Staying Strong Through Addiction Recovery
In the midst of addiction and the days leading up to the final days before rehab, there aren’t many addicts that give a lot of thought of what life’s going to be like afterwards. At the beginning the hardest part is actually staying sober. And then the suffering of physical and psychological withdrawal slowly starts to fade leaving recovering addicts facing a foreign world where raw emotions lay wide open…with nothing to alleviate their pain.
Addiction recovery is an extremely fragile place for the former addict to find themselves and the first few weeks after rehab can be really, really hard. In order to make it through the recovery process after rehab ends someone must cultivate deep inner strength. If not, relapse is a very real possibility and is a reality 40-60 percent of recovering addicts face.
Recovery is not a fun place to be and can be accompanied by extreme episodes of depression, regret, humiliation and shame. Finding strength through the process is vital however if someone really wants to stay clean and sober. Facing life sober, especially in the first few weeks after recovery, is not an easy task. Staying strong through the manic lows though, can make a life of recovery turn into a life of sobriety. And in this, possibilities are endless.
Negative Emotions in Addiction Recovery
Recovery can become a very dark place and the negative emotions that accompany this precarious place of addiction treatment can cause extreme suffering. Anyone who’s been in recovery knows that the lows of the emotional rollercoaster they ride can be very, very low.
Think about it. An addict has spent years covering up their emotions with drugs or alcohol. Facing what they spent a significant part of their existence trying to avoid can be more than uncomfortable. It can become encompassing. When you can’t escape the emotions you’re used to covering up, the world can suddenly feel tremendously overbearing.
Fear is huge in recovery not only for an uncertain future, but is also found in the worry about relapse and what will happen. So encompassing can fear become that many recovering addicts develop irrational fears that can go on for years if left untreated. The only thing to fear though really is fear itself. Understanding that the fears they face are all a product of the thoughts in their minds is something that can help to guide addicts out of a place of fear and into courage in their new reality.
Loneliness is another exceptionally raw emotion that is unfortunately a huge part of the recovery process. Becoming sober usually entails leaving old “friends” and familiar places behind. Life tends to take on a much more isolated existence when you let go of the people you’re accustom to partying with. Many addicts find they’ve destroyed former positive relationships and that their lives are but a shadow of what they were before. Relapse can make recovering addicts feel deeply a desolate existence, one that at times can makes it seem much like one worth living.
Boredom is another thing many recovering addicts are faced with more than they’d like to admit. Doing drugs and drinking makes everything seem a lot more interesting to an addict. Without using life can seriously seem dull and altogether uninspiring. Many recovering addicts find it really, really difficult to function in a sober world and boredom can, at times, become exceedingly overwhelming.
These are just a handful of the negative emotions experienced by the recovering addict. And they can all lead to seriously detrimental thoughts. This is where it’s really important to find that inner strength that is a vital part of addiction recovery. Without it many find themselves lost on the road to recovery and all too susceptible to relapse….or worse.
5 Tips for Staying Strong in Recovery
1. Find Support
Seeking support is crucial in the recovery process. Whether it’s in a group or through individual counseling it’s really important to have a support network of people who understand what you’re going through. If you’ve got friends or family who support you awesome, but you still might want to seek support from people who are going through or have gone through the recovery process. There is definitely strength in numbers and seeking support should be something that’s embraced.
2. Get in Some Exercise
Not only does exercise get someone in recovery up and doing something, but is amazing for helping to cultivate both physical and mental strength. Just 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 days a week can be tremendously beneficial to the recovering addict. Exercise not only offers more bodily strength, but is also responsible for releasing positive endorphins in the brain that make one feel a heightened sense of mental wellbeing.
3. Try New Things
To overcome the boredom that is a huge part of recovery it’s really important to get out and try new things. While some days this may seem next to impossible, gathering the inner strength to get up and out will only encourage more inner strength. Even if it’s just going to the corner coffee shop or visiting a local gallery, trying new things will help encourage new ways of living in an unfamiliar world.
4. Find Purpose
Having purpose after recovery is huge. Without it many find themselves lost in a new reality that doesn’t seem at all inviting. What are some of the things you’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t because of fear or because you were held back by your addiction? The two go hand in hand and facing these fears will help open up a world of possibility that once seemed altogether unattainable. If you’ve always wanted to paint, by all means paint! If you’ve dreamed of going back to school and finishing your degree start to take the steps to make it happen. Finding a purpose for life will spark an inner strength you never knew existed.
5. Repair Relationships
Facing the relationships that have been damaged due to addiction can be one of the hardest things to handle for the recovering addict. It’s not uncommon for an addict to hurt the people he or she loves, and many times former friends and family want nothing to do with them. Even if these relationships are damaged beyond repair, finding the strength to apologize for the hurtful things you’ve said or done will instill a strength within that keeps you going throughout the recovery process. This is something that can provoke excessive anxiety, but when confronted can lift the heavy emotions of guilt, shame and regret.
Staying strong through addiction recovery can be done and is absolutely fundamental if you wish for lasting success in a life that is addiction free. Acknowledge your weaknesses, but find the strength inside to refuse to stay victim to them. It’s not going to be easy, but you can be assured that it’s going to be worth it. Live strong through the recovery process and know that even the weakest moments of recovery are better than any day that was ever spent as an addict.