Attaining sobriety is one of the hardest things you will do in your life. It goes without saying that you will likely face your fair share of struggles throughout the process. Anyone who has been through addiction recovery can tell you that recovery and struggling can often go hand in hand. Whether you are struggling with past trauma or maintaining new and healthy habits, it is important to remember that you are not alone.
The anxiety that can often accompany addiction recovery can be overwhelming. You may feel misunderstood and think that isolating yourself will be better. Perhaps you think no one could possibly relate to how you are feeling. Rest assured, everything you are experiencing is completely normal and you will get through this difficult time. Let’s review a few reasons why people struggle in recovery, and how you can get past these low points in your addiction recovery journey.
Why Do People Struggle During Addiction Recovery?
You already know that recovering from any type of addiction is hard. Living a happier and healthier life without the chains of addiction sounds easier than it actually is some days. You may be wondering why you find yourself struggling to maintain your sobriety or even why you feel anxious or depressed without your old lifestyle. This is extremely common among those who are going through addiction recovery.
When a person uses drugs or alcohol for extended lengths of time, it alters their brain chemistry. When they stop using that substance, the brain chemistry needs time to adjust. During this time, you may experience periods of highs and lows, depression and anxiety, insomnia, and many other issues.
Additionally, recovery is a time when you are creating a brand new life for yourself. These new habits and ways of life are different from what you were used to. Even though these changes are positive and healthy, our brains very much resist creating new habits. Oftentimes our brain would like to revert back to what it knows – after all, it is much easier and saves the brain a lot of energy. Creating these new habits is tiring for your brain. Without the high chemical reward your former substance use generated for your brain, you may be left feeling less happy and more tired than you would like.
This is a normal and natural part of the recovery process. With time, you will adjust to your new life. It will be difficult at first, but nothing worth doing is ever easy!
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What Should I do if I’m in Recovery and Struggling?
Understanding the reasons behind your struggle in recovery doesn’t make it easier. Relapse is still tempting and your body continues to crave the substances it once used. If you are in recovery and struggling, there are healthy ways to cope.
- First, remember that you are not alone in this. Reach out to your sponsor, therapist, or counselor to help you through.
- Journaling is a great way to relieve anxiety, depression, and can go a long way in helping you through this difficult phase. (1)
- Be kind to yourself. Remember that recovering from addiction is a BIG deal and you should be so proud of yourself. But also remember that it’s an ongoing process. Try not to beat yourself up for struggling. Remind yourself that you haven’t done anything and that you will get past this.
Struggling in addiction recovery is a normal part of the process that everyone experiences. With the help of an experienced and compassionate counselor, you can make it through and continue to enjoy your recovery journey. Contact Ocean Hills Recovery to talk to someone today.
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.