Sleep, Health, and the Recovery Process
Recovering from addiction isn’t a quick process. It doesn’t happen when you decide to quit using, when you detox, or even when you leave treatment. Oftentimes, recovery lasts a lifetime, but the journey gets easier each day. Recovery is different for everyone, so a one-size-fits-all treatment plan isn’t going to cut it. The key is to find treatment that is tailored to your individual needs.
There are steps you can take to aid in supporting and strengthening the process of recovery, making it all the more likely that you’ll stay sober. Likewise, there are also factors that impede the recovery process and can deter you from the path of sobriety. They are:
- A lack of rest
- Mental illness
- Chronic pain
- A lack of support
- A poor diet
- Minimal physical activity
The Importance of Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can significantly increase your risk of relapsing, especially if you once abused drugs that would help you maintain alertness, such as cocaine or prescription drugs like Adderall. By 2014, there were a reported 45 million people misusing or abusing prescription stimulants like Adderall, per the Clinton Foundation. In fact, these drugs can — and often do — induce insomnia in the substance abuser. The abuse of other substances can also lead to sleep issues as, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes the results of one review in which insomnia was a problem over a six-month period of time for only 10 percent of non-alcoholic people, as compared to 18 percent of alcoholics.
Just because the user completes detox and stops abusing the drug does not mean the side effects instantly vanish. Psychiatric conditions can also inflict sufferers with insomnia. There are medications available to help you sleep, and you may very well need them for a while. Many addicts struggle with insomnia during and for some time after detoxing. Medications like zolpidem and even benzodiazepines can be used during and after treatment to help induce regular sleeping patterns, but they should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.
An informal condition known as circadian dissonance is a common occurrence among addicts. The chemicals they’ve been ingested for extended periods of time slowly take over and cause their sleep patterns to be disrupted on a regular basis, leading to dysfunction in the natural circadian rhythm process.
A lack of sleep can also inhibit the immune system from warding off other illnesses and thus exacerbates underlying health conditions. Generally, rates of sleep disturbance are more easily remedied in the addict who does not have health complications that need to compete with substance abuse for treatment. That being said, those who do should take care in choosing a rehab facility that will accommodate all their treatment needs, including substance abuse, physical, and mental health issues. According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, alcohol dependents with insomnia have a greater risk of relapse five months post-treatment than alcoholics without insomnia.
An Unhealthy Addict
Other health ailments that can impact the recovery process include everything from high blood pressure and obesity to mental health disorders. The worse shape you are in physically, the more likely it is that recovery might be a tougher experience for you, but all physical and mental health issues can be addressed effectively with proper treatment.
Oftentimes, health conditions stem from alcohol and drug abuse. For example, alcohol-induced cirrhosis of the liver is a condition that the American Liver Foundation states around 10-20 percent of heavy alcohol drinkers will develop. The best way to mitigate the damage from substance abuse-related health conditions is to get help in a qualified facility that can manage the issue while treating the addiction.
Those in chronic pain may have ended up addicted to opioid painkillers while treating their discomfort. As a result, these clients need alternative pain management options after detox so they don’t relapse in an attempt to alleviate the pain. Acupuncture has long been used as a way of decreasing pain in specific regions of the body. Mercola reports a 50 percent decrease in self-reported levels of pain following acupuncture treatments.
Other forms of pain relief include:
- Massage therapy
- Music therapy
- Guided imagery
Diet and exercise are crucial to a successful recovery, hence why they are a part of nearly every rehab program. Eating a balanced diet with limited unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, and sugars will fuel your body with the energy it needs to complete detox and continue strongly with recovery.
Get Help Today
Sleep disturbances can not only be treated with medication, but also with non-medicated therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. This is most often the best option for substance abusers, as they are prone to addiction and could develop a dependency on these drugs if used for too long. CBT focuses on relaxation methods, psychotherapy, and other methods as a means of changing thought and behavior patterns.
You can also make some lifestyle changes that can certainly assist you in getting more sleep. They include:
- Limiting caffeine intake
- Restricting fluids three hours before bedtime
- Sticking to a strict bedtime every night of the week
- Waking up at the same time daily
- Eating the right diet
- Avoiding illicit substances and alcohol
- Sleeping in a room with a comfortable temperature in breathable clothing
- Removing electronics from the bedroom
- Quitting smoking
- Meditating before bed
If you’d like more information on how sleep can affect the recovery process, or if you’d like to get started on your own personal recovery today, give us a call. We are here 24/7 to help.
Medical Disclaimer: Orlando Recovery Center aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.