How to be supportive of someone going through a substance use disorder

Life is usually tougher for someone trying to face an addiction who does not have a support system of friends, relatives and others. In the absence of social support, it’s common for them to feel like they are alone and isolated in their struggle with alcohol or drug addiction.

We know that people in treatment for SUD have professional support, but knowledgeable support from people who are close to them is crucial as well. There is sometimes a tendency for friends or family to back away from that person in treatment – especially when you have limited understanding of addictions – but there are a few ways you can help.

Substance use disorder defined

First it is helpful to have some background on SUDs. Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol or drugs causes significant impairment, such as health problems and failure to cover responsibilities at work, school or home.  A diagnosis of mild, moderate or severe to indicate the level of severity is made by a clinician.

Oftentimes a person will have a dual diagnosis, also called co-occurrence, which involves experiencing a substance use disorder and mental illness simultaneously. In turn, integrated care is required to help the individual overcome physical addictions and negative habits, to address mental illness and end cycles of returning to drugs to cope.

How you can help

Treatment for SUD could mean treatment in an outpatient facility, in which family interaction continues, or an inpatient facility, in which the consumer is sometimes separated from family for some amount of time, with visitations scheduled along the way. If family counseling is offered to you, it is a good way to gain skills and the right frame of mind to help. Please take part if this is offered. Whether it’s inpatient or outpatient treatment, the consumer usually eventually returns to a familiar setting, and that is when you should be ready to help.

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Overcome stigma: Stigma involves judgmental negative attitudes about mental health and drug/alcohol addiction. It’s important to reverse negative perspectives and recognize that mental health disorders and SUDs are treatable. Equipped with a little knowledge and guidance, you can be an important support for your loved one on the road to recovery.
  • Take time to find the right words and perspectives to discuss addiction. For example, rather than saying someone is an alcoholic, better to say they are experiencing an alcohol use disorder and on the road to recovery.
  • Focus on day-to-day health. Help set new daily habits if it seems appropriate. New activities and focus on diet and exercise are good steps.
  • Be aware of the surrounding culture, behaviors and cycles. Help your loved one make good choices. Friends who act like nothing is wrong and ignore a problem can make it harder to break the cycle. Time with acquaintances who do not have a supportive perspective should be limited with sensitivity but assertiveness.
  • Take advantage of support groups: Attend Al Anon or Nar Anon meetings. These programs provide support to the families and friends of those addicted to alcohol or drugs and those with loved ones on the road to recovery. These support groups are very important in helping reduce the fatigue that care-taking can cause.
  • Take time to read. Keep learning. There is a wealth of evidenced-based material online from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and countless other sources.
  • Trust your caring instincts: The fact that it is more important to show that you genuinely care than to say precisely the right thing every moment is a word of encouragement offered in Mental Health First Aid. Just show the person you care and ask how you can help them in their recovery.

  Helping someone overcome a SUD is a weighty task but can be made easier with gained knowledge. If you are concerned that you or someone you know is struggling with SUD, know that Community Reach Center, your north Denver metro mental health center, is here to help. Visit communityreachcenter.org or contact us by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday to learn more about our services. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

How to Care for Your Mental Health in Retirement

Mature man sitting at desk

Most people who have full-time careers look forward to the day that they can retire. Reaching that milestone is certainly an accomplishment and something to be celebrated. However, the transition into retirement is a major life change, and like any change, it can present mental and emotional challenges. At our mental health clinic, we encourage those approaching retirement age to give some thought to steps they can take to stay happy, healthy and well-adjusted as they advance into this new phase of life.

Tips for Making the Move Into Retirement

For most people, the number one concern as their chosen retirement date approaches is whether they will have enough money to take care of their physical needs after they stop working. That is an important determination to make. However, it is also crucial to think about how you will address your mental and emotional needs. Below are 10 proven tips for increasing overall well-being in retirement.

  1. Decide what you want out of retirement. Do you want to travel extensively? Spend most of your time with family? Start a second career? Having a goal can keep you challenged and focused, and both are good for your mental health.
  2. Do the math. As noted above, there should be more to retirement than simple survival. If you can, be sure you have the funds you need to support an enjoyable lifestyle.
  3. Confirm your plans with your partner, if you have one. Happiness starts at home. If your partner isn’t on board with your approach to retirement, it can be a stressful situation.
  4. Pick your retirement date and stick to it. Whether out of a sense of obligation to keep working or a fear of what comes next, it’s easy to put your retirement on hold indefinitely. Unfortunately, doing so may leave you feeling frustrated and unfulfilled.
  5. Tend to your physical health. Do your best to stay healthy. Medical concerns – especially about conditions that could have been avoided – can adversely affect your mental health.
  6. Consider part-time employment or volunteer work. Having endless days with no obligations may sound like a dream come true. However, most people find that they are happier when they have some recurring items on their calendar and are making a contribution to society in some form. A sense of purpose is key to happiness.
  7. Stay connected with old friends and ideally make some new ones. The love and support you feel when you spend time with people you care about is good for your mental health. Making new acquaintances is also good for your wellbeing and provides some variety.
  8. Maintain a schedule. Even if you aren’t working or volunteering, it is a good idea to stick to a schedule to some degree. Committing to tasks like gardening every other morning for an hour and walking the dog daily in the afternoon provides a healthful lifestyle.
  9. Spend time with family regularly. If you live near your children or grandchildren, make time to see them on a regular basis. Even if you or they only have time for short visits, maintaining those relationships is very important.
  10. Pursue a new hobby or interest. Learning new things takes on a whole new feeling when you aren’t pressed for time and can relax and immerse yourself in the activity.

Putting the Shine on Your Golden Years

Even though you’ve stopped working, a happy, healthful life does require some work. Make a plan for how you will care for your mental health after retirement and you will get much more enjoyment out of the next chapter of your life.

If you are facing mental health challenges before or after you retire, you can connect with our mental health clinic at communityreachcenter.org or contact us by phone at 303-853-3500 to learn more about our services, and please have a look at our array of Senior Reach services located on our website. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Denver Mental Health Services Provider’s Strategies for Improving Self-Confidence

Woman Smiling

Self-confidence or self-esteem can be defined as trust in your own abilities, judgment and personal qualities. As we tell people who use our Denver mental health services, while self-confidence feels good in general, there are many other benefits from having appropriate self-esteem, including:

  • Fewer feelings of guilt, shame or worthlessness
  • Stronger relationships built on a foundation of equality
  • Greater ability to deal with adversity
  • Lower stress level
  • Increased assertiveness in getting what you want and need in life

While it takes time and commitment for a person who is lacking in self-confidence to develop more of it, the end result is worth the effort.

11 Tactics for Taking on Your Insecurities

The key to improving your self-confidence is taking action. That action may be physical or mental, but the goal is to continually move in a more positive direction. Below are some tactics you can use to elevate your self-esteem.

  1. Think positively about yourself. One aspect of having a more favorable opinion of yourself is to listen for negative self-talk and when you hear it, immediately counteract it with positive mental statements about the fact that you are a unique person with many positive qualities who deserves to be happy and respected.
  2. Practice good personal hygiene. While putting effort into looking “presentable” can create a positive impression of you in others, the real reason to do it is that it creates a positive impression of you in you.
  3. Exercise regularly. Whether it is a brisk walk or a vigorous workout, elevating your heart rate releases “feel good” hormones that can have a positive impact on your mood and outlook. 
  4. Eat a healthy diet. Fueling your body properly helps give you the physical energy you need to be confident.
  5. Get adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on your health in general and your emotional health in particular.
  6. Improve your posture. Poor posture can be an external sign of internal feelings of fear and submissiveness. Standing or sitting up straight with your chin up and shoulders back communicates a more upbeat message to yourself and others.
  7. Use stress reduction practices. It is more difficult to be self-assured when you are experiencing stress. Use techniques such as meditation, yoga or prayer to manage and reduce your stress.
  8. Pursue hobbies you enjoy. Taking time out from your daily obligations to indulge an interest makes a statement to yourself that you deserve enjoyment.
  9. Prepare for life’s challenges. One of the biggest threats to your self-confidence can be the fear that you are not up to a particular task. The best way to eliminate that fear is to do all you can to prepare yourself for it. Researching the topic, role-playing the conversation or doing other prep work can make a big difference in your belief that you can handle the situation.
  10. Practice gratitude. The more you recognize the good things in your life, the more you start to see that you are deserving of them.
  11. Be kind. Observing yourself being thoughtful on a regular basis confirms that you are a good person with much to offer your friends, family and community.

Perhaps most importantly, have realistic expectations for change. If you have suffered from a lack of self-confidence for years (or decades), reshaping your self-image will take time. Be patient with yourself and know that there will be setbacks along the way. However, if you are persistent in your efforts, there is no question that you can be a more confident person in the future than you are today.

Helping You See Yourself in a More Positive Light

Developing the ability to consistently face the world with confidence can be life-changing. If you need help with increasing your self-esteem, we’re a leading Denver mental health services provider, and we’re here to help. Visit communityreachcenter.org or contact us by phone at 303-853-3500 to learn more about our services. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.