“Twelve and a half years ago I was in active addiction . . . and eventually I ended up in a hospital for mental health. I am now 7 1/2 years clean and sober. For anyone who wakes up thinking ‘oh god not again,’ I promise you there’s a way,” tweets Stranger Things actor Jamie Campbell Bower.

His story of addiction recovery and mental health is one that resonates far and wide. Addiction affects about 22 million Americans. What most people don’t realize is the chances for healing are excellent.

It is not always easy, or fast, but it is most certainly possible.

Mental health and addiction recovery

Mental illnesses and addiction tend to go hand in hand. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that substance abuse disorders and mental health issues share common risk factors such as genetics and early exposure to stress or trauma. In particular, those who live through trauma often feel fear, helplessness and horror and seek addictive substances to deal with emotional pain.

Just as mental illness can contribute to addiction, chronic use of drugs or alcohol can cause changes in the brain leading to depression, anxiety, paranoia and other problems.

Before, during and after addiction recovery it is normal to feel anxiety, depression and fear. What’s important to know is that support is available and there are proven methods to manage feelings and issues.

Here are four actions that can help:

  • Set up a daily routine – Having structure and activities increases self-esteem and confidence and reduces anxiety.
  • Volunteer – Focusing on others’ needs delivers unanticipated benefits of self-satisfaction and energy, lowering depression and fear.
  • Make music a part of daily life – The power of music for healing is well documented. It can help you connect to your feelings and learn more about yourself. Upbeat songs can release feel-good energy and classical or spa-like music can improve focus and create a sense of calm. 
  • Do something new and prioritize fun – Participating in healthy activities can help prevent relapse. Fill the time spent using drugs or alcohol with activities you used to enjoy or try new hobbies you’ve always thought about. In doing so, you might tap a new source of creativity and wonder, gain satisfaction and self-esteem and build a network of healthy friends.

September is Recovery Month—a time to “celebrate the gains made by those in recovery from substance use and mental health, just as we celebrate improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions,” writes Faces and Voices of Recovery.

While the media focuses on overdose statistics, this reporting obscures one key fact: three out of four people eventually recover from their addiction. It’s just a matter of time.

“Remember, we are all works in progress.”

– Jamie Campbell Bower