Being new to recovery offers addicts a lot of change that can seem strange and overwhelming. This is a time when the focus is on adjusting to a life without drugs or alcohol. Maintaining a sober lifestyle becomes difficult when you are also trying to cope with life. These early times make an addict susceptible to relapse.
Here are some of the common reasons that addicts struggle with early recovery:
1. Anger and Irritability
The small irritations of life can often trigger intense anger in early recovery. An addict has not had much practice in dealing with emotions while sober. While anger, sadness, impatience and other feelings are all normal, the recovering addict has always self-medicated to deal with them.
The normal reaction to these feelings is for an addict to run and hide instead of cope. The long-term abuse has damaged the parts of the brain which deal with balancing emotions. Instead of looking for unhealthy ways of managing these feelings, it is time to replace them with some good habits.
Many recovering addicts find that attending 12-step meetings is a good way to process and deal with emotion. In addition, you can relieve tension through exercise, meditation, massage and journaling. Each time you walk through an emotion and get to the other side, you’ll see growth in your life that wasn’t there before.
2. Associating with Others Who Use
Once you get out of rehab, you are going to be faced with friends, co-workers and family members that still use drugs and alcohol. To help protect your sobriety, you need to remove all drugs and alcohol from your home. In addition, be sure to ask the others around you to do the same.
It may seem disheartening that you may not be able to keep the same group of friends, especially if they don’t support your sobriety. Now would be a great time to make new friends at 12-step meetings. In addition, you can take up some new hobbies and meet new people that way as well.
It is possible to relapse over happy emotions just as much as with the negative ones. Enjoying the celebratory times of your life can be just as challenging. Getting that raise, celebrating a birthday and other exciting events cause stress in the same way as negative events.
During this time, you need to remember that you are still discovering yourself. Happy and negative emotions can easily trigger the urge to use again. Whenever you are dealing with emotions you aren’t used to coping with, it would be important to discuss them with a support person.
Here is another one of those dreaded emotions you may not know how to cope with. Recovery starts a process of rebuilding your life. When you get rid of the alcohol and drugs, there seems to be a lot of space left over for other things.
Trying to find positive events to fill this time can leave you with feelings of boredom. Revisit some old activities you’ve left behind because of your addiction. You might find that you enjoy them more now that you are sober. In addition, you can join in the many events that are offered by the sober friends at your 12-step meetings.
Many people in early recovery struggle with insomnia. This irritating disorder can cause many addicts to relapse. Find some non-medication approaches to dealing with your sleep issues.
Some of these might include exercise, journaling and starting a calming, bedtime routine. If you continue to struggle with this issue, it would be wise to seek out some professional help from a therapist.
The holidays tend to be a reminder to many recovering addicts of the ways they have failed. It can be easy to run from this pain, but it is much wiser to face it and accept the powerlessness behind your disease.
In addition, holiday parties might be a downfall for you if your family and friends continue to use the event to drink. It could cause you to feel uncomfortable in their presence. If they are not prepared to change their traditions, why not make a few of your own? Start a drug and alcohol-free celebration and invite some of your recovery friends. They will be happy to have an event to attend during the holidays that will be safe for them.
While you were using drugs and alcohol, you did things that you wouldn’t have otherwise done while you were sober. You’ve hurt people; you’ve lied, manipulated and maybe even broken the law.
Once you became sober, you start to acknowledge the damage that you’ve caused. Making amends and rebuilding your relationships is an important part of recovery, but it can also be quite difficult. Oftentimes, there will be shame and guilt as you learn to forgive and accept yourself. This pain can often be too much for early addicts to bear, so they run back to using instead.
A healthier alternative is to take these issues to your support group. Walk through the hurts you’ve caused and talk about the feelings it brings up for you. Then, you can receive the guidance and affirmation that you need to walk out of the shame into a brighter, healthier life.
It is often advisable not to date in early recovery and for good reason. It is possible that you are still trying to figure out who you are without the drugs and alcohol. Adding the pressure of trying to meet someone else’s needs can be very stressful during this time.
Relationships continue to be a major reason people relapse early in recovery. As a person works to get sober, they can easily transfer their addictive natures to another person or even sex. This relationship can then become one based on neediness and codependency rather than love and respect. If anything goes wrong in the relationship, it can become hard to cope without the use of drugs and alcohol.
The rule of not dating doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t form relationships. Healthy relationships with friends are an important part of the recovery process. Isolating and keeping to yourself is destructive. Spend your time rebuilding the relationships with your friends and family. In addition, work on building a strong support system and enjoy some time of learning who you are. Then, there will come a time when you will be ready to start dating again.
9. Job Stress
There is a constant pressure to keep a job and make a living. This causes a good amount of stress to someone who is newly sober. If you have returned to a job that you had during your addiction, you might feel awkward dealing with those people again.
It would be wise to find a career that isn’t overly stressful during this time if at all possible. The additional pressure from work just isn’t needed as you attempt to learn how to live again. Yes, it is important to be financially responsible, but, none of that will matter if you end up using again.
Contact Clearbrook Today
Having minor setbacks is a normal part of the recovery path. There will be times when you are frustrated at the lack of progress. All these struggles and more can be overcome by establishing a solid plan and strong recovering support network. Surround yourself with healthy people and commit yourself to walk through the hard times as well as the good. In no time at all, you will be experiencing the freedom that comes from a sober lifestyle.
If you or someone you know and love is currently struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism, we can help. For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing quality treatment services to the chemically dependent person. If you are ready to take the first step, please contact our Admissions Specialists today.