By Michelle Peterson
When a person suffers from a drug or alcohol addiction, their substance abuse disconnects them from the rest of the world. People lose romantic relationships, friends, and family. Drugs and alcohol end up wreaking havoc on both their physical and mental health.
How to Treat Addiction
Most health professionals now regard addiction as a disease. Like many diseases, there is no cure, but there are ways to treat it and its symptoms. Treating addiction takes a multifaceted approach. First and foremost, a person dealing with addiction must recognize they have a problem. If they are in denial, they will continue using, even while practicing sobriety in front of others. Recognizing an addiction and ceasing all drug and alcohol use are essential to recovery.
Beyond those two things, addiction treatment can vary from person to person. The addict must address the mental and physical health issues their drug or alcohol abuse created. To do so, they must consult their physician as well as seeking counseling. A physician can help diagnose issues resulting from drug or alcohol abuse. Substance abuse can cause illnesses and issues including disease of the liver, kidneys, heart, and lungs. They may also prescribe medications that help with withdrawal, cravings, and underlying issues like depression or anxiety.
One-on-one therapy is helpful when it comes to addressing personal triggers and underlying issues, but other types of therapy may be helpful. Family and couples counseling can help with fractured relationships. Therapists may also use specialized techniques such as art or music therapy to help their patient express themselves and come to terms with difficult emotions.
Lifestyle Changes for Sobriety
People struggling with addiction must also make serious lifestyle changes to support their sobriety.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
- Start a healthy diet full of whole grains, lean proteins, and fresh produce.
- Exercise helps reverse the neurological damage inflicted by drug and alcohol abuse while reducing pain, cravings, and feelings of anxiety.
- Hobbies help distract a person from drugs and alcohol while helping to rebuild self-esteem and discipline lost to addiction.
- Practicing mindfulness through meditation helps turn off the “wanting mind” in order to reduce cravings and negative emotions.
How the Great Outdoors Can Help Addiction Recovery
All of the things outlined above contribute to a sober lifestyle, but those suffering from addiction can add to their efforts by spending more time outdoors. Nature is therapeutic. In fact, people have developed a type of therapy — called ecotherapy — that uses nature-based exercises intended to address both mental and physical health.
Being outside provides fresh air and sunshine that help inspire feelings of wellness. Fresh air wakes the brain and improves its overall function. Absorbing vitamin D from the sun relieves feelings of depression and fatigue. The great outdoors also help cultivate mindfulness and exercise, two major players when it comes to healing and addiction recovery.
Tips for Spending More Time Outdoors
- If you have a dog (something to consider for the various health benefits), spending time outdoors together is perfect for bonding and their overall well-being. You can also work on earning a little extra cash by signing up for a dog walking service that connects you with pet owners who need help exercising their pups.
- Instead of driving or using public transportation, take a little extra time to walk where you need to go.
- Next time you plan to spend time with friends or family, organize a picnic where you can eat, drink, and play outdoors.
- If the weather is good, transition your exercise routine to the outdoors. Instead of spending time going nowhere on the treadmill, work your body by going hiking.
- Instead of pouring yourself another cup of coffee during a long workday, take a five-minute break with a stroll outdoors. The fresh air and sunshine will perk you up better than caffeine.
Addiction is a disease with no cure. However, certain treatments and lifestyle changes can help a person maintain the disease and its symptoms. Adding outdoor time to addiction recovery efforts helps improve fitness and mindfulness while inspiring feelings of well-being and promoting healing.
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