Mental Health Warrior

Mental Health Warrior: Trevor McDonald

Finding the strength to ask for and accept help after years of addiction is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It truly helped me get by life back on track. Being sober strengthens my personal relationships, makes me see the world in a new light, and gives me confidence.

Stronger Relationships

Any person struggling with substance use or addiction knows the condition takes a toll on our relationships. Whether it’s personal or professional relationships, being addicted to drugs or alcohol puts a strain on our everyday lives. I can’t count how many times a loved one was disappointed in me, tried to get me help, or distanced themselves to protect their own sanity. Addiction not only affects you, but also those around you.

Now that I’m sober, I see this more clearly and I see how much my vices were hurting the ones I love. Being sober, I can now work to strengthen those relationships. It will take time, but I am slowly building trust, credibility, and respect in the relationships my addiction tore down.

Focus on Physical and Mental Health

It’s no surprise substance use has an extremely detrimental effect on your health. Short term effects can include insomnia, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression, just to name a few, and the long-term consequences can be lung disease or cancer, diseases spread by contaminated needles like HIV, or even death.

This month in National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and that got me thinking about the direct connection between drug or alcohol use and suicide. Suicidal thoughts affect people regardless of where they live, how much money they make or their race, gender, or any other type of identify. But, engaging in drug or alcohol use increases a person’s chances of dying by suicide.

More than 90 percent of people who fall victim to suicide suffer from depression, have or substance use disorder, or both.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S.:

  • Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death
  • In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans ages 10 or older died by suicide.
  • From 1999 to 2016, suicide rates increase in 49 states.

In teens, substance use turns mood swings and negative emotions, which are otherwise a normal part of the developing teenage brain, into a much more dangerous situation. Substance use can bring on depression and suicidal thoughts.

Getting sober gives me the peace of mind that I’m taking care of my body and prioritizing my physical and mental health. No longer do I worry if I might wake up in a hospital bed. I am living my best life and am healthier every day.

Greater Perspective

Lastly, getting sober has helped me put the world into perspective. We all have our issues and stresses in life and too often, we turn to drugs or alcohol to numb these feelings. But this is only making the problem worse. What really helps when I am feeling stressed is to go outside, take a walk, and marvel at all of the amazing nature surrounding me. I think about how small I am in this big world and how my problems are minuscule compared to the vastness of our universe. Why destroy my body, mind, and life when I can feel truly connected to the world and people around me?

Everyone is fighting their own battle and for me, that was addiction. It’s important to realize addiction isn’t a war to be fought alone. Just like any battle, you need support, personal strength, and hope. The more help and positivity you seek and surround yourself with, the better the outcome and the closer you get toward recovery.

If addiction is a struggle for you, then I hope you can join me on this adventure. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, don’t be afraid to seek help now.