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It’s no secret that the earliest stages of recovery can sometimes be the toughest. Once you’ve decided to put the bottle down, you’re forced to face all the emotions and issues that you previously dealt with by “self-medicating” yourself with alcohol and drugs.
Struggling to face these issues head-on, many people end up relapsing in these early phases.
But not you, and not this time. With the right tools in hand, you can overcome the struggles of early recovery. If you’re just starting your recovery, it’s important to know what you’re going to face on the road ahead.
Check out this guide to learn how to overcome the common challenges faced by those in early recovery.
1. Developing New Coping Strategy
It used to be that when you were feeling stressed, angry, hurt, or tired, you could turn to alcohol and drugs to numb the pain.
But, now that alcohol and drugs are no longer an option, you need to develop a new coping strategy. Without new coping strategies in place, you’ll be at a loss as to what to do in times of trouble, and that will just tempt you to relapse.
So, to overcome this issue, one of the very first things you should do in the early stages of recovery is to figure out some coping mechanisms that work or you.
New coping strategies may include speaking with a therapist, attending AA meetings, calling friends or family members for support, exercising, journaling, or doing yoga.
It’s important to understand that everyone has different coping mechanisms that work for them, and it may take some trial and error to figure out which ones work for you. But, once you do, you’ll feel less and less tempted to reach for the bottle each time you’re faced with a stressful situation.
One issue that many addicts are surprised to face in the early stages of recovery is boredom. But, when you consider how much of your time drinking and doing drugs took up, you’ll realize that without it, you now have a lot of free time on your hands.
But, while boredom may not seem like such a big deal, it’s actually a common relapse trigger.
So, to prevent this from happening, you need to find new ways to fill up your time. This can actually be quite exciting, as you’ll likely discover new hobbies and interests that you never even considered before.
We suggest looking into adult education programs in your community and seeing what classes are available. For example, you could sign up for a dance class, an art class, or a language learning class. You should also reach out to friends and family members to help you fill your time. For example, you could have a standing dinner date with a group of friends one night per week.
Another good way to fill your time is through volunteering.
These activities not only help to prevent boredom, but they also help save you from feeling isolated and alone in the early stages of your recovery.
3. Loss of a Social Network
Becoming sober means cutting ties with those who were formerly a negative influence on you and who continue engaging in destructive behavior.
For some people, this may mean cutting out a significant portion of their social network.
Luckily, building a new social network as a recovering addict is not that hard, as there are many other addicts out there who are also looking to rebuild their networks and become friends with people like you.
To find these people, we suggest attending AA meetings and joining addiction support groups. You’ll also likely meet new friends through the new hobbies and activities you try.
Also, chances are, you lost some friends along the way in the throes of your addiction. While it won’t be easy to restore these friendships, as you may have hurt some people very deeply along the way, it’s worth trying to make amends and rebuild your relationships.
4. Fear of Relapse
Many people are nearly paralyzed with the fear of relapse during their early stages of addiction.
But, you should actually see this fear as a good thing, as it shows that you actually take your sobriety seriously. The important thing to keep in mind is that millions of people have managed to achieve long-term sobriety and that you can too.
Focus on taking things one day at a time and to never take your sobriety for granted.
5. Transitioning Out of Rehab and Back Home
Transitioning out of rehab and back into the “real world” can be incredibly daunting or recovering addicts.
Back in the real world, you have to worry not only about staying sober, but about tackling daily responsibilities such as holding down a job, paying your rent, paying your bills, and keeping your appointments and commitments.
If you’re really worried about making this transition, one of the best things to do is to enter a transitional living program. These programs allow you to live in a setting where you focus on your recovery as you slowly transition into the outside world.
Dating can be incredibly tough for those in the early stages of addiction. Where you once had alcohol as a crutch to get you through dates, you now only have yourself.
We suggest that addicts take things slow when entering the dating world. You should also make sure that your recovery stays your number one priority in these early stages and that dating comes second.
When you go on dates, focus on activities you can do that don’t involve drinking, such as going to a movie, mini-golfing, or going for coffee. Also, don’t feel like you have to open up to every person you meet about your sobriety. Wait until you trust the person and until the time is right.
7. Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are very common among recovering addicts.
While it’s normal to feel bouts of anxiety and depression in the early stages of recovery, if it’s getting to be too much, you may want to seek additional treatment for it.
You should speak to your doctor to have your mental health properly managed. They can get you on the right medications, and they can help set you up with a therapist.
Are You Ready for Early Recovery?
Now that you know about the biggest challenges that come with early recovery, it’s time to face them head-on.
Also, if you’re still in search of an addiction treatment center, contact us today.