Successful recovery has many pillars – attending therapy and support meetings, practicing self-care, and prioritizing mental health. Another pillar of successful recovery is physical wellness. Every area of our lives can directly impact our mental health, especially when substance use disorder (SUD) is involved. That includes taking care of ourselves physically. Being mindful about what you put into your body, getting enough sleep, and treating yourself with respect is paramount to maintaining recovery and improving mental health.
The hustle and bustle of everyday life can make it challenging to prioritize your physical well-being. Time in treatment is supposed to help you abstain and recover from SUD. However, it can also be a time to reevaluate your life, discover what truly matters, and learn how to prioritize mental and physical health.
The Effects of Substance Use on Physical Wellness
One reason you must begin prioritizing physical wellness is because of the detrimental effects substance use has on the body. The effects of substance use on your body depend on the substance in question. However, in any case, long-term substance use causes other chronic conditions to develop and can be lethal.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Excessive Drinking
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains the dangers and potential effects of excessive drinking. For men, it defines excessive drinking, or binge drinking, as five or more drinks “in a single occasion.” Heavy drinking, according to the CDC, is when men have “15 or more drinks per week.”
The CDC describes the short-term health risks associated with excessive drinking as follows:
- Injuries from car crashes or other accidents that may occur due to drinking
- Violent acts that may include homicide, suicide, domestic violence, or sexual assault
- Alcohol poisoning – “when there is too much alcohol in the bloodstream that areas of the brain that control basic life support functions” shut down
- Risk behaviors, such as driving under the influence or engaging in unprotected sex, which can result in unplanned pregnancies and HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Some of the long-term risks the CDC identifies include:
- The development of chronic conditions like high blood pressure or liver and heart disease and other health complications, including stroke or digestive problems
- Cancer, including cancers of the breast, mouth, throat, and liver
- A weakened immune system
- Problems with cognitive function, including memory loss or dementia
- The development of chronic mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety
- Other social or financial issues, work trouble, relationship problems, or unemployment
How Do Drugs Affect the Brain and Body?
Just like alcohol, drugs can have a severe impact on your brain and body. Different drugs have varying effects on the person depending on the drug and the person. For example, drug strength, your body size and general health, and other factors may impact the short- and long-term effects.
Men will typically turn to drug use to experience the short-term effects of that drug. That may include feeling euphoric, helping them relax, enhancing social awareness, or the ability to cope with other mental health conditions or co-occurring disorders.
Despite the various factors that can influence the effect of drugs on the brain and body, drug use can cause potential harm, including:
- Consequences of risky behavior
- Lack of or increased appetite, leading to weight changes
- Similar to excessive alcohol consumption, drug use can cause chronic health conditions like problems with the liver, kidney, or heart
- Changes in behavior, such as acting moody, erratic, or aggressive
- The development of mental health conditions or severe psychosis
- Irregular and unhealthy sleeping patterns and the potential development of sleep disorders
- Damaged veins or contracted diseases from injecting substances
- Problems at work, school, or within professional and personal relationships
Why You Should Prioritize Your Physical Wellness
Though many short- and long-term risks associated with excessive and drug use are social consequences, you can also see the impact of substance use on the body. For the sake of preventing chronic health conditions and other complications, individuals should seek treatment. Seeking treatment is the first way you can prioritize your physical wellness. For example, detox consists of ridding your body of any drugs and alcohol in your system. Only after purifying your body of these toxins can it truly begin its healing process.
Other ways you can prioritize your physical wellness include:
- Eating healthier foods
- Incorporating more physical activity into your day
- Being mindful about what you put into your body
- Carving out time throughout the week to relax and give your mind and body a break
- Practicing different forms of self-care, such as yoga, meditation, or breathwork
Most of these things are excellent for your physical wellness and can also improve your mental well-being. A life of recovery requires life changes. Make the changes necessary to improve your physical well-being, and start your recovery today.
Addiction recovery has a lot of moving parts. There are a number of life changes you must make in order to maintain sobriety long-term. You can do a few things to help the process. For example, in addition to going to work or school and taking care of family or other loved ones, individuals should attend therapy and support group meetings and prioritize taking care of their mental and physical health. One way to maintain your recovery is to prioritize physical wellness. That includes practicing self-care, eating right, and being mindful of how you treat your body. For more tips about practicing physical wellness and maintaining recovery, call Healing Pines Recovery at (720) 575-2621 today.