The Reality of Addiction Recovery: What to Expect
Perhaps you or a loved one has just begun pursuing the addiction recovery process. This is a courageous decision. Choosing the path of recovery is not easy, but it is well worth the challenges that may lie ahead.
While everyone’s experience in addiction recovery is unique, many people face some common obstacles on this journey. There are also plenty of positive developments as well. Knowing some peaks and valleys to expect along the way can make the process a bit easier.
Whether you are personally going through addiction recovery process, or you want to support a loved one who is in the midst of this process, let’s explore the reality of addiction recovery, both the struggles and the positives.
Withdrawal or Post-Acute Withdrawal
Initially, someone in addiction recovery will experience withdrawal symptoms. The exact symptoms will depend on the substance being given up. These symptoms can be quite severe and highly discouraging.
During this time, it’s important to stay in touch with your healthcare providers and any mental health professionals or support groups you are working with. They can help you manage your symptoms in a healthy way and encourage you to continue with the recovery process. It s highly recommended not to do this alone, since with certain substances quitting ”cold turkey” can be life threatening.
Depression and Anxiety
Many people struggle with substance use because they suffer from anxiety, depression, trauma or another mental health concerns. But when someone gives up a substance they have been using to feel temporarily better, their symptoms of depression, anxiety or PTSD can return.
Some people may expect to feel happier after giving up the substance they were relying on, yet when they experience these symptoms again, it can be frustrating. Developing coping skills during this period is essential. Having a support system and asking for help is a very imperative part of the process.
When someone goes through the addiction recovery process, their relationships with their loved ones will inevitably change. Once they walk away from the substance they were using before, they might lose friends who they used to spend time with, especially if the relationship revolved around a mutual addictions. The process can be a bit lonely in the beginning and that is why getting a support system is important. Joining an AA/NA/CA group, SMART Recovery, Celebrate recovery or any other support group can be helpful.
They might choose to reach out and apologize to people who were part of their life while they were dealing with their addiction. The 12 steps process of AA/NA with a sponsor can be challenging but very helpful, especially with the support of a mental health professional.
While some relationships may be lost during recovery, relationships can also be gained. If you’re in recovery, you may be able to rekindle old relationships and strengthen your bonds with loved ones who are supporting you.
Anyone who enters recovery is aware of the possibility that they might relapse in the future. But by identifying potential triggers that could cause you to relapse, you can avoid these situations.
Throughout your recovery, you will think about the situations, people, and places that may cause you to relapse if you encounter them. And avoiding these triggers will probably involve changes to your lifestyle and routines.
It can be hard to let go of your old routines. But early on, identifying and avoiding potential triggers is very important.
Discovering who you are beyond your troubles with addiction is the foundation of the recovery process. You may have a conception of yourself that you are ready to let go of. If your self-image was colored by your addiction, this is a chance to find out who you truly are. Most of the time addiction is not the problem, it is the solution to a deeper issue or a problem. Know that you do not have to live this way and you can break the cycle of addiction.
It isn’t always a smooth or easy process, and you will have days when you question your values, your goals, and your interests. You might have to rebuild many aspects of your life during recovery. And while this can be daunting, it can also be exciting. You never know where your life will take you, mostly to a better place either way. Remembering to be compassionate and forgiving toward yourself is important during this process. Even if you had a small relapse, you could get through it. Relapse is part of recovery!
Do you need support through addiction recovery? Talking to a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.