Tips for Overcoming Feelings of Powerlessness In Addiction

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Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV.

Tips for Overcoming Feelings of Powerlessness In Addiction
Addiction can leave you feeling hopeless… Here are our tips to keep you up! When you admit that there is a problem in your life, then you can begin to heal… but the path isn’t easy. Whether you are suffering from anxiety and depression as a result, if a gambling addiction, an alcohol addiction, or a drug or substance abuse problem – feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, and pointlessness can be acute, heart-wrenching, and terrifying.
In our mission to provide you with the best support throughout addiction possible, we have put together this post about how you can overcome negative emotions and nip them in the but before they become a bigger issue. Powerlessness can lead you back down the rabbit hole of addiction. Let’s deal with those negative feelings as they arise and hopefully learn to keep ourselves safe.

The Hopelessness of Addiction

When you are coming off alcohol or coming off drugs you can feel completely hopeless. This is because your body, brain, and reactions instinctively make you want to reach for that substance. Since this feeling goes on for such a long time, the hopelessness starts to kick in. We feel that it is pointless to resist the pull of the substance we would normally abuse. We end up giving in to our addictive impulses, and the cycle starts over. Rehab – although a vital tool to help get you off alcohol and keep your addiction-free – cannot be there for you 24 hours a day. There will be moments (especially if you do not go to a residential rehab facility in the UK) when you will have to fight off the negative emotions of addiction on your own. For these times preparation is key. In order to keep yourself in a winning mindset – or to stop yourself from descending into the spiral of negative emotions, there are a few things you can do. We will look closely at these in a second. First of all, let’s discuss the links between mental health and addiction in more detail.

Mental Health and Addiction

Fear, anxiety, stress and depression are common symptoms encountered by a recovering addict. There are, it is estimated, four main emotions that a person experiences throughout the day. According to Transactional analysis, these four emotions are fear, happiness, sadness and anger. When you are suffering from withdrawal these emotions are much more likely to be out of balance and cause you mental health problems. The links are so strong between hopelessness, mental health, and alcohol addiction (and heroin addiction) that studies have been conducted. One study used the Beck Hopelessness Scale to acknowledge that 18 out of 20 women addicted to alcohol or heroin had a hopelessness rating of 90%. It is speculated that the women with alcohol dependency did a little better than the heroin addicts. The women with alcohol dependency believed there was a reason to have hope for the future. The others did not. The Beck Hopelessness Scale was invented to measure the loss of motivation, expectations and feelings about the future. It is a 20-item report so to score 90% is galling. Addiction, it seems, is one of the most hope-draining things you can live in your life. That being said you are here, you are reading this blog, and you are on the correct path. Let’s look next at how we can keep our minds upbeat and off our symptoms or withdrawals.

Establishing a Realistic Mindset

Establishing a realistic mindset simply means that we are going to stop thinking in certain patterns. The first step to doing this is to recognise when your thoughts stray into dangerous territory. This is simple when you are a recovering addict because you have already identified your triggers. Triggers are what make the negative emotions prompt us back towards our old negative habits. If we can identify them, recognise them, and change them, we are already on the road to success. As it is with your triggers towards addiction – so it is with your thoughts. If you become too stressed, overtired, or don’t eat the right nutrients, you can spiral downwards in thought patterns more easily than normal. Have you ever noticed that when you wake up in the morning, you have a few hours of near-complete clarity? Imagine this is your thought pattern all the time. The more tired you get, the more stress is put on your system. Likewise, if you don’t put the correct fuel in, you will always be running at a loss. To give yourself the best chance at having good mental health throughout recovery, you should:
  • Eat right – getting the correct balance of nutrients is vital for the full, optimal functioning of your body.
  • Sleep right – getting enough sleep is essential to allow our bodies to heal and our brains to process.
  • Drink right – plenty of water helps keep you hydrated. Did you know mental fog is a symptom of dehydration? Don’t let it cloud your judgment.
  • Avoid stress – stress is a huge trigger no matter who you are or where you are on the path to recovery. Too much stress can see you spiral. Limit your exposure to it.

Avoiding Stress

Stress has a terrible impact on your mental health – in recovery from alcohol addiction or not! To give yourself the best chance to avoid self-destructive thinking, limit your exposure to stress. This may mean changing to a more manageable job, taking on some help at home, or asking family members to take on a more important household role. The important thing is that you avoid as much stress as possible. This is easier said than done. Take tips from our previous article regarding self-care and follow the advice above and you should have the best chances at success.

What If You Spiral?

If, despite your best efforts, you end up on a downward spiral, getting help is the most important thing to do. There is no need to fight those demons alone. That is why rehab exists – and it is why we exist, here at Help 4 Addiction.

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