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Emotions in Early Recovery

When you first get clean, there are a lot of changes your body and mind go through. After numbing yourself for so long, you might end up dealing with a lot of emotions. Many people start to get in touch with the feelings they were stuffing down with drugs. People who tell stories of their first days clean often talk about how they felt like their emotions were “paper thin” or raw when they first got off drugs. In fact, this is perfectly normal. But just because it’s normal doesn’t mean that it’s not uncomfortable.

Why Do I Feel This Way?

People with a substance use disorder often start out using their substance of choice recreationally (or as a prescription) and move on to abuse it regularly. Addiction is a complex disease. It involves both the body and the mind, and it is progressive. That means that an addicted person will use a drug more and more often, partially because their body needs more of the substance to get the same effect. Over time, a person may use drugs to cover up emotions, such as sadness, anxiety or fear. So it makes sense that once you’ve stopped avoiding these emotions, you may experience them again.

You may find yourself more anxious or grumpy than usual. These feelings should pass as your body detoxing the substances you were using.

A lot of people in recovery let using get in the way of things that were once important, such as family or friends. Some people describe how they missed a funeral, birthday or other life event and they feel a lot of guilt about it. These feelings will pop up from time to time. Let yourself think, but reach out to your network if they’re too much to handle on your own, or go to a meeting.

Coping with Feelings

These feelings are normal, but they will pass. In early recovery, the best thing you can do is hold on, and continue staying clean. Practicing self-care methods, such as reading a book, making a phone call to somebody in your network, or even just taking a short walk.

Detoxing in a treatment environment is a way to make sure you’re not alone with these feelings and teach you how to cope with them positively. Access to support, especially with peers who are going through similar things, can help you get through difficult moments. Never fear reaching out to your support network or a therapist.

Simple self-care activity is essential, too. Taking a long bath, listening to uplifting music, or just taking time to read a book can help you center yourself until your feelings pass.

Getting Help for Addiction

There is help available if you’re struggling with substance abuse. We’ve helped many people start a new path in recovery. The hardest part of starting your journey is picking up the phone. Please do! We’re here to help and can answer any questions you have. Reach out at 1-800-970-8774.

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