Ways in Which Your Environment Can Support Recovery
Our National Drug Deaddiction helpline witnessed a significant spike in distressed calls between April to June, taking the number to a total of whopping 9400. It has been highest from January to March 2020, where 8208 calls were received. Though the number has decreased as the lockdown restrictions eased in the country, the initial days saw a spike of over 200% in the calls from drug users.
Confronting addiction, be it of your loved one or yourself, is always scary. While the lockdown made it difficult for addicts to access drugs, other environmental factors have been strenuous enough for its steady influence.
Past researches have shown that a person’s environment significantly influences their addiction and relapse pattern. Although the environment has effects on all ages, young people are especially susceptible. A report published in the Archives of Psychiatry observed that for nicotine, alcohol, and cannabis, family environmental factors are crucial in influencing their use in early adolescence.
There are no single identifiable reasons for addiction; however, human behaviour seems to be a strong influence. For instance, a person working in stressful or volatile conditions may always impact his/her mood once they go home after working hours. Our friends, family, or loved ones influence our behaviours significantly.
6 Environmental Factors Influencing Addiction & Its Recovery
You cannot deny the fact that early life experiences and other family interactions play a crucial role in developing a person’s mental health. Parenting styles, family interactions, and levels of supervision at home also play a key role in fostering substance use. Besides, a stressful environment can have a substantial impact on behaviour, especially for children or those having childhood traumas. Spouses and siblings of drug users are also at a greater risk of substance abuse. Living in such a home environment where consumption of alcohol or drugs is regarded as a normal behaviour can make an adolescent or person develop similar behaviour or make similar life choices. If you can relate to these instances or similar situations, you may know the reasons for your addiction problems.
Family, however, can play a pivotal role in addiction recovery as well. If your loved ones suffer from any substance addiction, you can give them emotional or practical support to help recover. A supportive home environment is critical for addiction recovery and minimising relapse.
Friends do have an impact on the life choices we make or how we behave in public. The habits and patterns of friends invariably affect people in the group because of peer pressure. Individuals who have lesser critical views of substance abuse are likely to use them earlier for enjoyment but later may develop a habit due to its persistent use. The sense of belonging to someone or feeling connected becomes a decisive factor in the maintenance of an addiction. Though adolescents and teenagers are more likely to get affected by peer pressure for substance abuse if you socialise with such people even as adults, there are chances of developing similar behaviours.
Peer group is an instigator in the same way as a family for creating a change for an addict. If a person connects with people who have recovered successfully from their addiction or do not instigate such habits, their company can be helpful in an individual’s recovery.
Social media may offer many benefits like growing amongst a large community or connecting with like-minded people; it indeed has many downfalls. Whenever a person is struggling with emotional issues, they can become isolated or damage self-esteem by looking at the lives of other people online. It, in turn, intensifies the mental health struggles of those who are already susceptible to them.
If your loved one is consuming toxic or harmful social media content, make sure they are also watching stories of people or influencers who have put their recovery stories. Apart from this, many stories of stigma relating to addiction and mental health are available on social media that can help your loved ones recover better.
Behaviour, in general, is also influenced by media consumption such as video games, news, and television shows. Display of unrealistic goals and wishes like a perfect relationship, violence, sex, and display of casual use of substance consumption can encourage young viewers to be self-critical and adopt such behaviours. Especially the portrayal of drugs and alcohol in a favourable light can influence both child’s and adolescent’s behaviour around them.
Your loved ones going through addiction problems or its recovery should not be allowed to consume such media. If they do, it must be limited. Friends and family can help them understand the adverse effects of consuming addictive substances.
Culture and religion-based triggers can also be responsible for addiction sustenance. The geographical location of a person has a greater influence on their belief, early experiences, learnings, and participation in religious activities. For instance, some cultures accept both male and female drinking, while some only accept male drinking alcohol. This type of cultural norms also defines a person’s behaviour and response to rebellious situations.
However, if the same person learns every aspect of cultural and religious values that do not cause harm in any way, it can help in their recovery. For instance, an individual can learn the harmful effects of drinking at an early age irrespective of their age or gender. It will help them not have a rebellious mindset for drinking alcohol. Even if they somehow do, it can be helpful in recovery.
The physical environment can cause many issues to people who have addiction problems as it can host significant triggers. Grabbing drinks after work to having a couple of beers while watching a game, to having night outs with drinks can be a hotbed for temptation and alcohol cravings. A person can develop a behavioural pattern when they continuously visit a specific place, especially if it is related to substance consumption.
Staying in a particular environment where your loved ones can watch people drink alcohol less often can help them in a quick recovery.
Tips for Creating Transformation Environment for Better Recovery
- Create a low-stress environment by distancing yourself from as much negativity as you can. Engage in activities that help you relax often. You can also move-in with your trusted loved one.
- Avoid major trigger factors like visiting places of substance consumption or meeting friends who regularly consume alcohol.
- Do not try to recover alone from addiction. Take help or support of your loved ones.
- You can also join a self-help group where you can share recovery or addiction-related challenges.
- If you have an upcoming stressful event, always take the help of your wingman or wingwoman ahead of managing the things. Be prepared in advance and ask them to rescue you from situations where alcohol is being consumed.
- To avoid rising insecurities, do not use social media.
- Always talk to your close friends or family about your addiction problems. It can help you recover in a better way.
Many factors can define a person’s addiction problems, but one thing is for sure that environmental factors play a crucial role in recovery. If your loved one is facing addiction problems and needs help, you can talk to them about how you can support them during recovery. Identify the trigger points and make those small but significant environmental changes. Everything combined will become a proactive factor in supporting their recovery from addiction.