The 10th of October was World Mental Health Day and October is National Substance Abuse Awareness month. When we think and talk about mental health too often the issue of substance abuse isn’t tackled but the two are often very closely linked.

Our passion at TLT is to raise up young people to be powerful, healthy and whole individuals. When we asked them what they felt like they needed to talk about recently Mental Health, Anxiety and Depression was at the top of the list. 2020 has been a pretty wild ride so far and it’s no shock that people are struggling.

Having a mental illness or struggling with mental health can contribute to a person’s desire to self-medicate in order to cope, and on the flipside, substance abuse can also result in mental health issues or even trigger mental illnesses or disorders. It’s important for us to be aware and to know how to help ourselves and others.

Here are 5 tips for dealing with substance abuse and its repercussions.

  1. Identify the problem. Have the courage to admit to yourself and someone you trust that you are not coping. It’s okay to struggle! If you’re self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, although it gives you a temporary fix, it is ultimately doing more harm than good.
  2. Ask for help. If you are struggling with substance abuse triggered by mental health or any other factors speak to someone. We were never meant to do this life alone and the longer you try to fight the battle in isolation, the longer it controls you. Asking for help takes courage, which can feel scary, but your future self will thank you for being brave and getting the support you need.
  3. Talk about mental health! Be intentional about creating a safe space in your presence for others to talk about how they’re feeling without judgement or fear.
  4. Be vulnerable. We all battle at some point and need to be reminded that we aren’t alone. Whether someone is in the thick of the struggle with you or has been through it at another point in their lives, it helps to know you aren’t alone. When we are vulnerable, we show others that it’s okay for them to be too and this is important for anyone struggling with a mental illness or an addiction.
  5. Check up on your friends. Sometimes the people we least expect are the ones struggling the most. As much as sharing awareness posts on social media help to break down stigma, they don’t necessarily create a space for someone to share vulnerably with you. People who struggle with substance abuse and mental health issues need to be seen, checked up on and cared about. This requires effort and intentional relationship building.

If you or someone you know is battling with substance abuse, an addiction or with a mental illness there is help and there is hope! Don’t allow what others think stop you from helping yourself or someone you care about.