Published On: Wed, Aug 1st, 2018

Why Does Recovery Trigger Anxiety?

Many people, while going through addiction recovery, experience a huge amount of anxiety, especially during the first few weeks. This is because the entire structure of their lives has gone through a major upheaval. The result is a strong sense of worry together with a sense of loss for the substance that used to play such a major role in their existence. While you should be reassured that these feelings are completely normal at this stage of your rehab program and they will eventually subside and disappear over time, it’s important to realize that you will need to find new ways to cope with your anxiety as you come through this difficult phase of your treatment.

photo/ Mary Pahlke

The Links Between Substance Abuse Disorders And Anxiety

There have been numerous studies carried out over the years that have shown that addiction and mental illness have a very strong association. Although depression and substance abuse don’t always occur together, having a mental disorder leaves an individual much more at risk of addiction. Conversely, those who have a substance abuse disorder are also at greater risk of experiencing anxiety. This leads to a cycle of self-medication that is ultimately destructive and difficult to escape. Anyone who wants to give up using substances can find that he or she becomes more anxious and depressed when he or she quits because the person is no longer able to control those emotions.

The Problems With Self-Medication For Anxiety

One of the clear issues with using substances as a form of self-medication is drugs or alcohol introduce a lot more problems in your life. While substances may help to control the anxiety to a certain extent, they will also introduce many more issues that induce further anxiety into your life in relationships at home, at work or at school. You need to consume your substance of choice in increasing amounts just to be able to cope with your emotional instability.

Preparing For Anxiety

If you’re already suffering from anxiety, it’s important to be prepared for further anxiety during the period of early recovery. Just knowing there is a chance of you experiencing greater anxiety at this time will help you to cope more effectively. Even if you have never suffered from anxiety disorders before, there’s a good chance you will experience extra worry during the early stages of recovery. It stands to reason that, after using addiction as a way to cope with uncomfortable or painful emotions, not being able to rely on this crutch any longer is sure to result in distress.

Early Sobriety And Stress

It’s important to realize there’s nothing wrong if you feel anxious during the early recovery period. Anyone who is trying to change something in his or her life is sure to feel some anxiety. Just remember how it felt on your first day in a new job, school or neighborhood. Experiencing stress and anxiety is completely normal for anyone in this position. However, it’s fair to say that recovery is certainly a lot more complex than any of those situations. You not only have to make a change to your usual routines and friendship groups, but you also need to carry out a re-evaluation of your life, your coping mechanisms, and how you spend your downtime. Changing your life in such an all-encompassing way is never going to be easy and stress-free.

How To Cope With Anxiety In Early Recovery

If you’re experiencing anxiety during early recovery, there are three strategies you should employ to help keep it at bay.

  • Find new and constructive ways of occupying yourself – You’ll have more time to yourself during early recovery. When you were in the grip of addiction, you spent most of your downtime using. So, now boredom is inevitable since your substance of choice is no longer in your life. You need to come up with a constructive plan to keep busy and occupied, finding healthy activities you enjoy, such as sports, to help you channel your energy.
  • Find support – During the early recovery period, having a strong support network is key. Going to a support group will give you a way of filling your downtime and will also help you to find new and positive friends who are in a good position to help you through the difficult time.
  • Get a mentor – When you become part of a support group, you should have no difficulties in finding a sponsor or mentor during the early recovery period. Find somebody you’re able to trust, who has been through anxiety himself or herself, and can offer you helpful advice on the best ways to cope.

Find New Strategies For Coping In Sobriety

Getting sober after a substance abuse disorder means you need to find new and constructive strategies to help you cope in the tough times instead of using. The drug rehab center you choose should help you to develop new ways of managing the challenges you face during this difficult time. Their skilled team of substance abuse rehab counselors and physicians will be on hand to guide you through the process of recovery. Their goal is to help you to learn how to cope with your problems in healthier ways. While anxiety is a feature of the early recovery period, the best addiction treatment centers also know how best to help you get through the recovery process.

Author: Al Bottner

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