Managing Dual Diagnosis: Learning to Maintain Mental Well-Being in Recovery

Managing Dual Diagnosis: Learning to Maintain Mental Well-Being in Recovery

Your mental well-being is an invaluable part of your health and your ability to heal. Poor mental well-being is often reflected in the presence of challenges with substance use disorder (SUD) and other mental health disorders. As stated in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 21.5 million adults in the United States have a co-occurring disorder. Together, co-occurring disorders can be disruptive to your daily life. Therefore, understanding mental well-being can support managing and healing the physical and psychological symptoms of dual diagnosis.

At Driftwood Recovery, we know an approach founded on an attachment-based is vital to maintaining recovery. With a commitment to attachment, we give you access to the tools and connections you need to heal. Through an attachment approach to care, our alumni community creates a space where compassion, understanding, and guidance become second nature. Thus, through connection and community found in attachment, you can thrive.

Whether you are in early recovery or have been on your recovery journey for years, you can lose sight of your mental well-being. It can be easy to get caught up in the sobriety aspect of your recovery and slack on the tools you have learned. While not using substances is an important part of recovery, your mental well-being plays a vital role in how you experience SUD and other mental health disorders. As a result, understanding the relationship between SUD and other mental health disorders is important for sustained recovery.

Understanding Co-Occurring SUD and Mental Health Disorders

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), SUD often accompanies other mental illnesses and vice versa. However, despite the prevalence of co-occurring disorders, they are not necessarily the direct cause of each other. SUD and other mental health disorders share a bidirectional relationship, which, as the NIMH notes, there are three possibilities for their high co-occurrence:

  • Shared factors like genetics, family history, and environmental challenges
  • Challenges with mental health disorders can contribute to self-medicating with substances
    • Certain drugs can temporarily alleviate symptoms but will exacerbate those symptoms over time
    • Changes in the brain can enhance the reward effects of substances
  • Difficulties with SUD can contribute to the development or exacerbation of mental health disorders
    • Substance use can trigger changes in brain structure and function

Looking at the interrelated relationship between SUD and mental health disorders highlights the importance of mental well-being in healing.

What Is Mental Well-Being?

Your mental well-being is an important indicator of your physical and psychological health. Thus, understanding mental well-being is valuable to helping you sustain your recovery. Yet, you may question what is mental health and mental well-being. Although they are often used interchangeably, mental health and mental well-being can be different. According to Medline Plus, mental health usually encompasses emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Your mental health influences how you think, feel, and act as you respond to and cope with life.

However, as noted in “Mental Health vs Mental Wellbeing: Is There a Difference?” from Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, holistic models allow you to see your health from multiple dimensions. Therefore, mental well-being is a broader, proactive, and positive view that encompasses emotional/mental, financial, physical, and social well-being. In addition, mental well-being is also your capacity for resilience to prepare for and manage life challenges. Thus, a holistic perspective showcases that poor mental well-being is a risk factor for the development and relapse of SUD and other mental health disorders.

Relapse Prevention: Importance of Mental Well-Being for Recovery

As stated in Addiction Relapse Prevention by Nicholas Guenzel et al., relapse is a process rather than an event. Thus, the process of relapse has three main stages: emotional, mental, and physical relapse.

  • Emotional: Denying risk factors prevents you from using adaptive coping skills
  • Mental: An active internal tug-of-war between the desire to use substances and the desire to maintain sobriety
  • Physical: A lapse in which you initiate the use of a substance or a relapse, which is the uncontrolled use of a substance

The emotional and mental stages of relapse highlight the significance of mental well-being for coping with distress in recovery. Therefore, making efforts to support your mental well-being can help prevent the process of relapse to support maintaining your recovery.

Addressing Risk Factors for Poor Mental Well-being

Understanding risk factors for poor mental well-being can give you insight into how to reduce your risk for relapse. As noted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), recovery is a lifelong process that requires healthy changes to multiple domains in your daily life. Your physical, behavioral, communication, psychological, and social spheres are all important components in maintaining recovery. Without a commitment to healing the whole of your parts, your mental well-being risk factors can include:

  • Low self-efficacy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Poor use of adaptive coping skills
  • Inadequate social and emotional support

Despite the harm that comes from poor mental well-being, healing is still possible. You can support your recovery by practicing the tools you learned in treatment throughout your life.

Fostering Tools for Sustained Recovery at Driftwood Recovery

Some of the ways you can continue to support your mental health and mental well-being in recovery include:

  • Support network
  • Physical activity
  • Spending time in nature
  • Mindfulness
  • Participating in hobbies
  • Building a sleep routine
  • Volunteering

You can enhance your mental well-being in a variety of ways. In particular, reaching out for support from your trusted network is invaluable to recovery. At Driftwood Recovery, we believe our alumni family can give you the encouragement, accountability, and services you need to thrive. Through our alumni program, you have access to a variety of individual and community resources. From weekly meetings and family support groups to educational and volunteer opportunities, you are reminded that you are not alone. No matter where you are on your journey, we are here to support you in building a courageous life in recovery.

Your mental well-being is an important component of sustained recovery. Yet, in recovery, you may deny the risk factors for relapse and have a lapse in using adaptive coping strategies, which can disrupt healing. When you neglect your mental health and well-being in recovery, you increase your risk for psychological distress and relapse. However, you can support the lifelong process of recovery by engaging in tools that address your needs as a whole person. With an attachment approach, you can support your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Therefore, at Driftwood Recovery, we are dedicated to providing a robust array of services and resources for alumni to meet you where you are. Call us at (512) 759-8330 to learn more today.