It’s common to have emotional ups and down when you’re in recovery. Many people turn to drugs or alcohol in the first place to help escape emotional pain. For instance, the loss of a loved one, the loss of employment, or divorce can be incredibly challenging. They can even cause someone to turn to substances as a way of coping with uncomfortable or overwhelming emotions. Later, when a person has gone through detox and is learning to create a new life without substances, those challenging emotions might resurface, and finally facing them can be hard. You might begin to feel sad, confused, or depressed.
If this is the case, it’s important to remember that having feelings is perfectly normal. No matter what you’re feeling, emotions are part of being human. You don’t have to be hard on yourself because you’re not feeling happy, joyful, or emotionally healthy. The simple act of accepting yourself and your feelings is healing in and of itself.
Use these tips the next time you’re feeling down
Of course, some feelings are hard to accept. They might be too overwhelming or powerful. They might be hard to face or even experience. If that’s the case, then you may need support of a professional, perhaps a therapist, drug counselor, or sponsor. Yet, if you feel you can handle your emotions but with some support, here are tips for what to do when you’re feeling down in your recovery:
- Stay in touch with old friends whose friendships may be supportive.
- Explore online sober communities for new connections and support.
- Consider joining groups that your friends and family enjoy and participate with them.
- Give yourself opportunities for expressing your emotions. You might share at a 12-step meeting, talk to a therapist, be creative, or call a friend you trust.
- Allow yourself to grieve if you haven’t already.
- Get the right professional support to help you work through any unresolved issues or trauma.
- Limit the time you spend with negative people or those who may jeopardize a positive mood.
- Lend a helping hand to others from time to time. Giving back to the community can inspire positive feelings.
- Take good care of yourself physically.
- Regularly do things you enjoy.
- Give yourself time for plenty of self care each week.
These are suggestions for helping to lift your mood if you feel down in recovery. At the same time, it’s also important to remember that some drugs can impair brain function and in turn can create low moods. Also, certain drugs that created great highs in people, like cocaine and heroin can result in low moods when in early recovery. Similarly, drugs like ecstasy and marijuana can induce anxiety and panic attacks in some people when they are in early recovery. This too can impair one’s mood.
If you find yourself low, depressed, or sad in recovery, ask yourself if you can manage it on your own. If you can, try one of the above tips. If you feel you cannot, talk to a professional who can better assist you.