The term emotional sobriety refers to knowing how to regulate your emotions in a healthy way. Emotional sobriety is just as important to your recovery as refraining from drugs and alcohol. At Mountain Laurel Recovery Center’s Pennsylvania drug and alcohol treatment facility, we take a holistic approach to recovery—working to help our clients heal their body, mind, and spirit.
The process of achieving emotional sobriety is a little different for everyone, but this article outlines some goals that we often help our clients create as part of their recovery journey. To learn more about how we can help you build a life free from the burden of addiction, fill out our contact form or call to speak to one of our admissions representatives today.
Being able to express your feelings clearly is the cornerstone of an emotionally balanced life, but many of us don’t learn how to articulate our feelings due to childhood trauma or growing up in an environment where we were taught to ignore or hide how we truly felt.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, a standard part of substance abuse treatment, helps you better understand how thoughts and feelings influence your behaviors. Holistic treatments such art therapy help you learn how to express yourself without turning to drugs and alcohol.
Trouble communicating openly can also affect the ability to maintain intimate relationships. Often, men and women with addiction become so accustomed to having sex while under the influence that the idea of sober intimacy is hard to fathom. Of course, since working on yourself should be your first priority in the early stages of recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other self-help groups generally recommend refraining from dating and intimacy until you’ve been in recovery for one year or more.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. From being stuck in rush-hour traffic to facing a challenging assignment at work, you can expect to encounter stressful situations on a regular basis. To prevent stress from becoming a trigger for relapse, you need to develop healthy ways to keep your stress levels in check. These might include exercise, mindfulness meditation, prayer, writing in a journal, or engaging in a favorite hobby.
If a jam-packed schedule is causing you stress, keep in mind that setting healthy boundaries is part of living a wellness-focused life. It’s OK to say no to social commitments, volunteer work, or projects that are just too much for you to manage while you’re dealing with your recovery-related issues. The people who care about you will understand that you’re doing your best to stay on the right path.
Abusing drugs and alcohol to cope with feelings of anger quickly becomes a vicious cycle. You may feel better temporarily, but substance abuse will impair your judgment and cause you to do or say things that only cause further problems. The consequences of your actions while under the influence can lead to more feelings of anger, which sends you right back to substance abuse for comfort.
Anger is a natural and normal human emotion, but it’s not OK to use your anger as an excuse to hurt others or yourself. Learning how to control your anger is a vital part of emotional sobriety. In people with substance abuse issues, anger is often triggered by insecurities, fears, frustrations, hurt pride, and perceived disrespect. These are often the same issues that played a role in the development of a drug or alcohol problem, so addressing them in substance abuse treatment should help a person to feel less angry.
For men with addiction, it should be noted that uncontrolled anger is often a sign of depression. Treatment with antidepressants and talk therapy may be a necessary part of the recovery process.
Being Resilient in the Face of Adversity
Recovery can be a long and difficult process. You may find that some of your friends or family members are reluctant to trust you due to the mistakes you’ve made in the past. You might even experience a relapse.
Resilience refers to the ability to learn from challenges and struggles instead of dwelling on the past. People who are resilient try to look for opportunities for growth and positive change, instead of always focusing on the negative aspects of a situation.
Being resilient is often mistakenly viewed as a natural inborn trait, but it’s actually a characteristic people can develop at any point. To become more resilient, you can:
- Work toward building strong relationships with friends and family.
- Set goals that provide clarity and purpose.
- Journal about experiences regularly so you gain a clear perspective on what’s already happened and what lessons you can apply to the future.
- Continue to work with your therapist on your personal recovery goals.