Recovery is a difficult but life-saving process of learning how to live without using a drug to which you have become addicted. For a whole host of interconnected physical and psychological reasons, you have come to a place where you want to fight against those strong cravings, and break the habits of using.
Early recovery, or the beginning of this process is often the hardest stage. Here are some challenges you may face; along with ways to deal with them so you can make it through.
Being around users, or feeling bored or lonely as you give up your old life
You have made a decision to change your life, one that other people may not appreciate. Sights, sounds, and smells you associate with your old life can trigger your drug cravings, and your old relationships can, intentionally or unintentionally, put pressure on you to resume using.
At the same time, it is not enough merely to separate yourself from your old life. Focusing so much energy on avoiding your old habits of using can leave a lot of open space in your life.
Simply spending all your time alone might bring on feelings of boredom and loneliness. Also, being without supportive, empathetic relationships can make even small struggles feel big and overwhelming.
To deal with the pull drugs had on your old life, you may need to radically transform your lifestyle and social circles. Remove all drugs and alcohol from your home, and ask everyone you know to respect your decision.
You may have to let go of old relationships formed around your addiction, and meet with a support group or pick up new activities to make supportive, sober friendships.
Heavy drug use over a long period of time radically readjusted your body's functioning. What at first made you less healthy has now become something your body has become used to, and may be unable to function without.
This is why just going "cold turkey" at quitting a substance is so difficult. Without the drug to which your body has developed dependence, you may become sick, feel very irritated or anxious, and sometimes even go into dangerous states of shock.
These withdraw symptoms may seem too strong to bear, but the good news is they don't last forever. Take time off to rest, and talk to a health care professional or detox center about medications that can relieve symptoms for going off your particular drug of choice.
Once the symptoms have passed, you have the opportunity to truly care for your body like never before. Develop new habits that are beneficial for your health, including a regular sleep schedule, and exercise.
Strong emotions, both negative and positive
Long-term drug abuse damages the brain, suppressing your ability to feel pleasure from anything but the drug itself. As a result, people in recovery often feel a lot of strong emotions, of anger, sadness, or irritability.
Even small annoyances can bring on really strong feelings that can sometimes feel overwhelming. Many people who are addicted were in fact self medicating a mood disorder like depression or anxiety.
As you take the drugs away, these troubling feelings are no longer repressed, and must be dealt with directly. Positive emotions, or the feelings that good things are happening in your life can also be a disruption that can bring on a lot of stress, or tempt you to relapse as a "celebration."
Over a long period of time, you can learn how to regain some predictability and control over your emotions. Sharing your thoughts, feelings and struggles in therapy or with a support group can be a powerful way to sort through your feelings.
Practicing meditation can be an important way to build a sense of mindfulness, or awareness of what you are doing in the present moment. You also can get creative and search for ways to relax, relieve tension, and enjoy life.
Some people turn to exercise, journaling, sports, or creating art as ways to sort through feelings and enjoy their newly sober life.