Successfully completing a stint in drug rehab and reentering society as a newly sober person doesn’t mean your cured. In fact, being an addict is a lifelong struggle and it means you’ll never be cured and you’ll always have to work at maintaining your sobriety. Early recovery, in particular, has specific obstacles that make your new status as a non-drug user much more challenging than you may have anticipated. Not only will you face cravings and triggers that make it hard to cope, but you’ll also have to make changes to your social circle to avoid such triggers. You’ll face complicated emotions frequently, and if you were using drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with feelings like anxiety or a lack of self-worth, you’ll need to find a new outlet for them.
One challenge many recovering addicts must work to avoid day by day or even hour by hour is the temptation to use again. Some of the potential threats to your recovery include facing cravings, dealing with anxiety, and seeing your old friends who are still actively using. You’ll need to fall back on what you learned in rehab about modifying unhealthy coping strategies and developing a better, more supportive social network that keeps you sober rather than tempting you to use again.
3 Common Negative Emotions People Face in Early Recovery
You may be wondering how you can fill all those hours of the day with worthwhile activities once you’re out of rehab. The feeling of idleness can be a temptation to use to add some “fun” to your waking hours. Boredom is a significant trigger to relapse and you must take proactive steps to find ways to better yourself, whether by going back to school, pursuing a new career, or finding new hobbies, social outlets, and interests to fill your time.
Early sobriety is hard because you are likely worried about what you’ll do with your new life. If you’re low on personal finance resources, it only adds to your stress and makes it all the more tempting to start using again. Dealing with anxiety is a big challenge in early recovery, especially when you used to turn to your substance of choice in an attempt to skip over your anxiety or other feelings you didn’t want to deal with. It’s important to remember, though, that the highs you felt from using did not eliminate your negative feelings.
Starting over again can be isolating. You have likely already learned you shouldn’t be spending time with your old friends if they continue to drink and use drugs, but this loneliness can feed into the two previously named emotions of boredom and anxiety. The best way to deal with it is to reach out for help and friendship in your newly established sober community. These could be people who attended rehab with you or are in a 12-step group with you who can relate to what you’ve been through and share your dedication to recovery.
What Can I Do if I Relapse in Early Recovery?
It’s important to know that even if you do relapse, it doesn’t mean you’ve wasted the time, money, and effort it took to get sober in the first place. It also doesn’t mean that by falling off the wagon once that you’ve failed permanently and you might as well continue using. The important thing to do is minimize the harm the relapse has caused and fall back on what you’ve learned in rehab as soon as possible.
If you’re interested in recovering from drug and substance use and creating a new life where you feel more at ease and less compelled to use drugs and alcohol to get through the day, turn to Mount Sinai Wellness Center. Our drug and rehab program can equip you will the life skills and teach you effective coping strategies to stay sober. Contact us at (800) 353-4673 today to learn more.