Emotional stability plays a vital role in successful long-term recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol. At Baystate Recovery Center, we understand the holistic impacts of substance abuse and addiction and do everything we can to counteract these effects. Helping our clients process their emotions in the healthiest ways possible is part of our mission.
Here, we’ll look at some of the hazards associated with dealing with your emotions in addiction recovery and provide tips to ensure that your emotional state isn’t damaging your long-term recovery plan.
Links Between Emotions and Recovery
Many people think that the link between mental/emotional health and substance abuse is limited to cases of co-occurring disorders — when substance abuse disorders and mental health issues occur simultaneously. The truth is that everyone in recovery has to be aware of their emotional state.
First, when your system is free substances, you’re likely to experience more (and stronger) emotions that can be overwhelming at first.
Second, many people who abuse drugs or alcohol do so as a response to negative or powerful emotions. In recovery, you’ll be forced to find different, healthier ways of coping.
Why Might You Be More Emotional During Recovery?
Substance use and abuse dulls your ability to feel everything you’re experiencing in your life. This means that once you get clean, your ability to truly engage with your emotions will return.
In many ways, this is a huge benefit. The ability to feel happy, calm, or content without the artificial assistance of chemicals can be extremely freeing. But it also means that negative emotions, like anger, jealousy, fear, and grief will feel stronger as well.
Developing Positive Coping Mechanisms
In the past, you might have been using drugs and alcohol to cope with negative or particularly strong emotions. Now that you’re sober, the need to replace these with healthier methods of fulfilling your emotional needs.
In the full continuum of care for addiction treatment, one of the things we focus on is identifying triggers and finding healthier ways to respond to them. If you’re someone who commonly used substances to soften negative emotions, a treatment program can help you develop new ways of responding to these persistent feelings.
How to Deal with Stress and Other Strong Emotions in Recovery
There are habits and routines you can develop in recovery that will help you deal with your emotions for the rest of your life. Here are just a few:
- Participating in team sports or exercise as an outlet for negative emotions
- Engaging in mindfulness activities like yoga, meditation, or prayer
- Keep an empathetic support system close by staying involved in a 12-step group or other group therapy
- Rely on professional help to continue to develop your skills of emotional moderation and control
There’s No Shame in Asking for Help
The choices that lead to someone deciding to ask for help when they’re struggling with addictive addiction are extremely brave. If you’re in treatment for a substance use disorder, you’ve already taken huge steps. But, this doesn’t mean you’re done asking for help.
Life in recovery presents new tests and challenges that will inevitably cause you to adjust the way you think and act. As your emotional needs shift, so will the support you require to stay on your path towards lifelong sobriety.
If you or a loved one are struggling to cope with your emotional needs in addiction recovery, contact Baystate Recovery Center today. We have licensed counselors standing by to provide the compassionate support you need.