Addiction and financial hardship are often seen as connected. While there is evidence that higher levels of poverty result in higher rates of addiction, it is sometimes hard to tell which one comes first. Whatever the case may be, as Britain sinks into the cost-of-living crisis, it will come as no surprise to see addiction rates continue to increase.
Research shows that the current cost of living crisis is having a huge impact on people’s mental health and is especially negatively impacting those who already struggle with mental health issues of some kind.
A report from Rethink Mental Illness and Money and Mental Health Policy Institute shows that (of those surveyed):
- 59% said that over the last 12 months concerns about money had impacted their mental health “a lot”.
- 38% experienced not having enough money to afford enough food and 46% had reduced the number of meals they ate per day.
- Half experienced not having enough money to repair or replace an essential item
- A third (29%) experienced not having enough money to afford utilities – the continuing increase in fuel and energy prices means that this figure is only continuing to increase. One in five (20%) had missed a payment for a bill.
- A further survey of 1,000 adults in the UK found that over 1 in 5 experienced stress, anxiety, or depression due to financial worries.
At Kennedy Street, we are very aware of the impact that mental health has on addiction. Addictive behaviours or substances are often used as coping mechanisms for dealing with issues like stress, anxiety, and depression.
Approximately 80% of people in drug and alcohol treatment have mental health problems including depression and anxiety.
This clip above is from a chat we had with Chris Stewart from @mindsminding Mental Health First Aid.
For those who have or are currently struggling with addiction, the growing crisis and the stress it’s causing may understandably be quite triggering. Not only that but a higher cost of living is shown to increase loneliness and isolation, relationship strain, sleep disturbance and poor diet and nutrition – all things that are shown to negatively influence addiction.
An active addiction of almost any kind can then go on to have a negative impact on a person’s mental health and finances. As more money is spent on engaging in the addiction, or more time is taken off work due to physical or mental illness or the impacts of the addictive substance or behaviour – thus forms a vicious cycle.
So how do we break this cycle?
Sadly, the rising cost of living is out of most people’s control, and achieving financial stability may not be possible right now. But engaging in healthy, recovery-minded practices can help to reduce stress, improve mental health, and stop the downward spiral of addiction as we face these challenges.
1. Start your recovery journey
If you have never made the choice to reach out and get help to actively address your addiction, now is the best time to make that first step. Whatever addiction you might be struggling with, there is support available for you, and at Kennedy Street Recovery, we are committed to helping you start and maintain your recovery journey. We recommend abstinence-based, 12-Step recovery, and have plenty of resources to help you get started.
2. Stay connected
Being part of a community is so important for reducing stress and maintaining recovery. Even though it might seem difficult, with increased work hours or reduced budget for travel or social activities, finding ways to stay social and connected to a supportive network is vital.
Make sure you have someone you can talk to when things get too overwhelming – maybe a sponsor, a friend or loved one, or you can call our Recovery Helpline and speak to one of our Recovery Volunteers about receiving support. You really are not alone!
If you’re in Brighton and looking to connect with a great group of people and have some free fun, why not join our team setting up our new Recovery Hub? With gardening and painting parties every Saturday in September, we’d love you to join us.
3. Stay active and get outdoors
Physical activity is a vital part of maintaining good mental health, and cutting back on gym memberships shouldn’t mean sacrificing the benefits of exercise. Daily walks (or swims if you’re lucky enough to live by the coast), enjoying nature and getting moving are great ways to reduce stress.
Regular exercise reduces stress, improves mood and sleep, and has been shown to increase abstinence rates for substance misuse by up to 95%.
4. Try some money-saving tips
There are plenty of resources online for how to save money and help your income stretch a bit further during this difficult time. Check out resources like MoneySavingExpert’s guide of 90 tips that could help you save, or Blurt’s resource guide for dealing with the cost of living crisis alongside mental health concerns.
5. Practice gratitude and mindfulness
When things feel hopeless and overwhelming, it is easy for us to get stuck in a negative state of mind. Practising gratitude – intentionally recognising the positive things, like another day of sobriety – is an important part of recovery. It is something that doesn’t always come naturally, but truly makes a difference in shifting from the hopeless mindset to one of positivity in the face of difficulties.
“It is with a big, sober, clean heart that I’m eternally grateful to Kennedy Street for their love, help and support. Trust me, these people save lives.”
Employed, cocaine and alcohol addiction.
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