You’ve made it through the initial detox and treatment center! Congratulations! You are now on your own in a new-to-you world of sobriety!
As exciting as this may be, it can also be scary and anxiety-inducing. You’re actually likely to experience a number of problems on your path, but don’t worry.
A list of problems in early recovery isn’t helpful, so there are also solutions offered. Keep reading for issues to be aware of, and ways of maintaining sobriety in spite of them!
Pause and PAWS
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is basically the medical term for your mind learning to deal with life on life’s terms while sober.
While PAWS may not make you feel bad physically, you will likely experience psychological symptoms. These will affect your sleep cycles, stress response, and your moods.
It’s important to remember that while this process can last several months, it won’t be forever. In the meantime, be mindful of the reactions to the people in your life. This means that when you feel yourself starting to get aggravated, pause to figure out why.
Often, once you realize why you’re feeling the way you are, the aggravation, anger, or other negative emotion will subside.
Same People, Places, and Things
If you attend 12-step meetings, you’ll often hear, “change your people, places, and things.” You also might hear someone say that a “geographic change” didn’t work for them.
It’s super confusing at first, but that first phrase is aimed at getting you to find friends you didn’t use with, stop going to places you frequented when you were loaded, and get rid of items that may encourage you to use. This can include something as simple as wine glasses or a bong that was given from a friend’s travels.
The second phrase regarding geographical change is mainly focused on people trying to run from their problems with substances.
Although you may miss your old friends, hangouts, and prized possessions, none of them are doing your recovery any good. It’s time to find new, sober friends and new venues to socialize.
Speaking of Socializing…
Dating within the first year of recovery is not advised. It’s not advised because it doesn’t work and causes people to make choices leading to relapse.
Because of your new found free time, it’s understandable you’ll want something to fill it. That something should be just that–a thing, or a new hobby. You are still learning about your sober self, your likes and dislikes and figuring out your way in the world.
Adding another person complicates things and can lead to cross-addiction and co-dependency.
Boredom and Restlessness
No matter if your style of meeting is 12-step based, church-based, or recovery fellowship, you can always change it up. Try attending a different meeting within your program or branch out to try something different.
Maybe learn a solo hobby that will allow you to meet people with the same pastimes. There are teams, workshops, seminars, or classes that are specialized in whatever piques your interest.
Being restless is a difficult one. Early in recovery, you’re still used to staying up all hours of the night. It can be weird to crawl in bed at a decent time and actually sleep.
This takes time, practices, and the establishment of a routine. If you really have a hard time with it, possibly look at finding a night-shift job. It’ll keep you out of trouble and distract you from what you ‘could be’ doing.
Holidays, Vacations, Special Occasions
Your family might still drink or use and you don’t want to skip these get-togethers completely. Things like Christmas, a trip to the beach, or even a graduation party can cause a lot of anxiety when everyone around you is partaking in your old life.
The best thing to do is bring a sober friend, they can support you when you get comfortable and you won’t be the only one there who isn’t drinking. If that doesn’t work, drive yourself or make sure you have access to a ride home.
Try not to miss these fun moments with your family and friends, but if you’re feeling uncomfortable, leave early. It is also acceptable to opt out of the event entirely.
Happiness & Joy
Being new to recovery can be fun. It can be so much fun and bring you so much joy that you relapse.
You’d be surprised how many newly sober people relapse because they can’t cope with life being good. Promotions, first dates, and new cars are all great things that often happen early in recovery. These things also are stressful, which can trigger you to use.
It’s smart to talk to people in your recovery program and let them help you stay grounded.
Fear of Relapse
This is a very real, and healthy fear. Being afraid to relapse means you know you’re in a better place and you don’t want to return to the old.
However, you can’t let it rule your life. Continue on your path to recovery, work your program, and be thankful for this fear. Also, realize it means that you’re taking things seriously.
Using drugs, your emotions tend to fall by the wayside. You drink or use to cover bad ones up and not have to think about them. You also drink or use excessively when you’re happy.
The substance becomes your coping mechanism and your emotions disappear.
Sobriety brings them back–the good and the bad. While it’s tough to deal with the bad emotions, the good ones are amazing.
During your using and drinking, your family got used to either ignoring or enabling you. You taught them how to not trust you over a long period of time.
This means the relationships will have to be slowly mended and trust rebuilt, over months or years. It can be frustrating, but you’ve gotten help for your illness; they may not have many options on how to cope.
This means patience and tolerance on your part and trusting that things will get better.
Early Recovery is a New Life
No matter how you see it, living life sober is a beautiful thing. You’re able to remember the night before, and not feel like you always have to hide.
You can be proud of yourself and your journey, and staying in sobriety will only allow it to get better.
Early recovery can also be trying, but there is always help available. If you’re ready to face your addiction head-on, contact us, we’ll help get you into and through early recovery!