Emotional Struggles Later in Recovery

Emotional Struggles Later in Recovery

After the dust settles in recovery, and things began to become more stable, it seems like it would be natural to be in a place where life is flowing easier. However, this time can often be a complicated time for those in recovery. This can be a time where many look back on the progress that they’ve made, and realize the impact that they’ve had on the lives of others in their lives. This can lead to serious feelings of grief and loss.

There can be a crossroads at this point. One path can lead to isolation, which can increase the risk for problems such as relapse. The other is walking through this grief, to reach a place of increased contentment. These tips can help keep you grounded through this difficult time:

  1. Utilize your support network. Whether you’re in a 12-step group, or you have friends who know your story, it is important to have a support network. If you don’t have one, it’s important to work on building trusting relationships, so you can utilize them when you’re experiencing this grief.
  2. Recognize that you’re not alone. It can help to prepare for this time in your recovery. However, even if this time in your recovery catches you off guard, you can still process through this by realizing that others in recovery are feeling this way. Listening to those stories can help you realize that you’re not the only one who is experiencing this.
  3. Give yourself credit. One of the reasons that you’re feeling this grief is because you’re more in touch with your emotions. Although this is a time where your emotions can make it difficult, these same emotions are going to help you connect with others in your life. We’re all built for connection. You’re no exception to this rule.
  4. Practice patience. The emotions won’t be emotions that you’ll never have again, but the intensity will decrease. In those moments that feel like they’re getting close to unbearable, remember that it won’t remain consistently complicated.
  5. Watch for relapse. This is often the time where relapse potential is underestimated. There has often been a lot of time that has passed since the last period of acting out. Even if you’re not having any specific urges, take a daily inventory to assess for unconscious temptations to act out.

This time can be complicated, but it can be a time of enormous growth. It’s here where you can deepen your understanding of your addiction. Shame and disconnection are often at the underbelly of addictions. But this can look different for each person who is dealing with an addiction. While you learn how to walk through this grief, you’ll learn about shame and missing connections in your life. This can help you discover ways to fill in these voids.

Shame sounds easy to identify, but it’s not.

For many, addictive behavior wraps shame up, so that it’s not even recognizable. It can become buried deep, under several layers. It’s in this grieving process that many of the layers begin to unfold. Although this can be difficult, it can give you an understanding that can help you practice connection and authenticity for much of your life. This connection and authenticity can help you build your relationships, help you appreciate yourself, and avoid addictive behaviors in the future.

So when you start to feel difficult and even negative emotions creep up at a time where you thought things would be easier, know that this is normal. Loneliness, depression, and sadness can all occur in this phase. These feelings are reflections of your capacity for connection. Although they can be tough to handle, they aren’t impossible to work through. With support and patience, the intensity will begin to fade, you’ll realize the value that you bring to the world, and you’ll connect with those you want to connect with.


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