chemistry and make an addict more prone to using drugs and alcohol again.
Boredom may also cause an addict to feel displeased with their recovery. They may start to think of drinking or drugs nostalgically, remembering “the good times,” when they were free to do as they pleased. This too, can increase the chances they may start using or drinking again in the future.
For an addict, a hobby can be the difference between long-term sobriety and relapse. Addiction is a lifestyle, and the only way to get better is to change that. For many, a hobby can help them settle into a new lifestyle. Not only can their hobby replace their addiction, it can also be used to cope with triggers. Encouraging patients to seek out the activity that helps them focus on other things can make all the difference. They can explore their own existing hobbies, get advice from others in recovery, or find something new.
The key here is finding resources on how to take part in their new hobby, so it can be helpful to have those resources on hand. Some common hobbies include:
- Physical activity: The endorphin release involved with exercise makes it a popular outlet for those experiencing addiction. Working out, going for walks, swimming, or taking part in other types of physical activity is a great way to cope with triggers.
- Creativity: Pursuits like pottery, drawing, music, painting, and crafting are all great ways to focus energy into something creative and help the mind when it’s looking to return to old habits. It can also be great for getting through the mental health struggles that can accompany addiction.
- Outdoor sports: Outdoor sports have the same endorphin release that normal exercise does with the added perk of adrenalin. Outdoor sports can also be helpful in finding a community of friends to replace old, toxic peers.
- Healthy hobbies: Any activity that provides community, offers an alternative activity to drug abuse, and is available when those with addiction experience a trigger is a great outlet. Healthy hobbies can be reading, watching movies, playing video games, and mechanics, for example.
- Spirituality: Many people in recovery find that spirituality is a great outlet for them. It offers every aspect that an outlet should offer and tends to be inspiring. Meditating, attending a church service, or reading scripture can be a helpful outlet.
Seeking Medical Intervention
The tools that work for one person may not work for another. However, some people experiencing substance abuse may find that medical intervention can help through withdrawal or to prevent relapse. Nicotine gum can help someone stop smoking, and that’s the same principle that goes into medications like methadone to treat opioid addiction and naltrexone to treat alcohol addiction. Though those with addictions to drugs like methamphetamine don’t have an option for medical intervention in the same way, patients may react well to medication to help curb withdrawal symptoms.
Treating the Issues Surrounding Addiction
Often the most helpful tool a patient can take with them along the road to recovery is to focus on treating their addiction as well as the issues surrounding their addiction. Substance abuse can be a coping mechanism for mental health issues and trauma. For this reason, it’s important to seek counseling and focus on the treatment for any mental health conditions. Similarly, addiction can also create issues that need to be treated. Substance abuse social workers are trained to work with people experiencing addiction, mental health disorders, and family issues. Without treating the issues surrounding addiction, the long-term sobriety of a patient is in jeopardy.
Leaning Into Counseling
Some of the most useful tools a patient can learn about their addiction will result from counseling. Treatment centers focused on addiction provide many different counseling options. These include peer counseling, behavioral therapy, and a variety of other options depending on the patient and their specific needs — a practice that can be particularly beneficial for teens who battle substance abuse. Counseling can teach each patient tools for dealing with triggers, how to find their outlet, and what may have been the cause of their substance abuse. Dual diagnosis is a common occurrence, and counseling can help explore the tools that can aid in treatment for both.
Having a Treatment Plan
Another helpful tool for addicts to learn in recovery is to have a treatment plan. This should include detox, treatment, counseling, medical intervention, triggers, relapse, and lifestyle changes. Going with the flow and hoping for the best through recovery isn’t enough; failing to be proactive about recovery can allow substance abuse to creep back into a person’s life. Healthcare professionals should encourage addicted patients to have a plan.
Nurses dealing with substance abuse are at the front lines of the problem and can help patients make different choices for medications that won’t put them at risk for relapse. Treatment centers can aid in detox and treatment, as can medical intervention. Free Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous classes can help in terms of peer counseling and having a plan for dealing with triggers, relapse, and making vital lifestyle changes. Patients should know that these things won’t happen unless they have a plan.
Many addicts in recovery find that they need an outlet to replace their addiction or help cope with it. They may also require medical intervention, something their healthcare provider can help them navigate. They may also need to treat any issues surrounding their addiction that may be a cause or effect of their substance abuse. Counseling is obviously a major component in long-term addiction recovery that patients should lean into for support. Finally, having a treatment plan in mind is essential. An addict should feel like their healthcare provider is advocating for their recovery, and these tools can help them get there.