When you are recovering from an addiction, removing yourself physically from the addiction and anything or anyone that contributes to the addiction is only part of the process. There is also plenty of emotional pain in addiction recovery that needs to be dealt with as you work your way to sobriety. It’s a process where you may face many different emotions. This can be scary for many people, but there is hope as you work through these issues.
Facing the History of Your Emotional Pain
Emotional pain is not something that just appears when you decide you want to be sober. Many drug and alcohol addictions are rooted in deep emotional pain. People who become addicted to drugs or alcohol turn to substances to try to get rid of or dull the pain. They soon realize that drugs and alcohol do not erase the pain.
When people decide to enter a recovery program, they must face the demons and pain that lead them to where they are today. This can be a painful process within itself. But, understanding that it is a necessary one will help them fully recover. Short-term pain leads to long-term gain.
The process of reliving or thinking about the pain is short-term; it will not last. But in order to have long-lasting sobriety, you have to sometimes relive the traumas that lead to the addiction. Instead of turning to the addiction, those in recovery have to confront the pain. This can be in the way of screaming, shouting, or even journaling to express the pain. When this process is done, recovery can truly begin.
When you don’t face your emotional pain, you may feel good for the short-term, but cannot fully feel better in the long-term. Ignoring emotional pain is a case of short-term gain, long-term pain. This type of pattern is not helpful when wanting to achieve long-term recovery. It is better to experience the short-term pain of facing your demons and then receiving long-term gain of living a sober life. This can help you grow from the pain which is one step in the recovery process.
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The Emotional Pain of Guilt
Besides facing the pain that is associated with addiction, those in recovery also sometimes deal with the pain of guilt. Many feel guilty for the pain they may have caused others during their addiction. In order to ease this feeling, it’s best to try to make amends and move forward. The past is the past. You cannot change the past, but you can change your future. The present and the future is what you can instead be focused on.
The Emotional Pain of Worry
You may wonder how worry can be painful. It can cause emotional pain because it prohibits us from enjoying the moment. It causes stress and anxiety and other emotions that are the opposite of happiness. It zaps your energy and makes you think about scenarios that may not even happen. Once you can stop worrying, you can start looking ahead to the future and be hopeful for what great things await you in your recovery.
The Emotional Pain of Loneliness
When you decide to get help for your addiction, you may be lonely at first because you realize that being sober may mean cutting ties with certain friends or family. These are the friends and family who may still be using drugs or alcohol and who supported your addiction in the past. While this may make you feel lonely at first, over time you will begin to make new friends; friends who support your recovery and healthy lifestyle. Surround yourself with people who love you and will help you recover. You will soon find you are never lonely again!
The Emotional Pain of Shame
Many people in recovery may feel shame for their actions while they were addicted. Overcoming this shame can be painful within itself. It can lead to feelings of low self-esteem and feelings that you are not worthy of anything, including a recovery. That’s why it’s important to seek the help of counselors and therapists who can help you work through these feelings and help you realize that you are worthy of recovery and every other wonderful thing that life has to offer you.
Overcoming Emotional Pain in Addiction in Recovery
When you are on the path of recovery, it’s important to realize all of these emotions can surface. Since everyone’s recovery is different, everyone may not feel the same emotions or feel them in the same way. Whatever emotions you are experiencing, it’s important to deal with them and know that doing so will lead to a better recovery. When you don’t confront whatever is bothering you, you can’t fully recover.
If you are looking to start on your path to recovery and face the emotional pain in addiction recovery, contact the staff at Ocean Hills Recovery by phone or fill out an online form for more information. We can assist you and help get you on the right path to recovery.
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.