Seasonal Affective Disorder: Vitamin D and Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions, but seasonal depression often goes overlooked. Many people think the symptoms of season depression are simply the “winter blues.” But, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is much more than that. This mental condition can cause serious emotional and psychological distress if left untreated. 

SAD is treatable, but recognizing and acknowledging the problem is the first step toward recovery. You should understand what seasonal depression is, what causes it, and what treatments are available.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is characterized as a mood disorder that causes depressive symptoms during the colder and darker months of the year. People with this disorder may show the typical signs of depression in winter. Then, their symptoms fade away in the summertime.

Because the symptoms of SAD come and go throughout the year, individuals struggling with the disorder may not seek treatment. They may think that their low mood or fatigue are normal or unavoidable effects of the cold weather. Friends and family also might not notice that something is wrong because the depressive symptoms ease up as the weather improves.

However, when it goes untreated, seasonal depression can lead to several serious problems. Not only does it cause emotional pain for a significant part of the year, but it can affect your self-care, your job performance, and your relationships with loved ones.

The Link Between Vitamin D and Depression

SAD and Substance Abuse

There are several possible causes of SAD, but one of the most common factors is vitamin D. You can get vitamin D from some foods, but the seasonal main source of the vitamin is sunlight. When UV rays reach your skin, they trigger your body to synthesize vitamin D, which plays an important role in a variety of body and brain functions.

Researchers are still exploring the connection between vitamin D and depression. However, studies do show that vitamin D deficiency is correlated with mood disorders. In the winter, the shorter days and colder weather make it difficult to spend sufficient time outdoors. If you live in an area that experiences harsh winters, you may hardly get any sun exposure at all for several months of the year.

Other Causes and Risk Factors

Vitamin D isn’t the only factor involved in seasonal depression. Another possible cause is a decrease in serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters responsible for elevating your mood. Research shows that many people with SAD have higher levels of a protein that removes serotonin from the brain. Your serotonin levels may drop in the winter due to the lack of sunlight, and they may increase as the days get longer.

Melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle, could play a role as well. Your body produces more melatonin in the dark, so your melatonin levels could increase in the winter. The hormone can also affect your mood, so people with SAD may feel lethargic, hopeless, or unmotivated in the winter because their melatonin levels have increased.

In addition to problems with hormones or brain chemistry, winter is simply a difficult time for many people. If you have a lot of outdoor hobbies, you may feel bored or isolated during the cold and snowy weather. The short daylight hours can make it feel like the days pass too quickly, and the lack of greenery can affect your mood.

There could be a genetic component to SAD as well. If you have a blood relative who struggles with seasonal depression or another mood disorder, you might be more likely to experience the condition.

Signs and Symptoms of SAD

Knowing the signs of seasonal depression will help you notice the disorder in yourself or a loved one. The following are the most common indicators of SAD:

  • A depressed mood that lasts for most of the day
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Stigma: feelings of guilt, shame, or hopelessness
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Thoughts of suicide

The signs of seasonal depression are very similar to the signs of major depression and other depressive disorders, so the condition can be difficult to diagnose. However, identifying that there’s a problem is the first step toward getting help.

SAD and Substance Abuse

seasonal affective disorderDepression and substance use disorders often go hand-in-hand. Mood disorders can be incredibly difficult to cope with, so many people turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication. Some people with SAD use stimulants to try to boost their mood or increase their energy levels. Others use alcohol or opiates to try to block the pain of the depressive symptoms.

At first, these substances may provide short-term relief from feelings of sadness, guilt, or hopelessness. Over time, though, self-medicating can lead to addiction. Drugs and alcohol can worsen the symptoms of depression in the long run, too. This leads to a vicious cycle of self-medicating that only makes the depression and the addiction worse.

Co-occurring disorders are very common among people who struggle with substance abuse. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 20 percent of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder struggle with substance use. Additionally, about 20 percent of people with a substance use disorder are also diagnosed with an anxiety or mood disorder.

SAD can put you at risk of relapsing if you’re currently in recovery from a substance use disorder, too. If you aren’t receiving treatment for seasonal depression or don’t realize that you’re struggling with a mental health disorder, you may feel particularly vulnerable as the cold weather sets in. Without the proper coping skills for depression, you might be tempted to relapse with your substance use in search of relief from the mental health symptoms.

Treatment for Seasonal Depression

Overcoming SAD isn’t easy. However, you can manage it with a combination of professional treatment and natural remedies for seasonal depression. Although you may not be able to change the circumstances that have caused your seasonal depression, you can learn to cope with the symptoms and take control over the negative thoughts.

Counseling is one of the most popular and effective forms of treatment for SAD. Different therapists take different approaches to mental health counseling. Most focus on addressing the negative thoughts that may be impacting your mood, motivation, and overall well-being. You and your therapist can also explore the possible causes of your depression in winter and discuss coping skills that may help you get through difficult days.

Phototherapy is another treatment option for seasonal depression. This involves sitting in front of a specialized bright light for about 30 minutes per day. The light is designed to suppress your brain’s melatonin production and provide similar benefits to natural sunlight.

Certain lifestyle changes may be helpful natural remedies for seasonal depression, too. Keep in mind, though, that low energy is one of the most common symptoms of SAD. Try not to feel upset with yourself if you can’t find the motivation to dramatically change your lifestyle to combat your depression. However, activities like meditation, exercise, and art can all be great ways to lift your mood and increase your energy levels.

Medication can be an effective way to manage seasonal depression as well. Everyone responds differently to antidepressants, so you’ll have to work closely with a therapist and psychiatrist if you decide that medication is the right option for you. Your doctor’s recommendation may also vary if you’re currently in recovery from a substance use disorder. This is why it’s so important that you treat both disorders simultaneously.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The Link Between Vitamin D and Depression

If you have a substance use disorder and SAD, dual diagnosis treatment is the key to recovery. Both disorders may have the same underlying cause, or one may have caused the other. Dual diagnosis treatment helps you overcome both disorders and strengthen your overall mental health, reducing the risk of relapse.

When you attend a dual diagnosis treatment program, your team will take a comprehensive approach to your care. Instead of focusing solely on the substance use disorder, they’ll simultaneously address the other mental health problems that may play a role in your addiction.

An effective program will begin with a mental health evaluation. This allows your team to create an individualized treatment plan based on your unique needs. Your plan might include medical services during drug or alcohol detox, individual therapy, group therapy, and medication. You may also receive ongoing outpatient services after you leave the full-time program.

Seasonal affective disorder can take a serious toll on your quality of life. It’s especially difficult if you struggle with addiction or are working on recovering from a substance use disorder. You don’t have to manage seasonal depression on your own, though. With support from mental health professionals, you can overcome your dual diagnosis and improve your quality of life.

Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare offers individualized addiction treatment programs that address co-occurring disorders and promote long-term wellness. We believe in empowering our patients by helping them develop the skills they need to succeed. To learn more about our programs, contact us today.



Alcohol has an effect on your muscles

Alcohol’s Effect On Muscles

For decades, we’ve been trying to find ways to consume alcohol without gaining the adverse alcohol effects has on your muscles. But does working out and gaining muscle mean that alcohol consumption must be eliminated? 

Many adults enjoy catching a happy hour or going out to get a drink, particularly on weekends, but alcohol and muscle recovery usually don’t mix. The workweek’s middle or end is traditionally commemorated with a happy hour that generally lasts more than only one hour. But the truth is, working adults and athletes both struggle to eliminate even casual drinking on weekends only. 

Some look for ways to balance consuming alcohol and athletics; others give into the fun that comes with partying, causing them to seek an alcohol recovery program.

How Does Alcohol Have An Effect On Your Muscles? 

Research has shown that alcohol has a major effect on your muscles. This is due to the impairment of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) by absorbing the body’s optimal nutrition. The experiment included athletes binge drinking large amounts of alcohol. Because athletes are most prone to requiring muscle but are often drinking, the studies had shown an even greater decline in MPS with a more significant amount of alcohol consumption. alcohol effects on muscles

The research provided enough data to propose educational awareness to coaches and athletes about alcohol and muscle recovery. 

Alcohol and Effects on Fat Burning

Alcohol consumption has been proven to decrease metabolism and reduce our fat-burning capability. This is partly because of how the human body reacts differently to alcohol than consuming real food. The body treats alcohol like a toxin, not a nutrient, so it’s impossible to store alcohol calories the way the body holds food calories.

Alternatively, our metabolism changes to removing toxic waste from burning stored food calories. The primary poisonous chemicals created from alcohol consumption are called acetate and acetaldehyde. 

You’ll almost immediately notice the urge to use the bathroom after consuming just two drinks. Your body is tentatively converting the unwanted byproducts as fuel to release the toxins. This slows down the natural metabolic process of fat stored being burned or adipose tissue. Research has determined that alcohol substitutes fat for fuel and supplies many daily requirement calories.

So, you’re out enjoying a few drinks, the metabolism has paused its fat-burning capabilities, and it starts to break down the booze first. This causes the food consumption calories to be stored as fat. From there, the alcohol decreases our ability to burn fat, especially around the belly area, creating the ever so popular “beer belly.” 

Long-term experiments have also reported that older women who consume alcohol moderately gained less weight than women who had eliminated alcohol. It was stated these women had consumed alcohol occasionally; and on those days, they were physically active and took in fewer calories. 

So, does this mean you can’t work out and enjoy a relaxing glass of wine before dinner? Luckily, research has shown that moderate drinking can be advantageous to our health.

Alcohol and Its Effects on Fitness

Analysis of alcohol and muscle recovery revealed that alcohol consumption can cause significant setbacks in gaining muscle and accomplishing fitness goals. Studies have shown that alcohol consumption reduces muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which reduces the possibility of gaining muscle. Alcohol and its Effects on Fitness

It has also been revealed that alcohol negatively modifies hormone levels and decreases the body’s metabolism, meaning the capability to decrease body fat becomes delayed. There’s also the problem for some who just can’t drink alcohol in moderation. 

How Much Should I Drink?

Health experts advise that women only have only one alcoholic drink per day and for men, no more than two. Simply enjoying a drink has become a reward and cheat option for completing a goal or solid workout and may turn into consuming more than two.

But not all is bad with alcohol consumption; analysis has also revealed some positive health advantages associated with consuming alcohol moderately, like increasing the good cholesterol levels (HDL), reducing stress, and insulin resistance. But overall it has been proven, the negatives of alcohol consumption exceed the positives.

It boils down to making the best-informed choice about alcohol consumption and your fitness goals regarding alcohol’s effects on muscles. 

Alcohol’s Effect on Healthy Eating 

Alcohol consumption can cause lowered inhibitions, leading to mindless eating, overeating, and consuming too many calories. Research has shown that when under the influence of alcohol, drinkers cannot stay focused on healthy eating. 

Alcohol consumption and eating bad go hand in hand, and the result is usually a lack of energy and an enlarged waistline. Studies on calorie intake and alcohol consumption showed people who enjoyed a glass of wine at lunch were consuming an additional 200 calories daily. Those extra calories over time had caused immense weight gain for most participating members. 

How many calories are in each type of drink?

  • 1.5oz liquor – 100 calories
  • 5oz wine- 100 calories
  • 12oz beer – 150 calories

Alcohol’s Effect on Hormones

There seems to be inconclusive data on alcohol’s effects on testosterone levels. Research has indicated someone would have to consume quite a lot of alcohol consistently to alter testosterone.

According to some studies, roughly nine drinks consumed for a man weighing 180lb can lower post-exercise testosterone hormone levels. Reduced testosterone in men can decrease libido, diminish muscle growth, and enhance the risk of osteoporosis.

Another study has shown that elevated alcohol consumption converts testosterone into estrogen, causing massive problems. Plants utilized to produce alcohol contain phytoestrogens, which affects the sex hormone in males. It also seems heavy drinking enhances the aromatase enzyme activity. This enzyme helps convert testosterone, the male sex hormone, into estrogen, the female sex hormone. Too much estrogen in men can cause loss of erection, sore nipples, testicular atrophy, and feminization symptoms. 

So, does this suggest that men shouldn’t consume alcohol if they want to preserve their manhood? Research states that heavy or excessive binge drinking can cause health problems, whereas drinking in moderation doesn’t negatively affect lean mass gains or male reproduction. 

Alcohol’s Effect On Muscles

An examination was conducted on the effects of alcohol consumption with MPS. Participants in the analysis were eight physically active males performing interval training and weight lifting as a portion of the testing method. They drank alcohol and whey protein instantly after their exercise and once again four hours afterward. 

The men also consumed a meal full of carbs two hours after training, with the muscle biopsies taken at rest, two & eight hours after the workout.

The results determined that alcohol levels had elevated above baseline post-exercise with both carbs and protein consumption. Muscle biopsies showed decreased measures of MPS following physical exercise. Alcohol consumed with a protein had reduced MPS by 24% and then 37% when coupled with carbs. The result revealed a partial release of MPS when alcohol was consumed with protein but still negatively diminished.

Alcohol’s Effect on Nutrition

alcohol and muscle recovery,Consuming alcohol indicates you’re drinking empty calories that have zero of the body’s nutritional value. Healthy carbohydrates will have seven calories per gram as opposed to four calories per gram. Many alcoholic beverages are blended with mixers full of dyes and sugar, producing more unhealthy calories for the body. 

Consuming alcohol has been proven to reduce nutrient absorption by reducing digestive enzymes. It can also cause damage to cells in the digestive tract that affect nutrient absorption. Without a healthy digestive system, even healthy food can become unbeneficial to the body. 

Researches have shown that excessive and binge drinking can block the body from absorbing a sufficient amount of protein and additional nutrients. Humans require adequate nutrients to perform optimal fitness exercises while building and maintaining muscle mass. 

Alcohol’s Effect On Sleep

Alcohol may give the feeling of being relaxed, but it has been proven to negatively affect and disrupt our sleep. Sleep is vital for tissue repair and recovering muscles. Without a sufficient amount of sleep, we become unable to function at maximum levels. Alcohol is a depressant substance and may help you fall asleep, but remaining asleep usually becomes an issue.

Research has revealed that alcohol consumption can disrupt our restorative or rapid eye movement (REM) rest. When going without REM rest, you could experience daytime drowsiness, exhaustion, and weak concentration.

Evidence has shown that alcohol negatively affects sleep patterns, which results in increased physical stress and fatigue. Without healthy REM sleep, strength and athletic abilities become tremendously affected. 

Implications state that modest alcohol consumption, meaning one-two drinks, will not disrupt or diminish our sleep patterns. Disrupted sleep can happen with excessive or binge drinking. It’s also highly recommended not to consume alcohol as a sleep aid to circumvent the danger of alcoholism.

Is Alcohol Worth Sacrificing Your Fitness Goals?

Implementing the standard suggested guidelines of consuming no more than one alcoholic beverage for women and two for men should not affect fitness levels and muscle growth. Boozing too much, though, is extremely unhealthy and dangerous. 

Becoming in shape and growing muscle does not imply eliminating alcohol; it only means you should continuously make healthy choices. As alcohol affects your muscles, this makes burning fat and building lean mass more challenging, and superior nutrient intake is crucial. And now that we know alcohol has zero nutrient value, consuming a drink or two occasionally and moderately seems to be possible.

You might not overwhelm yourself with optimal fitness gains, but restricting your alcohol consumption intake is crucial to avoiding alcoholism and living a healthy, happy life. 

Get Help Today

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism, we can help. Here at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, we understand that treating someone with an alcohol addiction takes time and hands-on care. We now understand alcohol’s effects on muscles and other vital organs, but the real damage is when a disorder takes over a life. 

Do not hesitate any longer; contact us today and allow our team of specialists to help get you back on track to a healthy, happy lifestyle!

trauma informed care

What is Trauma-Informed Care?

There are many reasons why a person may fall into addiction and all its effects. While some people may ignore the reasons – this is an important part of the treatment process. One of the main reasons why many people become addicted to alcohol or drugs is because of past trauma. Over the years, it has been shown that many of those who struggle with addiction do so because of trauma. This is why trauma-informed care is essential during the recovery process. 

Trauma is considered an extremely stressful/scarring event or experience that affects a person deeply. If left untreated, these traumas can fester and become a reason to start using drugs or alcohol. Trauma and addiction treatment is a completely different situation than tackling trauma. It’s important to truly understand how these traumas play a role in a person’s substance abuse and addiction in general. 

It’s important to practice trauma-informed care so the root of the issue is resolved. Avoiding or ignoring the reason why a person is abusing drugs in the first place is problematic in the long run. Rehab centers like Granite Mountain can help you come to terms with your past trauma while overcoming your addiction one step at a time. Addiction treatment is a patient and long process but in the end, it’s worth it for a healthier and better life. 

What is Trauma?

Trauma is an event or experience that overwhelms and impacts a person’s sense of security/coping ability. Traumas vary from person to person and vary in severity. What one person might forget another person may be scarred by. Trauma can be a distressing event or something more mundane like their parents divorcing. These traumas can lead to years of repressed feelings and stress in a person’s life. 

Common traumas a person may experience may include:

  • Death of a loved one, close friend, or friend
  • Witnessing violence or abuse (themselves or loved one)
  • Living in a household with an addicted or abusive parent
  • Illness and disease (life-threatening) 
  • War experiences
  • Sexual assault or abuse 
  • Witnessing or being involved in a severe accident
  • Witnessing a death
  • Natural disasters

In reality, a traumatic experience can be anything at all. The main impact is how a person reacts to this trauma in their life. Many people tend to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with these memories and past traumas. This can end up leading to dependence and addiction in the long run. When people get the treatment it’s important to approach it with the lens of trauma-informed care. This means looking at trauma as part of addiction treatment. 

Signs and Symptoms of Trauma

Trauma can end up leading to more intense conditions such as Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which can be accompanied by depression and anxiety. A person’s trauma can lead to several different symptoms and problems in a person’s life. Some of the most common symptoms of trauma and PTSD include:

  • Nightmares
  • Anger/irritable
  • Avoiding certain events associated with a traumatic event
  • Flashbacks or reliving the traumatic event
  • Hopelessness and despair
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss

If you or a loved one is frequently experiencing these symptoms they may be dealing with PTSD. 

Trauma and Addiction 

The symptoms and emotions of these past traumas can be tough for a person to handle and cope with. They may seem overwhelming and distressing (sometimes frequently). As a result, people turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the effects and to self-medicate. Self-medicating like this can be seen in those who struggle with mental disorders as well. This is usually a temporary solution and ends up causing more problems in the long run.

This is why trauma and addiction treatment should be treated together. Understanding that a person has had a traumatic experience in the past and is drinking because of it can make treatment more effective. Practicing trauma-informed care helps pinpoint the exact reasons why a person began drinking, to begin with. By coming to terms and coping with these feelings, a person can focus on getting help both mentally and physically. 

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

In 1998 a study was conducted by the CDC (Centers for Diseases Control) to see the effects of adverse childhood experiences on a person’s health in the long-term. This study (as well as many future studies) showed that children with traumatic childhoods have an increased risk of developing drug and alcohol disorders as adults  The study was called the ACE study and several of the experiences identified as traumatic included:

  • Divorced parents
  • Neglect (physical or emotional)
  • Racism and bullying
  • Living in foster homes
  • Experiencing violence
  • Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Living with a parent struggling with a mental illness or substance problem
  • Growing up in an unsafe neighborhood

The study determined that if a child experienced at least four of these they had an increased rate of developing depression, alcohol/drug abuse, and anxiety (among other conditions). Unfortunately, the trauma continues to affect thousands of children every year. Cases of trauma can negatively change how a person’s mind grows and develops. 

Trauma-Informed Care and Addiction Treatment

Luckily, many addiction treatment centers like Granite Mountain can integrate treatment for both addiction and trauma/PTSD. This is considered a case of co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders (also known as dual diagnosis) occur when a person is dealing with both an addiction and a mental disorder (in this case PTSD). These cases can be very problematic if left untreated. As mentioned, trauma can be the reason why someone abuses drugs – in turn, their symptoms worsen which circles back to more drug use. It’s because of this that trauma and addiction treatment should be guided together. 

Trauma-informed care is a vital part of the process and allows for the best chances of recovery as well as a better life. The trauma-informed approach takes into account the past traumas and negative experiences in a recovering addict’s life. By creating a comprehensive treatment plan and following the principles of trauma-informed care.

How Does Trauma-informed Care Work?

Trauma-informed care uses several principles to help a person cope and understand their past traumas while tackling addiction. This is a process that requires both the therapist and the patient. Let’s take a look at the different principles of trauma-informed care during treatment:

  • Safety – The therapist needs to create a safe and open environment for the person, this is crucial to the success
  • Transparency/Trustworthiness – Before a person can open up about their past traumas there must be a certain level of trust in the therapist and the rehab center as well. A center like Granite can provide an extensive level of care and transparency. 
  • Collaboration and Mutual help – No matter who is getting treatment, a collaboration between other peers, therapists, and the staff is crucial. This goes hand-in-hand with the idea of trust. 
  • Peer Support – Sharing your story with others who have experienced trauma (as well as hearing their stories) is a very effective way to work through your feelings. Peer support is a vital part of almost all trauma and addiction treatment cases. 
  • Cultural, Gender, and Other Issues – Understanding topics of race, gender, age, religion, identity, ethnicity, and geography should be set as the ground rules. With this in mind, it’s important to honor and value these topics respectfully and openly – as these could be related to the trauma as well.
  • Empowering voice and choice – Part of the journey should be to reward and recognize the strength of those willing to battle their trauma (as well as recovering from addiction). Promoting the healing promise and empowering those who are struggling is a vital part of the process. 

There should be a strong relationship between the therapist and the person getting help. This should be a relationship of trust, professionalism, and support from beginning to end. No matter how bad things may appear, with the right help, you can overcome addiction and trauma. Trauma-informed care should be practiced with care and respect to achieve all goals set by the therapist and person struggling with the trauma. 

Receiving Trauma and Addiction Treatment

Approaching addiction takes a qualified and supportive team of specialists, that’s where our team at Granite Mountain comes in. The process of dealing with trauma and addiction involves multiple elements such as therapy, detox, and medication in some cases. Getting addiction treatment usually starts with detox and moves onto more quality treatment such as inpatient or outpatient treatment (depending on the case at hand). 

Start the Journey at Granite Behavioral Healthcare

Dealing with trauma and substance abuse can be a tricky and stressful situation. However, trauma and addiction treatment is an option. At Granite, our incredible staff is ready to help you overcome those hurdles with a trauma-informed care approach and a supportive environment the whole way. Don’t let addiction and past trauma ruin your life any longer, take the first step towards sobriety and a better life. Contact us today to learn about our addiction treatment options and mental health services. 



Rebuilding Your Life After Addiction

Rebuilding Your Life After Addiction: 10 Tips for a New Start

Suddenly entering a drug and alcohol recovery program and becoming sober is difficult enough, but rebuilding your life after addiction can only complicate things more. Initially, you’ll have to conquer withdrawal symptoms and cravings to use again. Returning to the real world and continuing a sober lifestyle after spending years of substance abuse addict can be like coming out of a cave. 

The transitional process will require several changes, steps, and resolutions that must be strictly followed to be successful. This is crucial if you’re working on your recovery or recently become sober and want to continue that path after rehab

After spending an amount of time in treatment, the transition process of rebuilding your life after addiction can be challenging and will require several steps. Here are ten tips to rebuilding your life after addiction.

Step 1: Slow and Steady Wins The Race

Often, those who are recently rebuilding their life after addiction believe they’re suddenly ready to jump back right into the world. But they’ll usually realize quickly they’re very far from being 100% ready. You’ll feel reinvigorated and recharged and living life to its fullest, but you should moderate. Lifes pace will likely feel quite differently now, and it might take time to reacclimate. But remember, regarding substance addiction recovery, slow and steady wins the race!

Step 2: Make Things Right 

Chance are, in the substance-abusing days, you did bad things or failed during that previous lifestyle. Even though these things happened during the addiction era, these actions had still caused people to become upset or have animosity. However, most loved ones will be happy to have you back healthy and sober and begin to realize the influence of old wounds can heal as time goes on. It is crucial to quickly and efficiently find ways to repair any damage you previously caused and make sure you make things right.

Step 3: Do What’s Expected of You

Another step to take when mending relationships with friends and family and to find out what they expect and need from you and their expectations of your behavior when dealing with them. For example, if you began using drugs and alcohol as a teen, and now you’re in your late 20’s, the early ’30s, life has changed. You may only remember things back when you were sober and a functioning family member, but those roles and expectations in those relationships have also changed. 

This discussion isn’t only for your sake, but for the sake of your loved ones too. They’ve gotten used to viewing you as a substance abuser and will continue to think of you that way unless you can show them differently. They may even expect too much now that you are back to being sober. Follow the rules and do what’s expected of you to help make loved ones view the present and form more practical standards moving forward.

10 Tips for a New Start

Step 4- Follow Through

Life after rehab will be tough enough adjusting to life and finding time to discuss in detail what is expected of you. But now that friends and family have given you the ground rules, moving forward, now you’ll have to follow through on it. You beat substance abuse and addiction, and now the time has come to change other habits correlating to how you relate to others, things you do for them, handling obligations, and more. 

People you speak with may be duly impressed by the interest you display in what they believed and required to consider their expectations. But what will impress them and help form a solid relationship is by following through on your commitments, now and long term.

Step 5: Leave Old Friends Behind

After leaving rehab, it is crucial to cut ties with all previous substance abusing and addicted friends from the past. Regardless of the support, they claim they’ll give you during your path to sobriety, the fact is their presence will only stall your progress. Even in situations where it’s a good friend or even a family member, they will bring you down and possibly trigger you to use again. 

During individual psychotherapy sessions, you’ll learn that even friends and family members who are happy that you’ve become sober still may not fully support your new lifestyle. But dont take that personally. They’re just afraid you’ll push your get clean ways and lifestyle onto them. They realize your lives are going in entirely different directions with them on the opposing end of the spectrum. 

Even if that’s not the case and you still fully support each other, hanging with others getting drunk or high will only tempt you. Being around them can at any moment trigger a relapse, so stay away or keep it at busy, formal meeting places. No amount of sentiment is worth your health, happiness, and especially your sobriety! Leave old friends behind.

Step 6: Finding New Hobbies

Back in the substance-abusing days, everyday life probably revolved around seeking and consuming drugs or alcohol. And the moments you weren’t occupied with using substance were perhaps overshadowed by thoughts of when and how you were going to schedule using again. So, now that you’re clean, what will you do with your free time now? 

Substance addiction has left a giant hole in your life, and now is the time for you to fill that hole with something productive, engaging, and fun. Finding new hobbies is easy; try by volunteering, pursuing further education, or other positive and fulfilling hobbies to keep new life on the right path.

Step 7: Start Exercising

Think back to the days of drinking and abusing substances. How often did you work out during that period? Although now you’re clean and sober, are you in good health? Those who start exercising can feel a world of difference regarding improving overall brain health, boosting energy levels, feeling of self-confidence, and sense of well-being. 

Whether it’s hiking, swimming, yoga, cycling, pilates, joining a gym, or a team sport, exercise can take things to a whole other level. Another reason to start exercising is to meet others dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle, which will help support your newly found healthy habits.

Step 8: Start Dieting

Like most people who’ve spent years abusing substances, you likely didn’t have the best diet throughout that period. Your body’s condition is influenced by what you eat, and it may now be showing signs of malnutrition caused by long term neglect. It is crucial to minimize fats, cut junk food out from your diet, cut out sugar and unhealthy food and eat fresh fruit, veggies, fish, and lean meats daily. Also, drink lots of water and cut back on coffee or energy drinks. 

A comprehensive health change won’t happen overnight, but over time, your tastes will change, and you’ll start craving healthy food. Next, you’ll begin to see extraordinary changes in appearance, immunity, energy level, and overall health. But it only happens when you start dieting.

rebuilding your life after addiction

Step 9: Get Plenty of Rest

Whatever your sleep schedule was in the substance-abusing era, it probably wasn’t very conducive to providing good mental and physical health. Staying up all night and sleeping all day, along with broken sleep throughout the night, did not help your health or mood. Going multiple days without sleep and then crashing are only a few basic models of sleep schedules that qualify as rest for a substance abuser. 

Chances are, you’d be surprised to see the difference sleeping for eight hours every night can make. It can help convert into a far better mood, higher energy levels, sharper mental alertness, better health, and more. But it all starts with getting plenty of rest.

Step 10: Set and Accomplish Goals

The most crucial step to take following substance addiction rehab is to figure out your life goals and set about following them. This will help put other positive things in motion. Now that you’re headed along a solid path towards your dreams like exercising, getting plenty of rest, and being good to loved ones will eventually fall into line. This an especially significant step to practice since you’ve probably not set any meaningful goals due to your substance abuse. Now, your new future is a blank slate, and you can decide who and what you want to be, accomplish in life, but you must make that decision and carry it out.

Get Help Today

If you or a loved one is rebuilding life after addiction and could use guidance to stay on track, we can help. Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare can help get you back on track and guide you in continuing your path to sobriety. Let’s face it; sobriety is a sprint, not a marathon. And with unexpected things in life like a global pandemic can disturb even the strongest of sober minds. This is why it is crucial to have a solid team to help you through the rehab journey. 

Do not hesitate any longer. Contact us today at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare and allow our team to answer the questions you seek. Remember, this path does not have to be taken alone. We can help!

world mental health day

Focusing on Mental Health: Discussing the Importance of World Mental Health Day

We are in the middle of a pandemic, but it is certainly not the only health problem facing the world. We are also in the middle of a mental and behavioral health crisis. For numerous reasons, more and more people are learning about their mental health issues and getting the care they need. However, it’s scary to think about all of the people who still remain undiagnosed. 

Many people lack education. Others have the education, but they don’t get the help they need due to the stigma of having a mental illness. People with a mental illness have been seen as “weak” or “crazy” instead of being seen as people with a medical diagnosis that requires attention. That’s why mental health professionals lobbied for International Mental Health Day go showcase the importance of mental health awareness.

International Mental Health Day is a day designed to increase awareness and encourage people who suffer from mental illness to seek help to enrich their lives as well as the people around them. We celebrate International Mental Health Day this year on October 10, 2020.

The Mental Health Problem

18% of people in the United States have a mental health condition. Of course, it’s important to understand that these are only the people who come forward to get help. There are a number of people who go through life with mental and behavioral health problems every day but never get help, increasing the importance of mental health awareness. 

Some of the most prevalent mental health conditions include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • addiction
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • bipolar
  • schizophrenia
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)


Depression is a disorder characterized by sadness and a lack of enthusiasm for things that someone once loved. It can get so bad that someone may even consider taking their own life.


Anxiety is a disorder characterized by high tension and paranoia. The individual may experience general nervousness their entire life, or it may come up in particular situations.


Addiction is a disorder characterized by the abuse and overindulgence of mind-altering substances, such as alcohol or heroin. The drug takes control over the person until they finally regain control back of their life.


OCD is a disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts and reactionary compulsive behaviors. One example involves compulsive cleaning to control obsessive thoughts about germs and dirtiness.

Bipolar Disorder 

Bipolar is a disorder characterized by intense mood swings. One moment, the person can be on cloud nine, happy, and excited. The next moment, they could be in a depressive state seemingly out of nowhere. They will also typically behave rather impulsively, making rash life decisions or shocking purchases.


Schizophrenia is a disorder characterized by delusions and altered perceptions of reality. People with schizophrenia may hear or see things that aren’t actually there, and these hallucinations can severely alter a person’s behavior.


PTSD is a disorder characterized by flashbacks to trauma. It is often associated with soldiers returned from war or people who have suffered from abuse or a serious accident. The person can be triggered by certain sounds or situations. alternatively, the person can experience flashbacks completely out of nowhere.

Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Throughout history, people who suffered from mental illness were treated as though they were crazy and possibly even dangerous. This was largely due to a lack of understanding of mental and behavioral health despite the efforts of many to learn more about the topic. People with mental illness may have been seen as possessed. In many cases, treatments were intense. 

If the treatment didn’t work, the person was generally discarded and forced to live in a confined environment with less than adequate accommodations. Even as we learned more, mental health facilities did not have proper facilities. Plus, treatment could even involve the removal of the brain or electric shock therapy. These treatments could permanently alter a person’s brain and personality to the point of serious cognitive deficiency.

Mental Health in the Media 

It doesn’t help how mental illness is often portrayed in the media. In many movies and television shows, mental illness is not represented properly. One common misrepresentation is confusing schizophrenia with a dissociative identity disorder. This misrepresentation only increases confusion about the topic. 

Due to fear, people then make assumptions about mental illness that it seems scary and dangerous. This makes others want to isolate people in their life with mental illness instead of offering understanding and compassion.

The importance of mental health awareness becomes a social concept. We need to offer support and understanding in order to help. That’s how we can remove the stigma and help people become valuable members of society instead of people with a disease.

Treatment for Mental Illness

It’s important for us as a society to recognize the importance of mental health awareness. When people are aware they have a problem, they are more likely to get treatment. 

Of course, it is up to the person suffering to get the treatment available to them. Someone with a mental health problem must take it upon themselves to get help, just like anyone with a health condition such as diabetes needs to get help. It’s that person’s responsibility to get help in order to be able to take care of themselves and the other people in their life. Luckily, there are a number of options when it comes to mental health treatment.

Lifestyle Changes

You may be surprised at how much simple changes in your daily habits can really affect your mental and behavioral health. Start small by taking care of your physical health. Eat foods filled with nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. 

Avoid foods high in fat but low in nutrients, such as potato chips. You should also make a point to exercise a couple of times a week to keep your body active. There are a number of other changes that could help, to, including:

  • drinking more water
  • sleeping 7- 9 every night
  • keeping your home clean
  • developing healthy relationships


Therapy gives you the opportunity to talk about your issues with a trained professional in a safe environment. You will be able to talk about whatever you want to talk about. If you have nothing to say, your therapist can help guide the conversation in the right direction. The therapist will be able to help you identify your problems and get you back on the right track.

You can go to one-on-one therapy or group therapy with people who suffer from similar conditions. One-on-one therapy is a good idea for someone with very personal issues that they wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about in front of a group. Group therapy is a good idea for people who want to develop a support system or need help interacting with other people and making friends.


Many mental disorders are the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Generally speaking, this imbalance involves neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. This chemical imbalance can sometimes be realigned with the help of medication. The medications will increase or decrease the number of neurotransmitters in the brain. There are different medications for different disorders. Some common medications for mental disorders include:

  • anti-depressants
  • anti-psychotics
  • mood stabilizers
  • stimulants
  • anti-anxiety

Medications can be effective and may be absolutely necessary in some situations. That being said, medications can also have some very serious side effects. In some cases, they may even become addictive. For these reasons, many people are looking for alternative treatments.

Holistic Treatments

There are options for people who don’t want to take medication. There are a number of holistic treatments designed to make someone feel better. Many people will use crystals or other ways to manifest positive energy. While lacking in substantiated evidence, the crystals can have a positive effect on people. 

Other people may choose to try acupuncture or other eastern medicine practices. These practices have been in place for thousands of years, but they have recently been applied to mental health.

Mental Health Rehabilitation

In some serious cases, the best answer could be intensive rehabilitation. In rehab, the patient will learn how to manage their illness. They will also be properly medicated if necessary. 

There are two min types of rehab: inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient treatment involves going to an on-site location and essentially living at the facility for an extended period of time. This is the most intensive treatment. The patient has round-the-clock care, and they are being monitored constantly, keeping them (and others) safe. 

Outpatient treatment involves going to treatment for 4-8 hours a day but still getting the opportunity to go home. This can be better for people who have certain responsibilities they just can’t forego in order to go to inpatient treatment.

International Mental Health Day is an important day in the world of mental and behavioral health. It’s crucial for us as a society to acknowledge the importance of mental health awareness so that people feel comfortable coming forward with their problems and getting the help they desperately need. 

If we don’t allow people to get help freely, more sons, daughters, friends, and spouses will take their own life or go through life miserable. Let’s get these people the help they need instead of shaming them. Show your support for International Mental Health Day this October 10th.

Contact Us Today 

At Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, our team of treatment specialists can help help you find the program that works for you. Treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach. We utilize a blend of traditional treatment methods as well as more holistic approaches. But most importantly, treatment is centered around you and regaining your health and freedom from addiction. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health disorder or addiction, it’s time to get help. Contact us today for more information.

acupuncture for addiction treatment

Holistic Therapies: Using Acupuncture for Addiction Treatment

Holistic therapy is a treatment that uses all-natural means to promote healing or sobriety. One commonly used holistic treatment is acupuncture. Acupuncture may seem like an out of the ordinary way to treat addiction, but in reality, it is one of the oldest natural treatments known to man. Before choosing to utilize acupuncture in recovery, it is important to understand it’s history, what it is, and how it can benefit you. 

What are Holistic Therapies?

A growing trend in medicinal circles over the last several decades has been the incorporation of “alternative” or holistic approaches. These holistic approaches, such as acupuncture, can be used for any number of ailments-from body soreness to addiction and everything in between. Due to the popularity of drug-free offerings, more and more treatment centers in the US are offering these types of therapies

Holistic ideas refer to treatments or approaches that speak to the “whole person”. Ther focus is on both the mind and body and seeking healing for both/and. With trends pointing towards more “natural” options, these holistic approaches are becoming more popular and being offered regularly. Some of these holistic options include yoga, meditation, massage therapy, and acupuncture. Patients who adhere to these options can see direct benefits in the area they are hoping to improve, as well as great fringe benefits such as better fitness, better sleep, and lower cholesterol. 

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient art and healing method that uses needles and manipulation of various pressure points on the body to treat various health concerns. Generally, acupuncture involves the insertion of long, thin needles under the skin at specific points to promote healing. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese art and healing method that uses the manipulation of various points on the body to treat a variety of health concerns. The needles are sized perfectly and sterilized to make sure no infection occurs. In addition to traditional needle-based therapy, other treatments, such as massage or herbals, are also used.   

The theory behind acupuncture, historically, was that it keeps the “qi energy” of the body in balance. Today, acupuncture experts understand that acupuncture produces positive results by stimulating many different systems of the body, such as cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune. All acupuncture therapists must be fully licensed and trained in the nuances of their methods.  

While acupuncture may seem like a far-fetched way to approach recovery, many people these days are trying acupuncture as an all-natural way to step into healing. Because there are very few risks associated with acupuncture, patients from all walks of life can try it for ailments ranging from eating disorders to depression to various addictions

Uses for Acupuncture

Because it is relatively low-risk, acupuncture can be tried for basically any ailment. Patients report very little discomfort and positive results have been achieved from any different areas of health care. In general, acupuncture is most widely used for the following reasons:

  • Reducing the effects surrounding chemotherapy and other cancer treatments
  • Recovery from dental pain or procedures
  • General muscle soreness or body aches
  • Migraines or other headaches
  • Labor or menstrual pains
  • Various mental health disorders or addictions

The Risks of Acupuncture

The inherent risks of acupuncture treatment are extremely low if you have certified, competent therapists using safe needles.ome common post-treatment side effects of acupuncture include soreness, minor bruising, or brief bleeding. Still, not everyone is a good candidate for acupuncture and you may be at greater risk if you have any of the following issues:

  • Bleeding disorders or clotting issues- You may be at greater risk for increased bleeding if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinners.
  • Have a pacemaker- Because some acupuncture uses minor electrical pulses, you should not seek acupuncture treatment if you utilize a pacemaker
  • Are pregnant- Some forms of acupuncture can potentially induce labor and lead to premature delivery. 

What to Expect Before an Acupuncture Treatment

Every acupuncture therapist has a different and unique approach, with many blending Eastern and Western treatment philosophies. In order to determine the type of acupuncture treatment that will benefit you the most, your expert may ask detailed questions about your lifestyle, medical history, and behavior.

The initial pre-procedure intake can take up to 60 minutes. Follow-up appointments can take as little as 30 minutes. Commonly, treatment may be performed two to three times per week. However, the number and spacing of treatments will often depend on the condition being treated and its severity. Generally, most patients receive between six and ten total treatments. 

What Happens During an Acupuncture Treatment?

Pressure points that are treated during acupuncture are located in all areas of the body. Oddly enough, the areas treated may not be close to the area for which you are seeking relief. For example, someone seeking acupuncture treatment for addiction may be surprised to find needles placed far away from their head and neck. Your acupuncture therapist will discuss the areas that he or she will be treated prior to your appointment. You will be given a gown, sheet, or towel and asked to lie facedown on a comfortable,massage-style table. The actual treatment involves the following

  • Needle insertion-Specialized needles are placed below the skin, to varying depths, at pressure points across your body. Most patients do not even feel the needles. Generally, between five and 25 needles are used during treatment. IT is possible you will notice a mild ache at the point of insertion. 
  • Needle manipulation-Your therapist may lightly move or wiggle the needles once they are inserted. He or she may also apply other stimulants, such as heat or electrical stimulation. 
  • Needle removal- Generally, acupuncture needles are left in place for ten to twenty minutes before removal. Most patients report little to no discomfort after the needles have been removed. 

While many people report good results after acupuncture, its effectiveness still varies. Because acupuncture is being used to treat such a wide range of ailments, including addiction, results can vary wildly from person to person. One patient may find instant results from migraines or other physical ailments whereas another patient can see little to no change. But again, because there is so little risk involved, acupuncture is gaining wide popularity for a number of different issues. 

Can Acupuncture be Used on its Own?

There have been many good results with acupuncture for drug treatment, however, most rehabilitation facilities still tend to use it as a secondary method in conjunction with other treatments. It is better to consider acupuncture as a complementary or secondary treatment. While acupuncture does show promising signs of being an effective method of treating symptoms of drug addiction, it isn’t a good idea to use it as a singular treatment. Think of it as an alternative or supplemental treatment. For example, Acupuncture can be extremely effective in treating withdrawal symptoms, but it cannot medically detoxify someone struggling with addiction. 

Perhaps the most appealing result of acupuncture is the way it promotes pain and stress relief as well as increases relaxation. With addiction, stress and anxiety often go hand in hand and acupuncture can be effective at treating both in a holistic way. While those who suffer from severe symptoms can still benefit from anti-anxiety and depression medication, acupuncture can absolutely help. 

Acupuncture Treatment for Addiction

Beating drug addiction is an extremely difficult journey that requires a unique approach in order to succeed. However, acupuncture has emerged as a vital tool in the fight against opiate addiction and is being utilized ever-increasingly. Patients going through the detoxification process can greatly benefit from the calming effects of acupuncture. 

In addition to traditional mental health treatment approaches, such as counseling and group therapy, acupuncture can aid patients in overcoming cravings and help stave off the dangers of relapse. 

More and more therapists are turning to acupuncture to treat all types of ailments, including opiate addiction. Acupuncture treatments help patients to relax and draw focus away from cravings and destructive thoughts. 

While it is not entirely understood how acupuncture is so effective, research shows evidence that acupuncture raises endorphin levels, which act as the body’s natural painkillers. A patient receiving acupuncture treatments is truly balancing their “yin and yang” energies and helping their body achieve healthier state-mentally and physically. 

Acupuncture as an Alternative Treatment for Addiction

Although acupuncture is still widely perceived as an “alternative medicine”, many mainstream rehab facilities are adding it to their arsenal because of how effective it has proven in addiction treatment. In fact, a study done in 1989 showed that acupuncture, used in conjunction with other treatments such as psychotherapy, can be almost twice as effective at treating addiction as traditional therapy alone. 

Acupuncture has proven to be an extremely effective alternative to traditional methadone-based detoxification treatments. Because methadone itself is an addictive drug, it is highly preferable to use a more natural detox approach if at all possible. 

Avoiding the side-effects of methadone based detox is one main reason acupuncture use is skyrocketing. Addicts who used a methadone based treatment often find themselves becoming addicted to methadone instead. Therefore, acupuncture treatments are far more desirable than methadone treatments because there are no side effects or addictive qualities.  

To inquire if you are a candidate for acupuncture as part of your addiction treatment, contact us today!

self-care in addiction recovery

Self-Care in Addiction Recovery

Self-care in addiction recovery is crucial to long-term sobriety. In addition to sobriety, self-care helps individuals experience joy, connection, and peace of mind. The practice of self-care means taking the time to take care of your overall well-being. 

As you move along the recovery process, it’s essential to be aware of your mental, emotional, and physical means. Our goal is to help you overcome addiction and build self-care habits that last long after treatment ends. 

What is Self-Care?

Self-care includes anything we do to refuel and recharge our mind, body, and spirit. It can involve anything from taking care of our hygiene and physical health, to activities that promote our mental and spiritual well-being.

Some individuals may be under the impression that it’s selfish to take part in self-care. We’re here to debunk this misconception! 

When we practice self-care and love ourselves, we start to become a better version of ourselves. This then positions us to be fully present in our lives and for the people who love and need us.

Why is Self-Care Important to the Addiction Recovery Process?

Addiction recovery is about far more than just sobriety. It’s about stepping into a new, healthier way of living. 

Changes in your lifestyle are directly tied to changes in your mental and physical well-being. Practicing self-care during addiction recovery allows you to form a plan that ensures you’re at your best.

Self-care in addiction recovery is an action, not merely a concept. Our treatment plan will help you incorporate self-care habits that will become a part of your daily routine.

Substance misuse is toxic to the mind, body, and spirit. Restoring and maintaining health in all areas of our lives is a focal point of addiction recovery. 

At Granite Mountain Behavioral Health, we believe in maximizing the addiction recovery experience is to practice self-care.

What are the Different Types of Self-Care in Addiction Recovery?

There are many different types of self-care when it comes to your overall well-being. These types of self-care can range from habits tied to physical health, to actions we take to promote our emotional being. 

It’s important to form habits ranging in different types of self-care during the addiction recovery process. When you take the time to improve yourself, you’ll notice the world around you start to adjust too. 

Emotional Self-Care

Emotional self-care can be defined as the actions we take to connect with our emotions and healthily process them. Our ability to regulate our emotions and form healthy coping mechanisms is vital to our happiness.

A few examples of emotional self-care activities for addiction recovery include:

  1. Journaling
  2. Therapy
  3. Using affirmations or mantras
  4. Meditation
  5. Practicing gratitude

Another critical component of emotional self-care is paying attention to your self-talk. Negative self-talk can lead to destructive behavior. Replacing negative self-talk with words that are loving and kind can make a massive difference in the quality of your life.

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care is all about taking care of your body. Body and mind are connected, so when you take the time to nourish one, the other will benefit as well. Exercise especially has enormous benefits to the way that you feel. 

Activities that promote physical self-care during addiction recovery include:

  1. Being active (going for a walk, a bike ride, going to the gym, etc.)
  2. Taking a relaxing bath
  3. Dancing to music you enjoy
  4. Getting a massage
  5. Napping (never gets old!)

Mental Self-Care

Mental self-care works on stimulating your mind and cultivating a healthy psyche. It’s crucial to make sure you’re growing and learning as the days go by. If you’re not taking the time to expand your mind, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. 

Activities that fall into mental self-care include:

 Listening to a podcast

  1. Trying a new hobby
  2. Visiting the museum
  3. Reading a book
  4. Learning something new

Social Self-Care

Connecting with others is a natural part of being a human being. We all crave connection. Satisfying this need ensures your social well-being is also taken care of. 

Self-care in the addiction recovery process means considering all parts of self-care, even when it involves other people.

Social self-care activities include:

  1. Scheduling regular calls with your family members
  2. Taking the time to hang out with friends
  3. Going on a date with your significant other
  4. Cuddling with a pet
  5. Writing a card and mailing it to someone you love and appreciate

Another crucial part of self-care is taking into consideration what relationships serve you and which do not. If there’s anyone you find draining to be around, it may be time to part ways. Your relationships should uplift and fulfill you, not the other way around.

Spiritual Self-Care

A spiritual self-care practice is any ritual that helps to connect you with your true self. The real you is the raw expression of who you are, before any conditioning or limiting beliefs took place. 

It’s energizing, inspiring, and, most importantly, it feels right. Spirituality means something different to everyone. 

For one, it may be the practice of Buddhism. For others, it means taking the time to be your own and check-in with how you genuinely feel. In any case, make sure to do what feels right to you. 

Spiritual self-care activities can come in the form of:

  1. Spending time in nature
  2. Religious/Spiritual practice
  3. Doing yoga
  4. Volunteering 
  5. Mindfulness/Meditation

Practical Tips for Self-Care During Addiction Recovery

An acronym that’s commonly used during addiction treatment is H.A.L.T. This stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. 

Feeling these negative states can trigger substance use in specific individuals. Self-care during the addiction recovery process helps to satisfy H.A.L.T states to ensure you’re feeling your best. 

Some practical tips for self-care include:

Fuel your brain and body with healthy food

A nutritious diet benefits your concentration and energy levels. This also leads to a more stable mood! Eating healthy food makes you feel good, and when you feel good, you’re less likely to be tempted by drugs or alcohol.

Take the time to enjoy yourself

Determining what activities help you relax is essential to addiction recovery. Finding ways to have fun helps show you that you don’t need drugs or alcohol to feel good. We encourage you to look into different types of hobbies, such as learning about new subjects and exercise.

Have a reliable sleep schedule

A lack of sleep negatively impacts every aspect of your health. Negative moods and emotions lead to a lack of energy and motivation. The better your body and mind feel, the better you will feel. 


Exercise has an enormous amount of benefits regarding addiction recovery. Consistently exercising helps to regulate stress levels. It also works as a mood booster due to the dopamine release that occurs when you’re exercising. 

Reducing stress

Stress can trigger relapse in many individuals. Practicing self-care during addiction recovery helps keep stress levels down. Adequate sleep, exercise, and mindfulness practice are all great techniques in reducing stress. 

Gratitude practice

Noticing the small joys can benefit your self-care routine in surprising ways. With a perspective of gratitude, life becomes more beautiful. Even on our difficult days, we have the gift of recovery and all the blessings that it brings. 

We encourage you to maintain a daily gratitude journal. Just listing five things that you’re grateful for daily can make a significant impact on how you feel. 

Why Should I Enroll in a Treatment Program at Granite Behavioral Health?

Our philosophy is what drives our members and us forward. We have determined that addiction recovery is achieved through an intentional combination of vital support and neuro-regeneration. 

We combine these evidence-based treatment methods with clinical care provided by genuinely caring, trained & certified professionals. With the help of a structured program, we’ll cover all the essential areas of self-care.

Our goal is to target all parts of the addiction. Here at Granite Mountain Health, we want to help you become the best version of yourself that you can be.

Another great advantage of a treatment center such as ours is the full range of amenities and services. A handful of what we provide includes:

  • All transportation to & from the clinical addiction treatment center, doctors’ appointments, 12 step meetings, house activities, the grocery store, and any other housing-sanctioned outings or activities
  • 24/7 clinical assistance
  • Accountability circles and house meetings
  • Weekend activities, including trips to Sedona, the Grand Canyon, bowling, movies, hiking, and swimming
  • Exercise and health: Yoga, cross-fit, and other sporting activities are available to members
  • Communication: Each member will have the opportunity to get a job and learn to communicate with an onsite house manager. The onsite house manager will help the individual organize and structure their day.

Jumpstart your Addiction Recovery Journey with Granite Behavioral Health Today!

Self-care is a crucial part of the addiction recovery process. No matter where you’re at, forming healthy habits and rituals is vital. 

Our overall well being must be maintained and paid attention to. It’s easy to neglect areas of your life that you know need attention. 

Addiction recovery can help shed light on all the areas of your life that could use some self-care.

You can kindly contact us here for more information about our addiction treatment programs. We’re here to answer all of your questions, comments, and concerns!


loneliness and alcoholism

Loneliness And Alcoholism

Being alone really hurts. It hurts so bad for some people that they turn to alcohol as a form of self-medication. Unfortunately, when people turn to alcohol or other substances to “feel better” it only exacerbates the problems in the long run. 

If left untreated, alcohol abuse will turn into alcoholism and will lead to damaged relationships, loss of support from friends and family, financial troubles, and eventually even serious health issues.

So why do some of us continue to drink even if we know it is harming us? This blog is aimed at understanding why loneliness can have the side effect of alcoholism and what we can do to turn our lives around. 

Loneliness: What’s The Big Deal?

Loneliness causes people to feel alone, unwanted, and empty. When we are lonely we crave human interaction, friends, family, a significant other, however, because of the feelings of loneliness, it makes it more difficult for us to actually form connections with others. So being lonely creates a pattern of loneliness.

Unfortunately, loneliness is not necessarily about being alone. Rather, when you feel isolated or alone, it is how that loneliness plays in your head that really begins to affect our mental health. 

Loneliness does not just affect our mental well being, it also affects our physical health negatively too. According to recent studies conducted by Cigna Health, loneliness could have roughly the same impact on mortality than smoking 15 cigarettes a day has. This means that loneliness has the potential to create far greater health risks than being obese! 

Studies have also shown that people who experience feelings of loneliness deal with more substance abuse problems, like alcoholism, and deal with increased mental health problems. However, it is also well known that alcoholism will only contribute to more feelings of loneliness and isolation which makes it a vicious and continuous cycle of pain.

Self Medication – Alcoholism Can Be A Side Effect Of Loneliness 

Every human on planet earth will experience the occasional feelings of loneliness, unhappiness, or anxiety but when these feelings last for long periods of time and we do not address the cause, a lot of people search for something to lessen the pain like self-medication. Self-medicating is a method that many do in an attempt to help handle the feelings or “numb the pain.”

Alcohol and drugs are the most popular form of self-medication and are used as tools because they briefly distract us from the pain we are feeling. Often our pain derives from failed relationships or relationship problems, loss of loved ones, money troubles, anxiety, or even physical pain. However, there is another feeling that isn’t widely considered and that is loneliness.

The problem with self-medicating is that the feeling we would get from alcohol and/or drugs is only temporary and they end up leaving us feeling even more drained or pained because these substances actually counteract and deplete the “feel good” chemicals in our brain that are designed to bring us pleasure and help regulate our moods. Crazy to think that we may turn to alcohol as a way to cure our feelings of loneliness but once we sober up; our feelings of sadness will only increase.

Alcoholism: The Science Behind Why It Hurts

When we drink a lot of alcohol it severely alters our behavior, mood, and neuropsychological functioning. For some of us, drinking alcohol is a way to relax. On the other hand, when we drink too much the effects of hangovers and alcohol will bring on anxiety and it actually increases our stress levels. 

Alcohol is classified as a Central Nervous System depressant. Alcohol slows down our neural activity and our brain function. Alcohol does this by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA.

Alcohol depresses the central nervous system and results in slurred speech, imbalance, false reality, or overreacting and it takes away our ability to have quick responses or reactions. The mental side effects of alcohol are that it reduces our ability to think rationally, distorts our judgment, and lessens our inhibitions. 

If we drink too much alcohol too quickly, it will result in the depression of our central nervous system which can actually lead to respiratory failure, coma, and yes, even death.

Some of us actually drink alcohol primarily for its sedative effects which tends to actually reduce our anxiety. And it is not a surprise that most of us who drink alcohol, start drinking to experience stimulation and its other positive effects like lowering our inhibitions. 

However, once we have reached the stage of alcohol dependence or alcoholism, we now drink to experience the anxiety that comes with the sedative effect. It is a crazy thing to think that we sometimes turn towards alcohol to reduce our anxiety and in the end, it really only makes our anxiety much worse. 

Loneliness And Alcoholism: The Battle To Get Better

Since it is strongly believed that alcoholism can be the side effect of poor mental health, as a result of strong and continued feelings of loneliness. it is important to deal with both issues since they both are directly connected. 

When you feel lonely, there are some proactive steps you can take towards feeling less alone:


Becoming a volunteer for a cause that you can relate to or that you believe in can give you lots of benefits and reduce feelings of loneliness. When you volunteer you get a sense of purpose and the natural “feel good” chemicals within our brains are activated by simply knowing you are trying to do something good. If you love babies, try volunteering at the local hospital to be a snuggler. 

If you like kids, try volunteering at a local school for their after school clubs or even volunteer for one of their sports teams. You can also volunteer at nursing homes to help someone else not suffer from feelings of loneliness. The list goes on and on. The additional benefit to volunteering is that when you do find something that you like to do, you will meet other like-minded people and friendships, even relationships can be formed. 


It is well known that the more lonely you are, the more depressed you feel, and the cycle continues. Seeking relief from loneliness through psychotherapy is a great option for anyone. Being that loneliness is often played out negatively in our own minds, cognitive behavioral therapy would benefit greatly because it can help to change our thoughts and patterns as well as our actions to assist in decreasing these feelings of loneliness and at the very least, teaching us a new way to cope with them in the future.

  • Adopt A Pet: Adopting a dog or cat carries many benefits and preventing further loneliness is just one of them! Pets bring a sense of companionship and friendship hence the often statement “Dogs are a man’s best friend!” The same thing is said about cats too; just ask your local “Karen – the cat lady” and she will be more than happy to give you a hundred reasons why owning a cat is a joy, except for the litter box. Gross!
  • Join A Class: There are lots of classes to consider; art, exercise, even your local community college will offer classes of all types. Learn a new skill, a different language, chess club, again the list goes on and on. Just like with volunteering, when you join a class that is something that is of interest to you, you will find other like-minded people and it is a great way to begin new relationships. 

Any of the above-mentioned things can help give you relief from the feelings of loneliness and can decrease the desire to drink alcohol. However, when dealing with alcoholism, you will need to focus on that part as well. Feeling less alone is great but if the addiction is not addressed, the feelings will be only temporary and will eventually have you feeling lonely and depressed again because of the side effects of alcoholism. 

Alcoholism: Time To Make A Change

We all want to believe that stopping drinking without any outside help may save whatever dignity we have left. However, depending on the severity of the alcoholism or the length of time we have battled the addiction, the chances that we should seek outside assistance to get sober becomes greater.

Many people feel shame because of their alcoholism and it prevents some of us from seeking help. There is never shame in wanting something better for your own life! There is no shame in asking for help – but there is shame in continuing to harm ourselves unnecessarily by staying in the grasps of alcoholism when there are so many treatment options available. 

Some treatment options for alcoholism include but are not limited to:

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

AA is one of the best options for battling loneliness and alcoholism since it addresses both issues because when you join AA you are always in a group of people that have had similar life experiences. AA meetings encourage everyone to speak and open up about their alcoholism and their negative experiences with their battles. This allows for a solid support system and friendships are greatly encouraged. 

Detox Programs

Detoxification (detox) programs are extremely helpful for anyone facing a serious bout with alcoholism because it allows you to stop drinking while keeping you comfortable and safe from the negative side effects of alcohol withdrawal via medication.

Inpatient Treatment Programs 

These programs are a good option for anyone that has a serious or prolonged battle with alcoholism. They usually include a detox program and then continue treatment by providing round the clock medical care and therapeutic practices to help you overcome alcoholism.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

These types of programs are a good fit for those who suffer from alcoholism but are still able to “function”. It is the same type of care you would receive in an inpatient treatment program except you are not required to stay overnight at the facility. They create a treatment program for you that gives the flexibility of keeping your daily responsibilities.

Do You Suffer From Loneliness And Alcoholism? Let Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare Help!

At Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, our team will answer any questions you might have and tell you everything you might want to know about fighting the battle of loneliness and alcoholism so you can make an informed decision on seeking treatment.

Whether you have never asked for help before or are relapsing, anyone deserves trustworthy help. You can count on that and much more at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare.

If you want more information so that you or a loved one can get the help needed, contact us today!



substance abuse cycle

The Dangerous Cycle of Codependency and Substance Abuse

Codependency doesn’t only refer to relationships and drug abuse; it also refers to a person and his or her drug addiction. This behavioral condition is destructive for both the addict and his or her significant other. The substance abuse cycle is a dangerous one that can leave you and your life in shambles. 

Learn how relationships with drug addicts can be dangerous and how you can handle them with help from Granite Mountain Behavioral Health. 

What is Codependency?

Codependency is a behavioral condition characterized by enabling a loved one’s destructive actions. While healthy relationships include mutual satisfaction and productivity, codependent relationships are usually one-sided and filled with abuse and emotional destruction.

Codependent people often feel the need to “save” their addicted loved ones. They’ll make excuses for their negative behavior, rescue them from situations related to the addiction, and take care of the addict when he or she can’t function normally.

People who are codependent tend to have had parents who abused alcohol or drugs (more commonly alcohol). If their parents aren’t able to take care of themselves because of their addiction, the child may have to step into the caretaking role, becoming codependent. These people also tend to end up with partners who abuse drugs like alcohol, heroin, or marijuana. 

Signs of Codependency

People who are codependent usually display the following symptoms:

  • Display low self-esteem. You often find it hard to make decisions and never feel like your actions are good enough. There’s a harsh judgment on your thoughts and expressions, and you don’t take compliments well. You constantly worry about what other people think of you.
  • You comply with negative situations. You’ll put aside your own interests to make others happy. You’ll also compromise your values and morals or “walk on eggshells” with loved ones to keep them happy. You tend to remain in destructive situations for longer than you should.
  • Avoid taking care of your needs. You’re more concerned with giving others advice instead of taking it yourself. You also give this advice out freely when nobody asks for it, and you get upset when others don’t take this advice.
  • You’re in denial. Identifying your feelings is difficult for you, and you often tend to deny or minimize them. You think you can take care of yourself without help from others, and you think that you’re dedicated to others and are unselfish.

Signs of a Codependent Relationship

  • Finding it hard to say no to your partner even when demanding your time and energy
  • Making extreme sacrifices for your partner
  • Not voicing your opinion and keeping quiet during arguments
  • Feeling trapped with your partner
  • Covering up a partner’s misdeeds, i.e. trouble with the law or illegal substances

How Can Relationships Trigger Drug Abuse?

A recovering addict could find triggers when they enter a new relationship. It’s often said that people in recovery should wait a while before dating someone new. When you’ve overcome an addiction, you might want to immediately repair the relationships you’ve strained. You might also think that your life will improve by having a significant other.

If you do decide to start a relationship at this point, you must be honest with them about your recovery. By communicating your needs and circumstances, your partner will be more open to the possibility of being with you. 

If you don’t, the stresses of being in a new relationship may drive you to take drugs and drink again. In some cases, a non-addict can begin dating someone and not find out they abuse substances until later on. 

The Effects of Addiction on Relationships

Being in a relationship with a drug addict can be difficult, frustrating, and confusing. Your substance-abusing partner can frequently break promises and ask you to borrow money for drugs. The more time your partner abuses drugs or alcohol, the more time they spend finding and using them instead of spending quality time with you.

Partners of drug addicts can also take on a dysfunctional family role known as the “enabler.” When you enable someone, you accept and promote bad behavior, even if you aren’t purposely doing it. Enabling is a common quality of codependent relationships. It can include providing someone with money for drugs or covering up for them when they get caught with substances. 

Your drug-addicted loved one might also be secretive about their substance abuse, hiding drugs, and lying about taking them. This can be due to their shame and fear of judgment that stems from their addiction. They’ll often lie about who they spend their free time with, why money is missing and why they’re behaving in a different way.

Constantly dealing with a partner’s drug use can also cause you a great deal of emotional pain. You might feel guilty about leaving them even if staying is damaging to your health. People in these roles may think that leaving means that they’re giving up on the person they love. 

People in relationships with drug addicts can experience the following problems:

  • Domestic abuse as a result of drug addiction
  • Fighting about staying out late and not taking care of responsibilities due to drug use
  • Only finding pleasure in drinking or drug use together
  • Only being able to talk about relationship problems when drunk or high
  • Isolating oneself from friends and family to hide your partner’s drug problem

The Cycle of Substance Abuse

The substance abuse cycle is a toxic, codependent repetition that can end in death if you don’t receive proper care. Addiction is a disease that takes over the body over time; it doesn’t usually happen after one sip of alcohol. By learning about the substance abuse cycle, you can observe each phase in yourself or a loved one and stop it before it gets worse. 

Initial Use

The cycle of substance abuse starts with initial use. When you turn 21, you’ll most likely have your first drink, or you’ll take a prescription drug when you’re recovering from a serious injury. You might even be pressured by friends to try illegal drugs like cocaine or MDMA. The initial use of a substance doesn’t always lead to addiction, but it can be the first step.

You’re likely to develop a drug addiction if you display one of the following risk factors:

  • Loneliness or depression
  • Neglected or abused as a child
  • Unstable home life
  • Family history of substance abuse


At this stage, the user is taking the substance more often than they should, or they’re using it improperly. This can include binge drinking (more than five drinks for men and four drinks for women in two hours), taking a higher dose of a prescription than necessary, or taking a painkiller without a prescription. Abuse depends on what the substance is and how it’s affecting the body. When someone abuses drugs or alcohol, they’re using it for “high” it produces rather than for its medical qualities or social aspects.  


Once someone frequently abuses a harmful substance, they’ll eventually develop a tolerance to it. Building a tolerance means that you’ve gotten used to having the drug in your system, and it’s made chemical changes to your brain. You might have fewer chemical messengers and less production of them as well. Now you need more and more of it to achieve the same effect. This is where severe substance abuse can begin.  


When you develop a dependence, your body now requires your substance of choice to function daily. You’ll most likely develop anhedonia, meaning that you won’t be able to feel pleasure without any meth or cocaine in your system. Dependence can also happen with prescription medication. While you might have needed this to improve your injury, it helped at first. However, now you’re using it to feel good instead of healing your body. 


Chronic dependence leads to addiction, which is classified as a mental illness. This can be diagnosed by looking at some specific signs and symptoms:

  • Craving the substance
  • Not keeping up with daily responsibilities (i.e. school, work) due to substance use
  • Having withdrawal when not using the substance
  • Dismissing old activities in favor of substance use
  • Inability to control how much you use the substance
  • Using more of the substance than planned
  • Continuing substance use despite negative effects on health and relationships
  • Using the substance in situations you shouldn’t, like driving

If you display six or more of these symptoms, you most likely have an addiction. 


Now you’ve stopped using your substance of choice and you’re in recovery from addiction. However, you come across physical, emotional, and environmental triggers that remind you of your past abuse. These can include stressful situations, places where and people with whom you did drugs, and objects like cigarettes and marijuana pipes. About 40 to 60 percent of addicts relapse within their first year of recovery. 

Codependency: Drug Abuse and User

When someone abuses substances to the point of dependency, he or she basically can’t function without them. This becomes a dangerous relationship that ends in chronic physical decline and even death.

If you have low self-esteem, you might think that you need drugs to feel better about yourself. If you’re lonely, you might surround yourself with drug-abusing friends who supply you with substances that make you feel accepted. 

Treatment for Codependency and Substance Abuse

At Granite Mountain, we can teach you and your partner how to develop healthy habits for your relationship going forward. If you’re in a toxic relationship, we can also provide you with life skills to deal with that. 

We can help you understand that you do not need drugs to help you feel like a better person. We can also show you that you don’t need to be in a codependent relationship to feel fulfilled.

If you are the partner who is abusing substances, we’ll recommend that you enter a medical detox program. This will get rid of all the harmful toxins in your body that have come from addictive substances. 

Detox is an important part of addiction recovery as it will end your physical dependence on drugs and alcohol. Medical professionals will help alleviate any withdrawal symptoms you might experience while in detox, usually by providing medication. 

Below is a list of helpful therapies you can attend at Granite Mountain:

Individual therapy

Individual therapy consists of only two people – you and your therapist. Together, you’ll determine the characteristics of your codependent personality and how you can improve your confidence. You’ll also gain insight into how addiction and codependency play off of each other. 

Group therapy

In group therapy, you’ll be able to speak freely about your issues with people who have gone through the same or similar experiences. A therapist will lead you and your peers in sessions as you learn communication skills and work through your codependency. 

Family therapy

When you’re in a codependent relationship with a drug addict, your family can often feel left out. Family therapy can help you rebuild broken relationships and help them understand your codependency, whether you’re the addict or the sober partner. You’ll learn skills that will help you learn how to interact in a more beneficial way. 

Substance abusers might also find it helpful to join a recovery group like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or SMART Recovery. Codependent partners can attend groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon and meet others who have substance-abusing loved ones. By keeping yourself accountable, you’ll be able to have healthy, more fulfilling relationships. 

If your partner has an addiction and is unwilling to seek help for it, Granite Mountain has resources for you. We can help you talk to your significant other about facing his or her addiction head-on. 

End Your Codependent Drug Abuse Today

Your cycle of codependency and drug abuse has gone on long enough. Granite Mountain can offer outpatient and partial hospitalization treatment for your loved one suffering from drug addiction. If you’re ready to seek help for your addiction or that of your partner, contact Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare today.

cognitive dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance Treatment

Oftentimes, people have an explanation for their behavior and tend to rationalize it to make what they are doing seem more acceptable. This is especially true for people who suffer from addiction to drugs and alcohol

Despite the physical and psychological consequences of drinking and taking drugs, individuals who have this disease, view their addictive behaviors differently than those who don’t. 

When friends and family try to make a person with a substance use disorder (SUD) see that they need help, it is common for someone with an addiction to not be deliberately willful. This is because they are set on their own beliefs and justify them, even though they are misguided and careless.  

When a person always has a rational explanation for their irrational behavior, this is known in psychology as the cognitive dissonance theory. 

At Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, our team aims to help our clients with addiction and mental illness recover. This is done by learning how to change their thought patterns and remove their dissonance through various methods of therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). 

What is Cognitive Dissonance?

Cognitive means thinking, and dissonance means a lack of harmony between two things. When you put the two together, cognitive dissonance is when two thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors are out of whack. This can make someone feel psychologically uncomfortable. 

The term cognitive dissonance was first coined in 1957 by Psychologist Leon Festinger. In his book titled, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Festinger’s hypothesis was centered around the notion that people can develop a pre-existing condition in which they have to always check that they’re acting in accordance with what they believe. This is called internal consistency. When one’s beliefs become inconsistent or conflicting, this leads to disharmony and conflict, which is what most people try to avoid. 

In other words, as cognitive dissonance is described as a person who experiences feelings of internal discomfort, as a result of having two opposing cognitions in their mind at the same time, Festinger’s theory was correct. 

It was proven that individuals tend to look for some sort of stability and dependability with their attitudes, perceptions, and thoughts. But, oftentimes, their beliefs and actions/behaviors do not match up. People fail to realize that everyone has different feelings and beliefs, which will influence how they are going to behave. The saying actions speak louder than words rings true in this case.

When someone wholeheartedly believes in something, and it is challenged, that makes someone angry and they act on it without thinking. This causes distress and tension, affecting one’s ability to function normally. 

As established, dissonance is a lack of agreement between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. People tend to act on their feelings/emotions, but do so impulsively. 

Therefore, to remove or resolve this dissonance all together, people have to do what is called, “explain something away.” This involves taking a number of steps and actions to overcome the discomfort by doing one of the things below including:

  • A person rationalizes their internal conflict by seeing it from a different perspective by adopting alternative ideas that could help to relieve or dispel negative thoughts and feelings. 
  • Someone changes their behaviors to better coincide with their thoughts.
  • Someone changes their thoughts to better coincide with their behaviors.  

The Relationship Between Cognitive Dissonance and Addiction

The theory of cognitive dissonance has serious implications and the role that it plays in those with addiction helps specialists understand the reasoning behind how an individual with a substance use disorder thinks vs someone without one. 

Addicted individuals crave drugs and alcohol, which distorts their ability to process information. When making the choice of whether to use or not, they believe in holding onto the ideas and comfort of engaging in things that they know are bad and irrational to a majority of other people. 

This is because the cognitive dissonance theory explains that people are willing to increase their own delusional ways of thinking to protect themselves from reality. It is similar to why a person drinks and takes drugs to cope and numb themselves from the discomfort or pain they are feeling.  

Again, an addict’s brain is different from someone who is not addicted to drugs and alcohol. For example, a person who tends to binge drink will justify their behavior by saying it is just a couple drink when in reality it is an excessive amount in a short period of time. 

Someone with addiction experiences cognitive dissonance often. They tend to modify their thought processes to support their cravings and addictive behavior, in order for them to feel or assure themselves that their choices or how they are acting is more favorable than it actually is. 

There is so much evidence that details how alcohol and drugs destroy lives, but addicted individuals will still justify the means, and view these substances as their form of support. People with cognitive dissonance blame their addiction issues and the reason why they drink excessively is that they have problems in their lives. Examples of how cognitive dissonance affects a person with substance abuse include the following: 

  • They believe that people who do not engage in the use of drugs and alcohol are boring and lack character. 
  • The reason for abusing substances is because they believe it is a sign of artistic intelligence.
  •  People who become sober are deprived of life and can never experience happiness. 
  • The only comfort for one’s problems is alcohol and drugs. 

A big component of cognitive dissonance and addiction is denial. People who are addicted to substances tend to deny that they have a problem, to begin with. Those with this distorted way of thinking may not even realize that they have a problem, or if they do, they ignore it. They believe that no amount of help is needed, there is no help available, or that treatment can’t help them and recovery is unattainable. 

People with addiction tend to feel alone, and the one thing that makes them feel whole is to drink and take drugs. Little do they know, overdose, coma, seizures, and death occur before finally deciding to get help. 

However, there are fortunate individuals who see how their substance abuse is causing not only destruction in their lives but also with those who love them. They hold onto the belief that they will see better days and that recovery is needed to change their life.

Factors of Cognitive Dissonance 

In today’s world, people do things or have beliefs and opinions that sometimes leave us questioning humanity. Maybe they do not make much sense to you or other people, but everyone is different. 

While it is true that people do crazy and illogical things, behaviors are linked and related to what we are influenced by biologically, environmentally, physically, psychologically, and socially. There are major factors that contribute to the cause of addiction and cognitive dissonance. These include: 


  • Decision-Making: Cognitive dissonance completely changes an individual’s ability to make decisions, especially ones with addiction. 
  • Forced Compliance Behavior: When a person is forced to do something that they didn’t want to do, and their thoughts provoke them to do it anyway. 
  • Effort: If we put a lot of effort into something and it goes poorly, people tend to justify it that they did the best they could. This is called effort-justification. 


There is no doubt that cognitive dissonance can have a powerful influence on our behaviors and actions. 

How Addiction Affects Decision-Making 

People want to believe that they or others make good choices. Although, when something they once believed turns out too good to be true, it conflicts with their pre-existing beliefs about their decision-making abilities. 

This theory of cognitive dissonance plays a major role especially for those who suffer from substance abuse. Addiction is a disease that already changes the chemistry of the brain and its ability to function normally. The regions that allow us to think and make decisions effectively have been damaged. 

For someone with addiction issues, when dissonance comes into play, it greatly compromises their ability to make rational decisions. One could argue that drinking and taking drugs is ultimately someone’s choice. 

However, while that may be true, evidence-based scientific research has shown that this disease plays mind games, controlling all aspects of a person’s life, mentally, physically, and socially. 

In other words, cognitive dissonance works in tandem with addiction. It completely changes a person’s moral compass, which is why the choice they make to engage in these addictive behaviors is stronger than just willpower. 

The neurotransmitters within the brain have been modified to now accommodate drugs and alcohol, essentially brainwashing people into believing that these substances are “good” for them. Without professional help, the cycle of addiction will continue.  

Cognitive Dissonance Treatment 

When there are conflicts between cognitions (thoughts, beliefs, opinions), people will take steps to reduce the dissonance and feelings of discomfort. This is what addiction specialists at Granite Mountain specialize in.

Have you ever felt a sense of tension in your mind, but you weren’t sure why or what was causing it? This psychological phenomenon of cognitive dissonance is hard to detect, but for those with addiction, it is important to recognize. This can help be able to detect any underlying mental illness that can be a major contributor to someone’s addictive behavior. Co-occurring disorders (addiction and substance disorder coinciding) can be managed with dual diagnosis treatment.

Cognitive dissonance in a  way is mental illness within itself, and without treatment, the chances of relapse are high, and most importantly, it exacerbates an individual’s condition and hinders their chances of a successful recovery. 

If you or a loved one is suffering from cognitive dissonance and addiction and would like to learn more about treatment options, contact us today! We will help you recover and get your life back!