Nobody wants to be self-destructive or to cause harm to themselves. When someone is engaging in self-destructive behaviors, it comes from a place where they are trying to find relief or even pleasure for themselves, but their attempt is an ineffective or harmful means. If you know or suspect that a loved one is engaging in self-destructive behaviors, it may be time to find a way to help.
What Are Self-Destructive Behaviors?
Also known as dysregulated behaviors, self-destructive behaviors are when a person engages in a behavior to cause emotional or physical self-harm. Some self-destructive behaviors are:
- Self-injury such as cutting, scratching (to the point of bleeding), hair pulling, burning, biting, or hitting themselves
- Binge eating
- Excessive substance misuse
- Impulsive and risky sexual behavior
- Constantly belittling and putting themselves down
- Depriving oneself to sleep
- Seeking toxic relationships or staying with someone abusive to them
- Constantly changing themselves to please others
- Isolating themselves
- Compulsive gambling or shopping
- Intense procrastination
- Attempting suicide
People who struggle with self-destructive behaviors can differ dramatically. Some choose to engage in some or all of these behaviors. The frequency and severity vary from person to person, but engaging in any of these behaviors for any duration can cause severe emotional and physical damage.
Where Drives Them to Engage in Self-Destructive Behaviors?
As human beings, people engage in behaviors to satisfy a physical or psychological need. For some, their instincts help them by finding healthy solutions; for others, their instincts are misguided by trauma or mental illness.
According to The Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, self-destructive behaviors are significantly correlated to mental illness and childhood abuse. A person’s self-help skills are shaped during their childhood and how their caregivers met their emotional needs. When a person’s needs have historically not been met, their instincts are shaped to reject their own needs leaving them to pursue poor solutions for their problems.
Your loved one is not engaging in this behavior because they don’t want to be healthy or don’t want to improve. They just truly feel like they are unable to achieve their hopes and dreams or that they are worthy of achieving them.
Helping Your Loved One
Everyone wants to see our loved ones thrive, and when they’re hurting, we want to do everything possible to help them. One of the most important things to remember is that no matter how much you love someone or how hard you try to help them, you can’t force them to stop engaging in self-destructive behaviors. Even when you plead with them, and they still do it, this is not a testament to how much they love you — it is challenging for them to stop engaging in self-harming behavior.
Our loved ones want to help themselves, and they want to be helped; they are just struggling to find the right way to do so. Self-sabotage and self-harm tend to come from a lack of self-love. One of the best ways to help those with low self-esteem or who lack self-love is to show them that they are loveable and they matter.
Here are some dos and don’ts to help you help your loved one:
- Don’t give your loved one ultimatums like, “If you don’t quit cutting, you have to move out.”
- Don’t guilt them by saying things like, “If you loved me, you wouldn’t be hurting yourself.”
- Don’t use shame or humiliation.
- Don’t take their actions personally. This behavior has nothing to do with you.
- Don’t constantly remind them that they are defective, sick, or that they need help.
- Don’t obsess over their behaviors or neglect your personal needs or other family members such as other children.
- Don’t become their therapist. You can love them and listen to them, but you can’t replace the guidance from a trained professional.
- Do remind your loved ones that you love them and care about their mental and physical well-being.
- Do show them compassion.
- Do listen to them without judgment.
- Do hear them out. If your loved one is willing to talk to you, chances are they just want to be heard. They aren’t looking for you to fix them, just hear them and show them support.
- Do remind them that they are worthy of love and support.
- Do learn about the behaviors your loved one is engaging in to help you understand the behavior and the type of support you can give.
- Do seek support for yourself that will help you safely process your feelings and to set and hold healthy boundaries. Remember, you can’t help anyone if you’re not mentally or physically strong enough either.
- Do know and accept that you have the right to end a relationship with someone who isn’t healthy for you. You can do your best to help your loved ones, but you cannot make them change.
Watching our loved ones engage in self-destructive behaviors is painful. It’s heartbreaking and something no one wants to endure. Unfortunately, sometimes our loved ones are hurting and engage in self-harm behaviors as a means to relieve themselves, at least for a short duration. Learning why our loved ones engage in these behaviors can be extremely helpful. It’s important for us to know what we can say or do to help support our loved ones and to help ourselves maneuver through these uncharted waters. If you have a loved one looking for a professional to manage their self-destructive behavior, or you need assistance helping to support yourself and your loved ones, reach out to Sober Life today. Our team is equipped to help you through this difficult time. If you’re not located in the San Diego area, we can still help. Call Sober life today to learn about our different options. Call Sober Life now at (619) 542-9542.
In society, a great deal of importance is placed on caring and showing compassion for others, and although it is important to be kind to others, it’s also important to be kind to yourself. One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to practice self-care.
Self-Care or Selfish?
Self-care is not synonymous with being selfish. Instead, self-care means that you are taking care of yourself to be the healthiest version of yourself. When you practice self-care, you are helping yourself become a better mom, dad, student, child–literally every aspect of your being can improve when you make self-care a priority.
Adding self-care into your daily regimen should never be confused with being selfish or self-centered. Many people feel as though they just don’t have the time to add self-care into their daily regimen. Their plates are already full, and it just seems like an inconvenience to take time to do something like yoga, a nap, or a day at the salon.
You are not an inconvenience, and making time for yourself should never be viewed as an inconvenience — your mind and body matter. In order for you to thrive, you need to take breaks, indulge in activities that bring you energy (both mentally and physically), or go to talk therapy.
What Are The Benefits of Self-Care?
Self-care is a great way to help people cope with daily stressors like work stress, home life, or commuter traffic. If you have a history of constantly caring for others while forgetting to care for yourself, this can cause stress, resentment, and other negative emotions. It’s also not healthy for your mind, body, or soul. You can’t be there for your loved ones if you’re running yourself into complete exhaustion. You need to take the time to do something nice for yourself, recharge, and reinitiate those energy levels!
A study conducted by the Journal of Psychosomatic Research illustrated that when a person adds self-care to their daily regimen, they can reduce stress, decrease the chance of mental and physical ailment, increase productivity in all aspects of their life, and inspire positive emotions. When you prioritize your mental and physical health, you can approach life with a clear, happy mind while promoting healthy brain function.
What Does Self-Care Look Like?
Self-care looks different for every person, but it includes everything related to staying physically and mentally healthy. This could mean:
- Taking care of your personal hygiene
- Fueling your body with the right nutrition
- Seeking medical care as needed
When a person engages in a step that improves their mental and physical well-being, it helps to manage their stressors in life. Here are a few more examples of self-care:
Unplug. Society today is part of an age where most are glued to a device. Although social platforms like Instagram and Facebook can bring satisfaction, they can also negatively affect a person’s well-being. These types of platforms can create false realities. They can promote unhealthy body images or cause people to compare themselves to others. Take the time to break away from social media. Follow accounts that truly inspire you and that don’t cause you to feel negative about yourself.
Set Boundaries. One of the best things you can do for your well-being is to set boundaries in your life and stick to them. One of the easiest (and hardest) things you can do to set a boundary is to learn how to say no. At work, at home, in your relationships, know your limits. Delegate things at work, divide household chores or identify a day where you take a step back from everything and just be.
Eat Balanced Meals. Food fuels your body and mind. Food is essential for life, and there are plenty of healthy and whole foods that support healthy growth and happiness. When you consume healthy portions of nutritional food, you fuel your body with the tools it needs to thrive. Furthermore, take the time to sit and enjoy your meal. Treat yourself to extended mealtime and a chance to thoroughly enjoy your meal with someone you love or by yourself.
Treat Yourself. Treating yourself can look different for you than for others, and that’s okay. Treating yourself could mean a trip somewhere, even if it’s just to a mall or favorite shop. This could also mean a gym membership, a run around the block, enjoying indulgent food you don’t get often, or even getting lost in your favorite series. Taking the time to enjoy what matters most to you is a treat that you deserve.
Practicing self-care should be a priority for each of us. Sometimes we feel as though we do not have the time or the means or that it is selfish if we do something for ourselves. None of this is true. When we practice self-care, we are helping ourselves be our best versions — both mentally and physically. If you or someone you love needs help with self-care methods, reach out to the Sober Life team. Don’t feel like you have the time to make yourself a priority? We get that, and we are here to help you at any time. We have a caring and compassionate team eager to help you become the best version of yourself. At Sober Life, we can also provide virtual assistance. Don’t wait any longer. You deserve to live a life with no too little stress. Call Sober Life Recovery Solutions today at (619) 542-9542.
Experiencing unwanted intrusive thoughts can feel exhausting and uncomfortable. They tend to come out of nowhere without any warning and cause a great deal of negative emotions. For some people, they are often repetitive and can be disturbing or even distressing. The unwelcomed thoughts can be in the form of images, sounds, or statements.
What Is an Intrusive Thought?
An intrusive thought is a thought that interrupts normal thinking and concentration. An intrusive thought could be anything and vary in the degree of disturbance. According to Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, those who display a large number of intrusive thoughts have a heightened inner-monologue or stronger habitual inner speech process.
For some individuals, their intrusive thoughts can leave them feeling anxious, ashamed, or even afraid that they’ll commit the act they have pictured in their minds. The thoughts may be about their relationships, future decisions, sexual orientation, religion, death, or just uncommon thoughts that leave them consumed with uncertainty. Those left feeling ashamed or worried tend to keep their thoughts secret in fear of being judged.
The reality is, intrusive thoughts are normal. All people experience them. The difference is that some individuals have a hard time managing their intrusive thoughts.
The intrusive thoughts that can characterize anxiety are involuntary. They do not suggest that a person is going to engage in the behavior. As a matter of fact, people who experience these thoughts typically find them shocking and unacceptable.
Why Do We Get Intrusive Thoughts?
Everyone experiences intrusive thoughts, but others are more susceptible to experiencing them at more alarming (or uncomfortable) rates. For individuals who are prone to anxiety or depression, intrusive thoughts can be more prevalent.
Intrusive thoughts can be the result of an underlying mental health issue such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experience intrusive thoughts that can be connected to the traumatic event. These thoughts may trigger some physical symptoms associated with PTSD.
Common Intrusive Thoughts
A list of common intrusive thoughts that people experience include:
- Fear-based thoughts of behaviors that you may engage in that are inappropriate or that leave you feeling embarrassed
- Fear-based thoughts that have acquired a disease even though there is no rational evidence to support it
- Flashbacks to unpleasant experiences from your past.
- Inappropriate thoughts or images of sex
- Thoughts of committing illegal or violent acts.
- Fear-based thoughts of being sexually attracted to family members, children, or the opposite sex
- Overanalyzing the strength of a relationship
Managing Your Intrusive Thoughts
One may not know it at the time, but they may be reinforcing these unwanted intrusive thoughts by becoming consumed with them. It’s hard not to get entangled within intrusive thought patterns, but there is a better way to manage them.
Here are a few steps that a person can take to overcome unwanted intrusive thoughts:
- Label these thoughts as “intrusive thoughts.”
- Remind yourself that these are “automatic” thoughts that you do not have control of.
- Remember, they are just thoughts.
- Do not try to push them away. Let them be, and let them gradually go.
- Give yourself time. No one needs to put a timeline on their thoughts.
- Expect and accept that these thoughts can come back again
- Don’t skip a beat. Stay focused on whatever you were doing before the intrusive thought while allowing the anxiety to be present.
- Practice self-care strategies that manage and decrease stress, such as yoga and other mindfulness activities.
Things you should avoid:
- Engaging with the thoughts in any way.
- Forcing yourself to push the thoughts out of your mind.
- Trying to figure out or rationalizing what these thoughts could possibly mean.
Effective strategies take time. Give yourself grace when trying to figure out how to manage your intrusive thoughts.
Seeking Professional Help
Although one of the best ways to manage intrusive thoughts is to reduce your sensitivity to the thought, here are some other strategies that can help you:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy is a great way to help discuss distressing thoughts with a mental health expert who can help you develop healthy responses to your intrusive thoughts.
- Meditation. Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and other calming activities teach incredible strategies for calming the mind and centering away from intrusive thoughts that feel shocking or harmful. Implementing these strategies can help a person self-regulate again and remain calm through a particularly disturbing intrusive thought.
Intrusive thoughts are powerful. Their unusual nature can cause a person serious distress and anxiety. Remember, though; intrusive thoughts are just thoughts; they do not define you. If your intrusive thoughts interfere with your day-to-day life, reach out to a healthcare provider or a mental health professional for guidance.
It is tough when your mind is consumed with thoughts that make you uncomfortable or that leave you feeling ashamed. Intrusive thoughts are unwanted and uncontrollable thoughts that all people have to deal with; some are just better at managing these thoughts. You are not alone, and you have nothing to be ashamed of. We want to help you create the tools you need to manage your intrusive thoughts before they are able to consume your ability to live your fullest life. If you are having intrusive thoughts that have become burdensome or bothersome to you, reach out to Sober Life today. Our team is equipped with not only the knowledge but the passion for helping you learn more about your intrusive thoughts while finding the best strategies to help you along this journey. Remember, you don’t have to be on this journey alone. Call Sober Life now at (619) 542-9542.
Withdrawal is one of the biggest challenges that individuals face when going through recovery. It’s one of the reasons why so many people are scared to become sober, as the withdrawal symptoms are mentally and physically painful.
Drugs and alcohol change the chemical makeup of the brain. When a person abuses drugs, they can develop a significant physiological dependence, especially when consuming a large amount consistently. Many people who become dependent on a substance are at risk of experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop using their drug of choice.
Additionally, substances such as alcohol and opioids can be extremely dangerous when a person attempts to quit “cold turkey” or suddenly. Withdrawal symptoms can be significant and even life-threatening.
What Is Withdrawal?
Withdrawal is a combination of physical and mental effects that a person can experience after quitting or reducing their intake of a substance such as alcohol or recreational drugs.
Side effects of drug withdrawal vary to each person based on several things, including how long the person has been using for, what substances they’ve been using, and the amount they have been using. Some of the side effects individuals make experience may include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Muscle aches
- Depression and anxiety
- Irregular heart rate
- Short-term memory loss
- Suicidal thoughts
Heroin and Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
Heroin belongs to the opioid class of drugs; therefore, many symptoms will be similar, if not the same. Although withdrawal from either heroin or other opioids is rarely associated with life-threatening complications, the symptoms can lead to immense physical and psychological distress, increasing the risk of a person relapsing. Acute opioid withdrawal syndrome can include the following symptoms:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Hot and cold flashes
- Runny nose
- Muscle cramps, or severe body aches
When a person abruptly stops using cocaine, they may experience a severe negative effect on their mood. Although cocaine withdrawal is rarely dangerous, a dependent user can experience distressing psychological symptoms, such as:
- Depressed mood
- Psychotic episodes
Although alcohol consumption is legal for those 21 years and older, it is the most consumed addictive substance in the United States. Those who have an alcohol dependence may be at risk of severe withdrawal and should never quit “cold turkey” as there is an increased chance of life-threatening symptoms. Those with alcohol dependence may experience the following symptoms:
- Delirium Tremens
How Can I Manage My Withdrawal Symptoms?
As always, remember everyone’s journey is unique to them, as are the symptoms. Here’s a list of ways that can help you with withdrawal symptoms:
- Attend a Medical Detox Program. Going through withdrawal from any substance can be painful (both mentally and physically), but it can also be dangerous or fatal without proper treatment. Individuals can attend a medical detox program that can last 5-10 days on average that provides around-the-clock supervision with medical management for withdrawal. With the help of a medical professional, cravings and symptoms can be managed with medications, as well as medical support keeping patients safe.
- Exercise Regularly. When you exercise regularly you are helping your brain to release endorphins that can restore chemical balance-naturally. Exercise can also help reduce stress while also enhancing a person’s self-esteem. A study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry showed that individuals who engaged in regular exercise were able to minimize their chance of relapse and decrease compulsive drug use and cravings. There are many different forms of exercise that a person can enjoy such as weight lifting, going for a walk, or joining a yoga class, each one enhancing mental health and stability during withdrawal.
- Eat Nutritious Meals. Diet plays a huge role in improving your mind and body. When you consume meals that are rich in protein and essential vitamins you are helping your body to restore healthy brain functioning. When you consume alcohol or substances you are depleting your body of what it actually needs, therefore preventing your from running efficiently and to its full potential. Try introducing nutrients that help to expedite healing such as fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins.
- Get Adequate Sleep. A good night’s sleep is crucial. Proper amounts of sleep can help with healing and emotional health. When your body is well-rested, you are able to think clearly and help control your mood swings and cravings.
- Join a Support Group. Being around others who understand what you’re going through creates a safe space for you. Joining groups similar to 12-Step programs can offer individuals encouragement and tips to new members from those who have gone through withdrawal. Receiving support during withdrawal can help minimize the risk of relapse.
Having support throughout your recovery is crucial. Finding a detox facility that understands what you’re going through during your withdrawal period and who can be there to successfully manage your symptoms will help you immensely during this difficult time. At Sober Life Recovery Solutions in San Diego, California, we offer an assortment of programs to meet your needs. If you cannot make it to a facility, we offer substance abuse and recovery care through our Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program. Our facility provides both inpatient and outpatient care assisting those struggling with not only substance use disorders but mental health disorders as well. You do not need to go through recovery alone. Withdrawing from a substance can be life-threatening. Reach out to Sober Life Addiction Recovery today to learn how we can help you during this difficult time. We understand addiction because we’ve been there too. Don’t wait any longer. Call (619) 542-9542.
Experiencing stress is normal, but for those in recovery, stress and anxiety can make the process more difficult. The relationship between stress and addiction is well-documented, and for individuals pursuing sobriety, stress can make long-term recovery more challenging and increase the risk of relapse.
Learning about the connection between stress, addiction, and recovery, as well as how you can effectively manage your stress, can help you face recovery directly and avoid unnecessary tension that may hinder your progress.
Stress and Addiction
Studies show that individuals who are exposed to stress are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol in their lifetime. The physical, mental, and emotional effects of stress can be difficult to endure. Short-term symptoms of stress may include excessive sweating, racing heartbeat, and headaches, while long-term stress can cause problems like insomnia, indecision, back pain, and high blood pressure. Distracting yourself from the source of your stress may provide temporary relief, but individuals who use drugs or alcohol in response to stress are often more prone to addiction.
Suffering from chronic stress can result in elevated hormone levels that can drive individuals to self-medicate. When stress hormones and the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), which increases as a response to stress, are not properly regulated by the body and/or are not mitigated when the source of stress is removed, individuals develop an increased risk of acquiring a substance abuse disorder in their pursuit of relief.
The use of alcohol or drugs to cope with stress results in a harmful cycle as drug use can also result in excessive amounts of CRF in the brain. By self-medicating, individuals may make themselves more vulnerable and sensitive to future stressors, perpetuating the cycle further.
Stress, Recovery, and Relapse
In recovery, many individuals inevitably experience stress due to symptoms of withdrawal, peer pressure, and fear of failure. Pursuing recovery not only means abstaining from using substances but also trying to rebuild your life, and the difficulty of these joint tasks can cause anxiety and fear. Experiencing stress in recovery can trigger a relapse, making it imperative for individuals to recognize and combat stressors when possible.
Experiencing stress during recovery can also result in mental and physical issues, making it difficult to focus on achieving sobriety. When you are worn down from stressors, high hormone levels, and the long-term effects of stress, recovery can be more challenging to pursue.
When working toward recovering from a substance use disorder, individuals experiencing overwhelming stress tend to have increased cravings and anxiety, which can result in relapse. Research regarding the relationship between stress and relapse is still incomplete. However, early studies suggest that reducing stress, improving stress coping skills, and identifying any stress-related risk factors could help limit the risk that recovering individuals have of relapsing.
Stress Management Tips for Sobriety
For those in recovery, finding ways to maintain sobriety and resist relapse is a common goal. While it is important to remember that relapse never correlates to failure, reducing the factors that could result in relapse can help you feel more secure and stable on your recovery journey. Managing stress can be a critical element of this initiative. Stress is a part of life, but learning how to combat stressors and cope with stress as it occurs can help reduce the negative impacts stress can have on the mind and body.
If you do not know how to reduce or cope with stress on your own, consider reaching out to loved ones you trust, mental health counselors, sponsors, or other informed people you rely on. Gaining insight from people who have experienced similar situations, have expertise on the subject, and want you to succeed will provide you with support, tools, and resources to help reduce your stress and allow you to pursue recovery more easily.
There are several productive habits and stress management practices you can adopt to improve your outlook and overall wellness for general stress. Integrating healthy habits into your daily routine can keep you grounded and safe. To keep yourself healthy and reduce the risk of succumbing to stress and its effects, the following habits can help you stay on track:
- Drink plenty of water every day
- Eat balanced meals and limit junk food
- Practice physical activity regularly
- Get enough rest and try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule
- Follow the instructions and guidance of any doctors, therapists, or other licensed professionals who are working with you
- Spend time outside when appropriate
- Engage in enjoyable hobbies, especially creative ones
- Seek additional professional help if you feel overwhelmed or out of control
In addition to these routine habits, you can also adopt specific practices and techniques for managing your stress. Some of the practices may not appeal to you, but giving them a try and seeing what helps can make a difference. Stress management techniques can include:
- Mindfulness exercises
- Volunteering or helping others in whatever ways you can
- Sharing your thoughts and concerns with people you trust
- To-do list prioritization and reorganization
- Art or music therapy
Managing stress can be difficult if you don’t know the right coping skills for you. Stress causes unmanageability, which can lead to relapse. Experiencing high levels of stress can cause serious mental and physical damage. The impact of stress can be incredibly detrimental to those pursuing sobriety. Studies suggest that reducing stress and adopting effective coping skills can help recovering individuals prevent relapse. At Sober Life, we understand how crucial stress management is to your recovery journey. Our licensed clinicians can show you how stress impacts your path to sobriety, as well as how you can most effectively combat it through practical coping skills. We can help you reduce the stressors in your life that often lead to relapse and facilitate a productive recovery process. If you need new ways to cope with stress during your recovery from a substance use disorder, contact us at Sober Life by calling (619) 542-9542 to learn more.