Those who suffer from severe anxiety will tell you that life can be a constant battle. Chronic anxiety has a way of making even the smallest stresses of everyday life overwhelming.
Finding ways to cope with anxiety is often a challenge, and some people turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to make life feel more manageable. But substance use can quickly turn into substance abuse, and it can worsen the toll anxiety takes on a person’s life.
Through conversations with many people in addiction recovery, however, we learned there is always the possibility for a happy, healthy life — one uncontrolled by anxiety or addiction. And Megan and Kenny, two proud addiction survivors, are but a few shining examples in a sea of many who have worked hard — and continue to persevere — for the sake of sobriety and overall mental health.
Megan Found Peace, Freedom From Medication
Megan has spent most of her life battling anxiety and addiction.
“I have been inpatient for mental health issues, long-term, about four times,” she shared.
Megan was always given just one option for treatment, one she thinks ultimately wasn’t the best choice for her to find peace of mind:
“I was on psych meds for 12 years. At one point, I was on 16 different psych meds.”
After entering rehabilitation for the last time, Megan was alarmed to learn that her new treatment required that she temporarily stop taking her medications. This would give her a baseline and help allow her to work through the deeper issues impacting her mental well-being.
“The protocol for other places was meds, meds, meds, and I came here not knowing that they were going to take me off all my meds. And I was really, really scared when they told me that they were going to, but it’s actually been the best thing that I have ever done.”
Megan said her time in addiction treatment also taught her other ways to cope with anxiety. She has found music to be especially beneficial in soothing her anxiety, and it’s become her new source of comfort rather than the harmful drugs she once turned to.
“I’m a musician and a composer. ... I believe very much that music is extremely healing and powerful.”
Kenny Learned to Change His Mindset
Happiness is truly a skill — and some people need extra time and coaching on how to build on those kinds of techniques. And as Kenny learned, that’s OK!
Also fighting against both anxiety and addiction, Kenny said that his first days of sobriety in a rehabilitation treatment facility amplified his anxiety:
“I often feel that when detoxing off any substance, you’re going through an emotional roller coaster,” he explained.
But Kenny was grateful to learn skills in rehabilitation that not only helped him cope with the triggers that fueled his addiction, but also helped him find a way to deal with life’s challenges in a healthy, meaningful way.
He said, “I’m working on changing how I perceive things, like an overall change of mindset. ... I feel like sobriety without happiness is kind of useless. I am working on finding my own personal happiness and lighting that flame inside of me, and I feel like once I find that happiness and it’s secure, then sobriety will be the least of what I’m worried about.”
Whether you’re struggling with anxiety, addiction, or both, there is always a path to a healthier life. And if you need extra guidance on how to get there, you should never feel ashamed to reach out for help.
As Kenny said, “I feel like if you have a second opportunity, you should take it and uplift it to the fullest because you don’t know when the opportunity might run short.”
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