Early Recovery Can Be Hard

Early recovery is the beginning stages of the recovery process. Typically lasting at least through the first 90 days, early recovery is an emotional challenge as addicts navigate life without drugs or alcohol. Although everyone’s early recovery experience is unique, for most this readjustment period allows people to restart their lives, building a better, healthier and sober way of living.

Early recovery can feel like an emotional rollercoaster with all the ups and downs that can arise. This is not surprising for people that have felt numb for so long and can be extremely difficult on a day to day basis. That’s why emotional sobriety is also a key factor in early recovery. What is the definition of emotional sobriety? Emotional sobriety is the ability to cope with the many emotions that come with physical sobriety. It means being able to handle your feelings head on in a positive and productive way. Many addicts have a difficult time acknowledging and understanding how they feel, turning to alcohol and drugs instead. Emotional sobriety helps people stay in recovery no matter the circumstance.

If you or a loved one are experiencing anything like this, don’t worry, it is normal and there is hope. Here are some of the causes and some tips that help us get through these times. We hope you find this as beneficial as we do.

Early Recovery Can Be Hard

Some examples of emotions in early recovery that may come up are:

  • shame and guilt over past actions
  • anger over the past, or fear over the future
  • remorse or self-hatred, resentment towards yourself or others

Usually these come up as a result of having to face our past, while being present for our current emotional state after a history of numbing emotion. Physical detox also plays a major role in these emotions early in recovery.

Can quitting alcohol or drugs lead to depression? The withdrawal symptoms that are associated with detox can lead to some depression and anxiety-like symptoms. However, these are temporary and ease as the detox and recovery process continues.

On the flip side, some emotions that can emerge might be over excitement, over confidence, feeling “high on life” and sobriety.

Being Led By Emotions

This (being led by emotions) is dangerous for recovery for multiple reasons. If you feel poorly all the time and don’t take any action to better your mental and spiritual state, temptation may arise and you may not have a defense against the first dose or drink. On the other hand, over confidence and positive feelings can be a way to avoid reality or facing your past. It can also cause you to be much less motivated to take the actions to maintain your recovery. For instance, it’s extremely easy to avoid meditation, going to meetings, calling a sponsor, prayer, working with a therapist and making a daily honest self-appraisal when everything feels fine and dandy. Relapse can creep up on you. A lot of times people don’t see it coming and relapse during a time when they “feel like everything is going really well”.

The truth is being an addict is hard and it’s difficult to get sober. Many sober men and women I have interviewed say the same thing in regard to this…” getting sober is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and not a day goes by that I regret getting sober” seems to be the general consensus.

Some Tips To Help You Get There:

Find a therapist : This is a big help in continuing to grow and learn how to deal with your emotions.  There are some other great tips about developing a network and a happy lifestyle here in another article we wrote.  This can help in discovering specific emotional difficulties and developing coping mechanisms to deal with situations that can and most likely will arise.

Be gentle with yourself: This is so hard for us as addicts, but utterly important.  To this day, I constantly remind myself that I am a work in progress and a human that has flaws and will make mistakes.  My mantra is “Rome was not built in a day” and “I had to crawl before I could walk, and I had to walk before I could run”.  Affirmations can help.  I have found the most comfort in being open with my support network about the things that are going on with me.  They can offer much needed connection and feedback that is unbiased if I have a healthy A-Team.

Practice mindfulness: Another thing that myself and most of the addicted people I have worked with suffer with is honest self-appraisal.  It’s very easy to fall into negative thinking patterns and not even realize it is happening until it is too late.  Taking a daily time to reflect on how things are going will change your life.  Once you identify issues you can begin to work on them and get better.

Be Playful: This suggestion may seem silly, and well…that is because it is.  Go do something fun with people.  Go shoot pool, go bowling, go for a hike, go camping, go swimming, go to an amusement park.  This might seem like a strange thing to be reading in this article and that’s not far from the truth…just try it and you can thank us later.

What are the Stages of Recovery from Addiction?

There are many stages of recovery from addiction and every individual works through them at their own pace. Because everyone’s recovery journey is unique, there is no telling how long it may take a person to work through the many phases. Early recovery involves many of the beginning stages and is the most difficult part of the process for many. Typically the stages include pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance and termination. People tend to believe that they do not need to change their lifestyle, then begin to realize a change is necessary, and finally set an intent to find information and resources about recovery. Next, the individual begins to put his or her plans in action and finally maintain this new lifestyle while closing the chapter of addiction in their life.

Contact Us

Pathfinders Recovery Center
Scottsdale, AZ
(855) 728-4363

*This blog post was authored by Lawrence Briggs, Director of Operations at Pathfinders Recovery Center. Ph: 480.320.0752

Please call anytime and speak with one of our founders directly. We answer the phone ourselves any day and anytime. Thank you for reading and until next time, show yourself some love. You deserve it.