Self-Care in Recovery

Self-Care in Recovery

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(Part 1 in a 2-Part Series) 

Addicts often neglect personal hygiene and other matters relative to self-care. Reasons for this vary: loss of self-worth, drug-induced fatigue, financial struggles, general malaise about everything they were attempting to numb with drug or alcohol use in the first place. Whatever the underlying reasons, neglecting personal care comes naturally to most people who are in the throes of addiction. That's one of the reasons reversing the habit is so important to recovery.  

When Drugs Call the Ball
Self-nurture is the polar opposite of addiction. Addicts sacrifice virtually everything at the altar of their preferred substance. In most cases, the Drug of Choice (DOC) calls the shots more often than the user. People in recovery struggle to ignore the commands of their mis-firing brains to do anything and everything to score the next hit. To the drug-addled brain, everything is subservient to drug use -- including (but not limited to) sleeping, eating, bathing, laundry, as well as seeking treatment of medical doctors, dentists, hairstylists or mental health professionals. 

While not every addict exhibits counterintuitive behavior, most do, to at least some degree. Unwilling to devote time, money and energy to anything other than drug use, people in recovery report their drug-induced behavior led them to commit nonsensical acts:

  • Cutting out wads of tangled hair rather than taking time to comb out the mess.
  • Opting to spend the only money they have on the DOC rather than for food or shelter.
  • Ignoring associated obvious signs of physical duress, such as dry eyes and associated vision disturbances, tooth decay, profound halitosis and body odor, hair loss and more. 

Reverse the Trend
To combat self-destructive tendencies, addiction recovery specialists encourage people in recovery to prioritize self-care. Here are 10 tips for doing just that: (Five appear below. Check back next week to read five more tips for healthy selfcare.)

1. Sleep
Drug and alcohol use often disrupts sleep. In fact, WebMD reports: "Alcohol often is thought of as a sedative or calming drug. However, while alcohol may induce sleep, the quality of sleep is often fragmented during the second half of the sleep period, when the alcohol's relaxing effect wears off. As a result, alcohol-induced sleep prevents you from getting the deep sleep you need."

When it comes to sleep, drugs are no better. According to the Cleveland Clinic, "Sleep disturbances have been associated with drug use and drug abuse. (Both) prescription and non-prescription medicines can cause sleep problems."

2. Eat
Eating disorders commonly co-occur with addiction. Many types of drugs suppress or increase appetite. Meth users often go days without eating. The tendency of marijuana smokers to experience the "munchies" has often been portrayed in popular culture. Good nutrition is foundational to repairing a body that has been subjected to prolonged drug and/or alcohol abuse. So, one of the most important steps toward recovery is to eat healthy food and drink plenty of water. 

3. Bathe
To most of us, showering on a regular basis is a no-brainer. To the addict, such is not the case. Many admit that they wanted to expend only that effort that would bring them the next hit. Then, while they were under the influence, they did not want to do anything that could potentially diminish the high. When you're in recovery, commit to taking care of yourself every day. Revel in the fact that it feels good not just to get clean figuratively, but literally. 

4. Brush your teeth
Addiction often causes tooth decay. This is owed in part to the associated poor eating choices that so often accompany alcohol and drug use but is also often a side effect of drugs such as Methamphetamine. Other drugs can lead to dry mouth, which fosters dental decay. Another side effect to addiction is that most addicts neglect routine dental care, which can compromise dental health.

5. Exercise
Physical activity promotes health for everyone, not just former drug addicts and alcoholics. Find something you like to do and do it at least five times each week for cardiovascular, muscle mass, and mental health benefits. Your exercise routine need not be complicated. Walking works. Another plus? Going to the gym or heading to the track consumes time, eliminating boredom that could lead to relapse. 

Check back next week to read five more tips for self-care in recovery. 

About MFI Recovery Center 
Throughout 10 facilities in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, we employ the Matrix Model, creating a personalized treatment program for each client. Various modalities can include behavior modification, 12-Step program introduction, cognitive behavioral therapy, and family systems techniques, including the family in group therapy. Treatment options include outpatient and inpatient detox, medication management (if appropriate), group therapy, individual therapy, relapse prevention education, and ongoing support after treatment. To find out more, call today (866) 218-4697, or for non-admission related information, contact us at (951) 683-6596. 

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