What to Expect in the First Stages of Recovery

What to Expect in the Early Stages of Recovery

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According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, addiction is a powerful disease that affects over 20 million people each year in the U.S. alone.1 With over 93,000 overdose deaths reported in 2020, understanding recovery options and treatment services are more critical than ever before to people in all stages of recovery and non-addicts helping loved ones.2

While many treatment programs are available to those suffering from addiction, people don’t always consider some of the struggles that await. Too often, addicts equate recovery with immediate abstinence and “wellness.” This type of thinking can lead to relapse.

Instead, it’s essential to reflect on the many stages of recovery. Knowing what to expect in the early stages of recovery through the last can make the process more manageable. It also increases the chances of success after treatment.

Some of the Challenges Faced in the First Stages of Recovery

Addiction doesn’t just affect the physical body. It’s a disease that can alter the way the brain perceives what it needs to feel satisfied. This can make it challenging to deal with cravings in the early stages of recovery.

Handling Unexpected and Powerful Cravings

Cravings that feel overwhelming are usual within the early stages of recovery. During a person’s active addiction, they feed these cravings quickly. In early recovery, a recovering addict must take a multi-faceted approach to keep cravings at bay.

No, you may not be able to eliminate these cravings, but you will be learning various techniques and strategies to cope. For some, it’s about learning to avoid craving triggers. For others, it’s faithfully practicing behavioral strategies to regulate emotions linked to cravings. Either way, it typically takes more than just willpower to manage.

Managing Strong Emotions

The early stages of addiction recovery are bound to come with some strong and potentially difficult emotions. Sometimes, these emotions are linked to physical distress specific to withdrawal symptoms. Other times, such feelings reveal mental health issues that the individual once covered up with drugs or alcohol.

Common emotions experienced during this phase of recovery include:

  • Stress
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Whether a person is dealing with one or more of these emotions at a time, it will be essential to have a clear and present support team in place to help. Everyone from therapists to family and friends can make a huge impact when life feels overwhelmed with emotions.

Recognizing the Potential for Relationship Issues

Make no mistake that recovery from addiction is a good and positive step forward. However, many who enter recovery don’t always take time to consider that some relationships they’ve established may suffer as a result.

For some in recovery, the early phases of the process reveal a collection of broken relationships they didn’t even realize addiction had caused along the way. Addiction quickly diminishes trust among friends and family as an addict makes finding a fix a priority and often uses deception to avoid being caught.

During active addiction, it’s likely that the addict formed relationships based solely on substance use. When a person decides to enter treatment, those who have supported that person’s dependency or addiction for so long may see it as an act of betrayal.

It’s essential to recognize that throughout the recovery process, some relationships will need to be rebuilt. Others are going to be lost. It’s a time of transition on many levels.

Seeing Beyond the Symptoms of the Initial Stages of Recovery 

There’s nothing easy about early-stage recovery, but the effort is worthwhile. Combating addiction begins with facing hard facts about the disease head-on. From here, those in recovery will only grow stronger, especially with suitable support systems in place.

Above all, it’s a process. Those in recovery are making a long-term commitment to themselves and their health. In the end, getting back a life you love is worth every effort.

Reach Out to Ocean Hills Recovery Today

When you’re ready to start your recovery from addiction, our team at Ocean Hills Recovery is here for you. Our compassionate and professional staff will work with you to create a unique plan for your success and long-term sobriety. We’ll help you build the skills and support systems to improve your chances of beating substance problems for good. 

Reach out today to learn more about our many treatment programs and services.

[1] https://drugabusestatistics.org/
[2] https://www.statnews.com/2021/07/14/us-overdose-deaths-record-2020-pandemic/

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