Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience with mental health:
Hi my name is Lee. My experience with mental health involved a lot of self-doubt and self-loathing which in time lead to addiction and I became addicted to drugs.
How did you cope with these challenges?
My response to these challenges was initially negative and I struggled to cope with them which resulted in me essentially becoming an addict. My addiction progressively got worse and because of this I lost a lot.
Drug addiction affects all areas of life, including relationships. Addiction makes it hard to maintain trust and open communication – critical elements in a healthy relationship. When a person is addicted to a substance, they revolve a lot of their life around obtaining and using the drug. This may lead to neglecting responsibilities or the needs of those around them. As a result, their partner, friends and family will feel hurt, angry and betrayed.
Addiction is a treatable disease. With time and effort, you or anyone affected by the addiction, can repair the damage and move towards recovery together.
Since overcoming my addiction I have gone on to become very successful professionally and I am now Lead at Bespoke Financial, a national award winning PRIMIS firm, ranking at number 1, with a team of over 50 incredible staff. Our ethos is ‘Little Bricks Build Big Family Homes’. If you can take care of the little things in life, and do them to the best of your ability, you will build the foundations required for everything to fall into place. I truly believe that and follow that ethos through both our business and home life.
What advice would you give to others?
Slowly but surely, over time, I focused on the following ‘smaller’ aspects to help build the foundations to improve my addiction:
Surround yourself with the right people
Your relationships and friendships are likely to change as you overcome your addiction. It may take time to appreciate a new normal. You may find that friends and family whom you could not get along with while you were embroiled in your addiction welcome you back into their lives.
Learning techniques to help with coping and overcoming negative thoughts and feelings is key. It’s important to work through thoughts of relapse. This can only happen with proper treatment and support from organisations such as Mind.
Take time to heal
It is important not to see relapse as a failure. The first thing to do when you realise you have relapsed is to understand what happened. Understanding why you relapsed is often one of the most important parts of truly overcoming an addiction.
Once you understand your triggers and weaknesses, you can put things in place to reduce the chance of relapsing again. You can then apply what you learned from the first time you quit or cut down to be more successful next time.
Change your habits
Some people find that when they quit or change an addictive behavior, another comes along to replace it. Heavy drinkers and smokers often find themselves overeating and putting on weight. People struggling with other addiction might find themselves obsessed with exercise.
Addictive behaviours have similar neurological and psychological processes and create rewarding feelings and sensations. So replacement addictive behaviours are common among those trying to overcome an addiction.
The only way to fully put a stop to replacement addictions is by addressing any unconscious emotions and working through rather than projecting them onto different substances or activities. Also, working with a counsellor to learn how to better identify your triggers and habits is extremely important in preventing a substitute addiction from developing.
Talk to people
Reach out to those around you to ask for support. Though not the case for everyone, writing is sometimes easier than speaking, especially when it comes to asking for help. There is something about writing that allows you to collect your thoughts and organise them in a way that makes sense. Try writing an email to express how you feel.
If you know you are struggling, make an appointment with your doctor, and tell them what has been going on. They’ll likely have some questions for you in order to better assist you in the next steps. Not much fazes doctors, which is a comfort when admitting something that is difficult for you. Just remember that they’ve likely seen and heard it before.
Change your life
My advice to others in the same situation would be to surround yourself with the right people for support, talk to people both friends and family as well as professionals such as your doctor, counselling or support groups.
Educate yourself and read up on addiction and coping techniques, there are lots of useful books and resources which cover addiction and how to overcome it.
And finally change your habits from negative ones which feed your addiction and focus on ways to improve your health, happiness and relationships so that you can change your life.
Through determination and persistence I was able to overcome my addiction and go on to develop both personally and professionally to become a successful businessperson, and you can do the same!
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