Getting sober is a fantastic accomplishment. It takes great inner strength and effort to stop abusing drugs or alcohol. However, the work does not stop once you stop using.
There are countless ways to focus on your own personal emotional sobriety. Consider the following:
1. Identify and Address Your Emotional Issues
Everyone, regardless of if they have a substance use disorder or not, experiences some level of emotional struggle. That is one of the few things that people simply cannot avoid. When you are in recovery from a substance use disorder, however, your emotional wellbeing is critical to your success. That is why it is so important to identify and address your emotional issues.
In order to do this, there are several things that you can do. For starters, seeing a therapist on a regular basis can help you achieve this goal. Your therapist can help you identify the most pressing emotional issues you are experiencing. As soon as you have labeled these issues, you and your therapist will begin sorting through them. Your therapist might apply specific therapies (such as CBT or EMDR) to kick start the process. The more you work with him or her, the more you can face your emotional challenges and overcome them.
Seeing a therapist is not the only way to identify and address your emotions, though. Many people find that through attending support groups (like AA or NA), they can do this very important work. Depending on your comfort level in your groups, you can make great progress in addressing emotional setbacks. You can also do things independently, like write in a journal or meditate, to enhance your emotional wellness.
You can utilize one of these resources or combine them together to help you deal with your emotional sobriety.
2. Communicate with Others
When it comes to your emotions, communication is key. Chances are that when you were active in your addiction, you ignored or masked your emotions. Handling your emotions that way probably led to your continued substance abuse. If you continue to address your emotions in this manner when sober, they will only fester and eventually reemerge. Unfortunately, this behavior can lead to relapse.
To prevent relapse and to protect your emotional sobriety, you must communicate. Thankfully, there are many ways to communicate your emotions. You can speak with your therapist during regular sessions, allowing for that outlet. Outside of your sessions, you can lean on your support system of loved ones to share your feelings.
You do not always have to utilize your voice to communicate. You can engage in recreational activities or journal your emotions as to not bottle them up. These are simply just some suggestions. Since communication is key, it is important that you find a way to do so that works for you.
3. Avoid Boredom
One of the biggest threats to sobriety is boredom. Boredom breeds negative emotions like loneliness, sadness, and hopelessness. It can leave you feeling unfulfilled, causing you to search out anything that pulls you out of your boredom. This is where impulsivity and poor decision making come into play, as you want so desperately to stop being bored. For many, drinking and using drugs is one of the first decisions they make.
The good news is that you do not need to get to this place. You can prevent boredom in several ways. Consider the following:
- Get a membership at your local gym
- Make plans with your friends
- Do hobbies and activities that bring you joy
- Connect with nature by getting outdoors
The key to avoiding boredom is to keep yourself busy. However, that does not mean that you need to always be doing something. Good self-care and relaxation are important, too. Try to strike a balance between avoiding boredom and making time to decompress.
4. Accept that Sobriety Includes Emotional Sobriety, too
Ego is something that all people who abuse drugs or alcohol struggle with. It is easy for people to think that they are “better” because they stopped using, but that isn’t always the case. Your ego can make you think things like this, which can compromise your sobriety. Arguably the most critical thing you can do work to accept that sobriety also equals emotional sobriety. If you have spent a great deal of time abusing drugs or alcohol, chances are you have been avoiding feeling your emotions. So, when the time comes to talk about them, it can be difficult to break down that wall. However, there is no way you can develop emotional wellness without addressing your emotional needs.
Learning acceptance is not as easy as you might think. It can take time and effort to finally accept that you have emotional baggage. So, do not set expectations for yourself. Do not compare out to others in recovery. Focus on your recovery goals, including accepting that you must deal with your emotional sobriety, too.
Do You Need Professional Addiction Treatment?
Addiction is a very painful disease to have. Thankfully, it is treatable. You do not need to stay trapped in a dangerous cycle of substance abuse. At our treatment center, we can help you.
If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, call us now. Even if you are sober but are feeling shaky in your recovery, reach out. The sooner you ask for help, the sooner you can begin living a happy, addiction-free life.