Early Recovery: “…growing up in public.”

Recovery from active addiction involves much more than simple abstinence from drugs. There is common phrase among addiction professionals and those advocates in the recovery community that addiction is “a feeling disease.” What does that mean? The use of mood and mind altering chemicals is only symptom of the problem. The problem is the lack of coping, managing, and accepting the uncertainty and unpredictability of life which involves a perception of one feeling unbearable emotions. Additionally, the lack of self-acceptance and unreasonable expectations of others provokes self-loathing and self-pity. The converging of the distorted thinking and the lack of knowledge of practical coping skills produces the obsessive and compulsive desire for the absence of pain. So what is the solution? The recovering person examines their external relationship to their environment and the belief system that evokes a perceived hostile and victimizing relationship. Then, the recovering person cultivates a more internal accountability and responsibility of the emotional and behavioral response to their environment rather than an exhausting and frustrating emotional and behavioral attempt to change their external environment.In early recovery, identifying the faulty or irrational beliefs that impact the relationship their environment and learn to live, “Life on Life’s Terms.” The lack of skills to cope, manage, and accept are addressed by introducing and educating the individual with a more rational and productive method to cope. This blog post takes a look at coping. The next two blogs examine managing and accepting.

Coping can be viewed as a simple, fine art that increases in value over time. For the recovering person, within active addiction, the main skill for managing any emotion was the pursuit of oblivion through the use of drugs. Many substance users are introduced to their first drug very early in childhood. This is a time of life when the individual are developing coping skills that assist with managing feelings of when their does or does not meet their wants and needs. This is the time when one learns to differentiate between their wants and needs. Furthermore, the individual learns to discern who is responsible for meeting those wants and needs. However, when the child uses, this mature development is stagnated. The individual learns that life is about feeling euphoric and high which is equated with good and “my number one priority.” Those coping skills such as the healthy management of stress, disappointment, and anger are replaced by snorting, drinking, or smoking those feelings into non-existence. There is another saying in recovery that “we grow up in the public.” This is referencing the learning curve of developing social skills, communication skills, respect for self and others, and accepting responsibility and accountability for their actions. The recovering person learns to replace those irrational belief systems with rational belief systems which enables the individual to respond rather than react. The individual practices decision making, compromising, and communicating to maintain healthy and long term relationships. “Easy does it,” “One day at a time,” and “FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real” are common slogans among recovering persons assist with reminding the individual “to keep it simple.” Engaging in new relationships with other recovering persons are essential to long term recovery. The unspoken language empathy lets the newly recovering person develop a support system who can offer their experience, strength, and hope to stay abstinent from using substances. Now, we will talk about the practical skills to managing life.


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