This article is intended to be used by the general public for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a reference for educational research papers, nor is it a reflection of the services available through our Rehab Program in Thailand.
As we begin our road to recovery, whether it be in treatment or through some other intervention and system of recovery, we often feel a rush of positive feelings in the early stages of sobriety. Start to feel physically better without the constant crush of hangovers and/or withdrawal. Relieved from constantly chasing the substance we needed to feed out addiction. We are just as relieved to be rid of the preoccupation with drugs and alcohol which dominated our thoughts. These are great feelings and they should empower us. However, we need to keep in mind this initial rush of positivity is in some measure illusory. This is not to say that life will become ugly or just as difficult as it was when we were using. I certainly do not want to be discouraging.
The point is that life itself can be difficult and we will soon find ourselves confronted by life without our old crutches of alcohol and drugs.
During our time of using, we became used to shutting off difficulties and troubles with drugs and alcohol. When confronted with a struggle of one type or another, most of us simply anaesthetized ourselves with substances rather than deal with the difficulty or challenge. As a result, the problems remained not only unresolved, most often they got worse. This in turn led us to use even more and by extension make the problems even worse. One of many vicious circles of addiction is this problem of denying real problems and blotting them out with drugs and alcohol. Most or all of these problems will follow us into recovery. The time will come when we are forced to reckon with all of the things we denied and ignored.
This is a dangerous and critical time for a person new to recovery. Those initial good feelings, the so-called “pink cloud” of early recovery, will come head to head with these unresolved problems. The primary danger at this point is that the problems will appear insurmountable and the newly sober person who is already fragile and nowhere near fully sober. Will collapse under this weight and return to drinking and using. This is a real danger.
What we need to remind ourselves is that for many of us, we have never been in a better position to confront these unresolved issues and problems. We have never been on firmer ground on which look the world in the eye and take on these issues.
If we are in a treatment program there are generally forms of assistance to help us through these moments. We will have counseling in place to help us deal with the vast array of emotions which these confrontations will evoke. Rather than shrinking from the problems of life, from the ordinary difficulties of adulthood. We will be able to take these things on directly. Drug and alcohol treatment teaches us coping skills and problem-solving skills. Whereas before, not only did we lack these skills, we did not even allow real-life adult issues to fully arise in our minds. We blotted them out with drugs and alcohol. Now we will be able to work with these challenges in healthy and meaningful ways.
That “pink cloud” is a precarious place to be on the road to recovery. But with the proper treatment and counseling, the early rush of positive feelings can be the strength necessary to learn to deal with life as a sober person.
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