Dealing with Uncertainty in Recovery
Although it can be difficult to deal with at times, uncertainty is a part of the human experience. We have all found ourselves in times where we have been faced with uncertainty.
Not knowing what to expect can trigger a wide range of complicated emotions. Feeling uncertain can trigger the body’s fight or flight response, which can lead to impulsive behaviors1. Decisions made impulsively are generally made based on feelings and can cause an individual to misjudge a situation. Any overwhelming feelings of uncertainty can result in an individual responding impulsively through using unhealthy coping mechanisms, including drugs and alcohol.
Learning skills for dealing with uncertainty in recovery and building uncertainty tolerance is a great first step to preventing relapse and living a more peaceful and fulfilling life.
12-Steps and Recovery
In the 12 Step Recovery Program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), individuals in treatment recognize that uncertainty and lack of control – powerlessness – are identified as obstacles that one must overcome to reach sobriety2. Recognizing that there are things that cannot be controlled and eliminating uncertainty is impossible empowers those in recovery to identify the aspects of life that can be controlled.
In this way, it is important to make conscious decisions to let go of things that cannot be controlled and embrace the things that can3. Additionally, it is essential to realize that change and uncertainty are a normal part of life and expected.
Uncertainty in Recovery
Having strategies for dealing with uncertainty is important. Otherwise, uncertainty can cause debilitating dilemmas and interrupt the addiction recovery process.
If an individual recognizes that fear of the unknown prevents them from enjoying the present moment, they can start by practicing little things every day to learn to tolerate uncertainty. One key to addressing uncertainty in treatment for those who have struggled with sobriety before includes providing those individuals with constant reassurance4.
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Regardless of how many times one attends, each time in treatment provides the person seeking recovery with an opportunity to learn and grow and continue to find things that will benefit their recovery journey.
Strategies to Address Uncertainty in Recovery
Unemployment, financial concerns, health worries, stress, anxiety, and social isolation are all uncertainties that can often lead to relapse if not properly addressed. It is critical to make conscious decisions in your daily life to let go of things you can’t control. Also, take time to embrace the things you can.
In times of uncertainty, it can help some to take comfort in daily activities and routines that keep them present and focused on the positive things in their life. An individual can reduce the risk of relapse by exercising effective coping practices and techniques, including the following:
Connect with a Support Group
Staying connected with family and friends can be very beneficial when facing difficulties in maintaining sobriety. Additionally, groups with peers who are experiencing similar situations can end up providing mutual support.
Start a Routine
Creating a daily routine to instill a sense of control to keep that individual positive and motivated.
Maintain Proper Health and Nutrition and Exercise
Eating healthy foods can improve energy and mood. Exercise is the most effective method of stress and anxiety relief.
Stay busy to prevent relapse with new tasks and hobbies. Remember to be aware that you aren’t staying busy to numb emotions.
Identify Your Triggers
Identify triggers for your behavior. Changing responses to those triggers can avoid self-medicating through drug or alcohol use.
Enroll in a Recovery Treatment Program
Support groups, family therapy, outpatient rehab, inpatient programs, and other recovery programs can help you avoid substance use and build coping skills for addiction1.
Treatment Recovery in Times of Uncertainty
At Ocean Hills Recovery, our professionals prioritize making sure the uncertainty that can exist during recovery does not lead to relapse. Ocean Hills Recovery is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center aimed at addressing effective treatment areas and so much more. At Ocean Hills, specialists aim to provide each individual with the tools and resources to acquire long-lasting rehabilitation. Programs offered at Ocean Hills include:
- Detox Services;
- Drug Treatment Programs;
- Alcohol Treatment Programs;
- Inpatient/Resident Treatment;
- 12-Step Recovery;
- Sober Living;
At Oceans Hills Recovery, your freedom from addiction begins here. Contact us today to get started.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.