Our minds are busy places, especially during recovery. The thoughts and feelings just keep coming and coming, and sometimes (maybe even most of the time) it feels as though you are not wholly in control of the flow as it rushes by.
Many of those thoughts and feelings are just the regular stuff of our day-to-day lives. We have to remember the day’s schedule, for example. We might feel a sense of happiness when our first cup of coffee arrives, and we take that first sip. We might have to think through a project at work, might feel a sense of accomplishment when the project is done, and could spend some time thinking about how to build on the day’s success.
But sometimes, thoughts and feelings can be more problematic. In fact, for a person in recovery from a substance use disorder, certain patterns of thought or intense feelings can endanger their effort to maintain sobriety.
Let’s take a look at four states of mind that can put your recovery at risk.
Anger During Recovery
It perhaps goes without saying that anger is a powerful emotion—and sometimes it can be a productive one. For example, a feeling of anger about an injustice can inspire positive action that can make things better.
But many times, anger is far less productive. Among its many effects are increased stress levels, behaviors that are destructive in the moment and embarrassing in retrospect, and broken relationships. And if you feel angry with yourself—perhaps in relation to your substance use disorder and the damage it has caused in your life and the lives of others—the emotion can upend your self-esteem and mental health.
When those sorts of feelings result from anger, a person in recovery is more likely to pick up a drink or return to drug use in an attempt to dull the negative emotions. As a result, it is essential to find ways to manage anger effectively. Mindfulness practice, for example, can help a person reframe anger so that it is not so destructive.
When we have lost someone close to us (or suffered any kind of difficult loss or disappointment), it is only natural and appropriate to grieve. After all, loss is hard; loss of a loved one doubly so.
For a person in recovery, however, grief can lead to increased temptations to drink or use drugs in an effort to find relief from the heavy feelings of sadness they are experiencing. But that, of course, is not the proper path for someone committed to sobriety.
Instead, it can be worthwhile to find a way to honor the person who has been lost via service to others or by supporting a cause important to your loved one.
Perhaps no emotion inspires a “woe is me” response quite as effectively as loneliness. If you feel as though you are isolated from others or that no one values you, it is easy to get down on yourself. And that pity party can lead to problems just as surely as grief or anger can.
The solution may seem obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less essential. The best way to combat loneliness is to make connections. Call a friend. Invite a family member to lunch. Have coffee with someone after your 12-Step (or other recovery program) meeting. Volunteer in the community or sign up for a class or get involved in your faith community’s project and programs.
Any and all of those strategies can help protect your sobriety from the impacts of loneliness.
Boredom is loneliness’s close companion—and when everything about your life feels “ho hum,” it is easy to conclude that drugs or alcohol would inject a little excitement into your day.
That, of course, is not the kind of excitement you need. Instead, you need an absorbing hobby, a group of supportive friends to hang out with, a cause to support, or a project to throw yourself into. When you are busy in a productive way or having a fun and relaxing time, you are far less likely to let boredom best you in your quest to stay sober.
Make Up Your Mind to Get Sober and Seek Recovery
At French Creek Recovery Center near Erie, PA, we know that making up your mind to get the help you need is the essential first step toward regaining and maintaining your sobriety. We also know that can be mighty hard to do.
To encourage you to make that important choice, we want to assure you that we offer evidence-based, personalized, compassionate treatment grounded in our commitment to treat you as an individual worthy of both respect and expert care. When you are ready to get sober, we are ready to help.