Although it can be cathartic to finally quit an addiction, for most people in recovery there will be plenty of emotional ups and downs especially in the first few months of entering rehab. Addiction recovery is a very difficult but rewarding path for people who have spent years of their lives coping with alcohol or drug dependency.
While detox can rid the body of a physical addiction, mental or psychological addiction is something that patients in rehab must continue to deal with for a long time. They also must learn to readjust and handle natural emotions without escaping or creating artificial happiness through substance abuse.
Addicts have usually been shut off from their real emotions for a long time so the first few months of recovery can feel like a rollercoaster of feelings that can be hard to navigate. With the help of a support network and experienced counselors, people in recovery can learn to handle their emotions without the aid of drug or alcohol use.
The Ups and Downs of Recovery
Early recovery is extremely emotional for most people as they go through the first few months of finally being sober without the crutch of substance abuse. People in recovery might cry easily or often with unpredictable and overwhelming surges of emotions at certain moments.
They could feel motivated and positive one day and anxious or depressed the next. Recovery is a long process of catharsis and decompression emotions or problems that have been building up without release for many years.
Addiction can involve a lot of shame, guilt, denial, withdrawal, hiding and dishonesty. Mentally people in recovery must begin the process of clearing out all this built up emotional debris.
Most of these emotions must be dealt with head on and there is nothing that can really take away the pain except the healing process of time. Counselors and therapists can help people in recovery better understand their most powerful emotions and how to handle them when they come up at any given moment.
Therapy and Counseling for Emotional Stress
While in recovery, one of the key elements of learning to deal with emotions is attending group and individual therapy. Without the advice and guidance of professionals, addicts can get lost and overwhelmed by the feelings that they don't know how to cope with as a sober person.
Group therapy is a way to connect with others, share your emotions with a group and often hear how other people are going through the same exact feelings. Individual therapy is a chance to finally talk with a professional about your childhood or your relationships with others and the way that those things may have affected you emotionally.
A person in recovery can use therapy as a way to examine their unhealthy behaviors or dysfunctional relationships and figure out how to resolve these issues in the best way possible. Making adjustments in personal relationships can help end some of the emotional turmoil that addicts go through and relieve them of any guilt or shame for things they have done in the past.
Addicts in recovery can sometimes have trouble accepting negative emotions as a natural part of life. While addicted, they might have tried to escape any negative feelings by drinking or using drugs to "numb" the pain and run away from emotions.
In rehab, people can learn how to accept their sadness or pain and deal with it in a healthy way. They are given skills to cope with emotions as they speak with peers and therapists who provide support throughout each difficult moment.
Recovery means clearing out old emotions and learning to handle new feelings with a different perspective.