When you’re facing trauma and mental health issues, your brain can sometimes redirect your feelings into unhealthy behaviors. This is somewhat normalized in our culture. How many times have you heard someone say “I could use a drink” after a particularly taxing day? Although it is common, if the problem persists, you could develop destructive behavior patterns. These are common in people in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) because addiction is often a destructive behavior pattern in itself.
What Do Destructive Behavior Patterns Look Like?
Destructive behaviors can take many forms, which can make them hard to spot sometimes. Generally, they are any potentially harmful behaviors that a person uses to cope with or distract from negative feelings. Some examples of destructive behaviors include:
- Risky sexual activities
- Substance use
- Disordered eating (for example, binging)
- Cheating within a committed relationship
- Social isolation
- Sleep deprivation
- Physical abuse of others
Destructive behaviors can also be less noticeable or less harmful. For example, chronically procrastinating can be a destructive behavior pattern and is often seen in people with attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Excessive use of social media is a more and more common destructive behavior. If the behavior is repeated and potentially harmful, it could be a sign of a destructive behavior pattern.
If you notice destructive behaviors in yourself or someone you love, getting professional help may be a necessary step. This is especially true if the behaviors pose an immediate and serious threat to your psychical or mental health. Seeking therapy is a great option in these situations. Laguna Shores Recovery Center offers cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that can address the root cause of your behaviors and offer alternative solutions. As a recovery center, we can also treat any addictive behaviors that may have arisen as a result.
Why Do People Develop Destructive Behavior Patterns?
The cause of destructive behaviors can vary from person to person. Some research suggests that it is often linked to childhood trauma and residual mental health issues. For example, one of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a pattern of unhealthy and harmful behaviors. In the case of trauma, it actually can alter how you view yourself and the world around you. Experiencing such impactful negative events can make you more comfortable with being harmed than you are with being safe. Danger can start to feel familiar, so may actively put yourself in dangerous situations to maintain that familiar environment.
Often, destructive behaviors are actually an attempt at self-protection. That may seem counter-intuitive, but think about it. If you have a big presentation at work tomorrow and it’s making you feel anxious, you might drink alcohol because it “takes the edge off.” Your brain is telling you to protect yourself from the bad feelings of anxiety. The effects of alcohol offer that protection. However, if you start to drink every time you feel anxious, that could lead to substance misuse.
Helping You Overcome Your Destructive Behaviors
As mentioned before, professional help may be needed to break the cycle of destructive behavior. Laguna Shores Recovery Center is committed to helping our clients achieve the lives they want and deserve. That means a life of safety, mental and physical well-being, and healthy coping mechanisms. While we’re primarily an addiction recovery center, we are fully equipped for dual-diagnosis treatments that address mental health issues as well as addictive behaviors.
Therapeutic intervention will likely be part of your treatment plan at Laguna Shores Recovery Center. For combatting destructive behavior patterns, we have three main therapy programs: CBT, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and experiential therapy.
The main difference between the three routes is the approach that they take to cope with negative thought patterns. CBT focuses on overriding negative thoughts and training the brain to look at situations in a more neutral light. This can help with impulsive behaviors that often stem from negative thoughts. DBT focuses on the nature of change and the acceptance of things you cannot control. This can be helpful for people who use destructive behaviors as a way to control their environment or experience. Experiential therapy offers new experiences and activities (such as hiking or gardening) as a pathway to personal development. Those experiences can provide healthier alternatives to destructive behaviors and a physical outlet for negative feelings.
All of these can be part of your addiction recovery treatment plan so that you’re addressing the root cause of your addiction while learning how to stay sober. Maintaining sobriety is often just the first piece of the puzzle to a life of well-being. Learning healthy coping mechanisms and overcoming destructive behaviors can help prevent relapses in the future and keep you on the road to recovery.
At Laguna Shores Recovery Center, our goal is to find what each client needs for their specific issues and goals. Every case is different, so each treatment plan is individualized to best fit the client. We are located just a few miles from Laguna Beach in Orange County, California. If you or someone you know is showing signs of destructive behaviors, don’t wait for it to become a pattern that could really do damage. Consider seeking help from licensed professionals like our knowledgeable staff. We can help you get and stay sober and understand your addiction at the same time, which gives you the best chance at a successful recovery. Give Laguna Shores Recovery Center a call at (866) 774-1532.