My integrated treatment journey for substance use and psychiatric disorders

I’m writing this post to share my experience with integrated treatment for substance use and mental health issues. It’s been a long journey - one that has changed me in so many ways.

My treatment began three years ago, when I decided I was ready to make a change. I had grown tired of the cycle of hitting bottom and going through the same steps again - it felt like an endless loop. I wanted to end that cycle and find a way to manage my substance use and mental health conditions effectively.

Since then, I’ve been receiving integrated treatment, which combines both psychotherapy and medications to address both the substance abuse issues and any underlying psychological problems – such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or PTSD – that may have been playing a role in my self-medication behaviors.

Integrated treatment has been an important part of my recovery process. It’s helped me learn positive coping skills to better manage difficult emotions and situations without having to resort to using drugs or alcohol to cope with them. Additionally, the medications have helped stabilize my moods so that I can better focus on other aspects of my health such as nutrition, exercise and developing healthier relationships with others.

The process hasn’t been easy – there have been tough times and often it felt like things weren’t changing quickly enough for me but over time all the hard work has paid off in improved physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. The benefit is hard to explain but incredibly rewarding. And although there are still some challenges that come up from time to time as expected in life – overall, life looks a lot different than it did before I started this journey!

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I hear you and relate to your experience with integrated treatment for substance use and mental health issues. The process can be tough and long before we see the fruits of our labour, but it’s so worth it when we do eventually reap the benefits! I’m 42 years old, and have been managing my own mental health for about five years now. It started when I finally opened up to a good friend about how unhappy and out of control I felt – that friend was the first one who really cared how I was doing and showed me what true compassion looks like. From there, I swapped unhealthy coping strategies (like drinking too much or avoiding important conversations) with healthier ones like meditation, yoga, therapy, self-compassion practices etc.

It has taken a lot of effort to maintain this healthy balance – sometimes it feels like as soon as I get something under control another issue pops up in its place. But over time I have learned to be more mindful of this cycle which helps me take better care of myself overall. It’s been difficult yet so important journey – one where I’ve grown not only in terms of getting better at managing my own mental health but also in feeling truly seen and heard by others around me.