Addiction recovery focuses heavily on physical health, wellbeing, and actions. Wrongfully, recovery success is gauged by considering how a recovering addict seems on the outside, how many sober days they have achieved, and how detached they seem from drugs and/or alcohol.

Whilst physical health and wellbeing are important, mental health is just as important, found to falter throughout addiction and recovery. Mental health problems are easier to hide and deny. Yet they are just as disruptive and dangerous as addiction, requiring treatment and management.

Poor mental health can trigger a substance use disorder, can worsen it, and can relapse drug and alcohol problems, even after treatment. Looking after and protecting your mental health when in recovery should therefore be prioritised, just as much as your physical wellbeing and intentions.

Together, strong physical and mental health can offer the stability to remain sober, healthy, and happy. Here are some tips to protect your mental health when in recovery, recommended to fit into your everyday life.

For pre-existing mental health issues, dual diagnosis treatment can be accessed via rehab. For symptoms of poor mental health, throughout recovery, recognising and managing your problems will be important. Protect your mind with our guidance at Addiction Advocates.


Importance Of Mental Health

The human brain controls emotions, outlooks, moods, and behaviours. It communicates with and regulates the body, influencing decision making, actions and feelings.

Our mental health indicates the wellbeing and stability of our brain. Strong mental health will reflect a balanced cognitive system. At the other end of the spectrum, poor mental health will reflect vulnerability, damage, and disruption.

Brain and emotional health can be dictated by a number of different stimuli, some which can be controlled and some which cannot. Internal and external influences can also decide the fate of our mental wellbeing.

Physical health and wellbeing come across as easier to control, through leading a balanced and healthy lifestyle. When in fact there are some physical and psychological steps that can also control and regulate the mind.

For someone with a drug and alcohol addiction, or who is in recovery, their mental health can worsen their problems and knock them off track. Strong mental health can advance recovery, can maintain motivation and positivity, and can reduce the risks of relapse. Poor mental health can deter acceptance, fuel further substance abuse, and trigger exposure, even on a post-rehab basis.

It is essential that we as humans protect our mental health, as, without psychological armour, risks of depression, chronic stress, anxiety, and further life-limiting conditions are high.


Mental Health And Addiction

Poor mental health is common through addiction. It is one of many causes of initial drug and alcohol abuse. It is also a catalyst for intensified habits. And it is also a hindrance whilst working through addiction recovery.

For someone with a pre-existing mental illness, cognitive vulnerabilities will be present, increasing the susceptibility of addiction. Self-medication is common through poor mental health, advancing the risk of unhealthy coping skills.

For someone with primary drug or alcohol problems, poor mental health is a common symptom of addiction. Internally, drugs and alcohol can damage and disrupt the brain, the frontal lobe, and the central nervous system. Emotional stability can plummet. Externally, a drug and alcohol addiction can deteriorate the quality of life from all angles, reducing happiness and increasing low, depressive, and stressful feelings.

There is such a strong link between mental health and addiction, recognising it as a dual diagnosis. Due to such links, it is very important to treat and manage both conditions, as they are co-existing and influencing disorders.

If you’ve suffered from an addiction and have entered the recovery stage, managing your mental health will affect your long-term recovery results. This is the time to enjoy yourself and to feel good whilst manoeuvring around sobriety. Here are some effective tips to protect your mental health when in recovery, to remain balanced and on track.


How to improve your mental health



Caring for yourself should be both a physical and psychological commitment. For example, a good night’s sleep will support your physical wellbeing. It will also boost your mental and emotional wellbeing. Partaking in self-help techniques that support your body and brain will be encouraged.

Finding something that makes you happy, that you enjoy, that restores balance and that gives yourself some time to relax will be key. Whether that’s meditating, exercising, or taking part in a hobby, you can improve your mental health by focusing on yourself and your needs.


Be present and aware

Mindfulness is one of the most effective techniques for improving and protecting mental health. It grounds people, it increases awareness, and it is heavily linked to gratitude.

Whilst reaching a strong point of recovery, you’ll have so much to be grateful for. Remembering this, whilst being mindful of personal triggers and risks will be beneficial.


Partake in regular exercise

Exercise helps to stimulate the production of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are feel-good chemicals, which elevate the rest of the body. Partaking in 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week is recommended by the Department of Health, for overall health and wellbeing.



Attend support groups

Support groups are offered as a part of the aftercare process, delivered after drug and alcohol rehab. They are filled with like-minded people who are also working through recovery.

Attending support groups is found to increase collaboration, boost accountability, advance motivation and strengthen emotional wellbeing. Support groups will offer emotional support and guidance whilst adjusting to your new norms.


Learn new skills

Learning is a great way to stimulate the mind, boost endorphins and provide an additional focus. Learning a new skill or activity which you enjoy can act as a coping skill and as a positive distraction.

Completing something new can be extremely fulfilling, which is found to tap into the mind and regulate emotional wellbeing. Doing things for yourself on the outside will protect your mental health.


Reach out to loved ones

One of our many tips to protect your mental health when in recovery focuses on personal support. Manoeuvring through recovery can be both a positive and negative process. Reaching out to family members and friends, who you trust, will help you through the process. Spending quality time with them will offer a sense of normality.

Remaining connected can benefit self-value, accountability, and self-confidence.


Access emotional support

If you are struggling through episodes of poor mental health, professional emotional support is available to you. Health professionals and counsellors will be equipped to guide you through any low moments.

Ongoing therapy sessions are offered through aftercare. If you require additional support, this will help to protect your mental health.


Practice meditation

Meditation is a form of mindfulness, which helps to boost self-awareness, control, and relaxation. Tapping into the mind, meditation can help to slow down the body, can help to rationalise emotions and can help to release any form of negative energy.


Avoid drugs and alcohol

Whilst drugs and alcohol are common coping techniques throughout mental health crises, they offer a false sense of security. If you are a recovering addict, reverting to your old ways will increase the risks of relapse. Avoiding drugs and alcohol will be beneficial, offering a clearer mind and helping to promote long-term recovery.


Lead a balanced lifestyle

A balanced lifestyle will help you protect your mental health. Everything from good nutrition, strong personal relationships, optimal sleep and rest, regular exercise, work-life balance, and self-care will contribute to a balanced life. With balance comes the opportunity to remain in control, to see warning signs and to take action.


Accept aftercare and relapse prevention

Aftercare services and relapse prevention planning are delivered on a post-rehab basis. They are in place to offer support, prevent relapse risks and plan for any challenges. They are also helpful whilst improving mental health, by focusing on mindfulness and on self-help.

Recovering from addiction can be tough, especially on the mind. It is normal to experience a mixture of emotions and to encounter low moments. With ongoing support, you can learn how to control your emotions and aim for positive and happy feelings.

Throughout recovery and everyday life, our mental health should be prioritised and ranked just as high as our physical wellbeing. Making use of some of our tips to protect your mental health when in recovery will offer direction throughout this unfamiliar process.

If you require further emotional support or addiction treatment, we at Addiction Advocates can help you. Reach out for our support and recommendations, fully accommodating your needs.




  • [1] Department of Health -
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