The first days and weeks of sobriety and recovery come with many struggles and difficulties. Just getting through the physical fight for some of us is a real battle. If we have gone through a detox, the illnesses and emotional strains can wear us out. But as we emerge from these first steps and begin to feel healthy, we face other difficulties that we need to learn to negotiate. These are some of the major struggles we face in early sobriety.
Being Around Others Who Still Use
Once we return to our homes, workplaces, and communities, it is inevitable that we will run into people who are still using drugs and alcohol. In some cases this may be our own family members. Having these temptations before us can seem impossible. But the fact is, we need to learn to manage these situations. It is a part of recovery. People will still drink and we may find ourselves around them. If you have friends who insist on offering you alcohol or drugs, you will need to get away from them. You need to ask if those are real friends in the first place. This issue is really a great thing to bring to a sober support group. Having phone numbers of people who can support you in moments like these can be just the thing to get you through it.
Anger, Sadness, and Irritability
These are clichés in some recovery circles, but they are real issues to watch out for. Especially in early recovery we need to be vigilant about not letting these sets of emotions take us over. Again, a sober support group can help with these things. If you have access to a counselor, these are emotional issues to bring up. That we will feel these things from time to time is a given. They are parts of being human. The key is to stop them from taking over.
Joy and Happiness
This may seem unlikely, but it is good to remember that one of the reasons many of us drank and used drugs was to celebrate. Moments of real joy and happiness can operate as triggers. Be careful about these things. You should celebrate happy times, but you should bring any and all lessons learned in emotional management with you to these celebrations.
Guilt and Shame
When we were drinking and using, we all did things we are not proud of. One of the things that moves many of us to treatment is the desire to stop doing things that we are ashamed of. But now that we are recovering it is crucial to not get bogged down in shame. It is a wasteful set of emotions and all it does is drive more shame. As sober and recovering people, we now have the opportunity to address things that we may have done wrong, that would produce shame and guilt In progressing through a program of recovery, you will have the chance to right many wrongs. Avoid shame and guilt. Remind yourself (frequently!) that you are doing everything necessary to not only address past transgressions, but also to ensure that you will not do these things anymore.
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