When you entered recovery, you probably accepted it wouldn’t be an easy ride. No matter how many self-help blogs and books you read that convinced you to pursue a sober lifestyle in the first place, you already knew addiction is a lifelong disease, and that managing it takes a significant commitment on your part.
Though we like to focus on the many positives of recovery, such as rediscovering your health and your potential in life, we also don’t want to gloss over the fact that the journey takes work. Addiction changes you physically, emotionally and psychologically, and you can’t expect those to reverse themselves overnight. Here are four challenging aspects of recovery you should be prepared for.
1. Trouble Sleeping
Prolonged drug and alcohol use disrupts your body’s circadian rhythms, which throws off your sleeping patterns. Falling and staying asleep can present a challenge, especially in early recovery. And, to make matters worse, not getting enough quality sleep may pose a threat to your sobriety. You can be proactive about this issue by developing a relaxing nighttime routine that helps you unwind and quiet your mind. Meditation and talk therapy can also help improve your sleep.
When you are figuring out how to build a new life that doesn’t revolve around drinking or drug use, boredom can be a struggle. It may feel as if time moves much more slowly when you don’t have anything to fill all the hours of your life you spent chasing and using substances before your recovery. Once you re-enter society after completing a qualified treatment program, you will have to learn to adjust to life without the structure that program provided. If you feel boredom threatening, some of the best ways to stave it off include exercising, journaling, gardening and volunteering. You could also take up a new hobby like painting or learning a new language.
Addiction walls you off from the world. Addicted people often push others away until there is nothing left for them but their substance of choice. After completing a treatment program, you may discover you no longer have many close friends, and those who remain remind you of the time when you were in active addiction. You will have to work to establish a new sober network of friends you can rely on to keep you accountable and provide a helping hand when you are having a difficult day. The people you meet in rehab can provide a strong foundation for this new peer group.
4. No Shortcuts
Addicted people get used to relying on their substance of choice as a crutch to help them get through life. If your brain is replaying traumatic scenes, or your anxiety is making it hard to leave the house, drugs and alcohol are a shortcut to feeling better quickly. They dull the pain by allowing you to push unpleasant thoughts to the side. There are no such shortcuts in sobriety. It takes time to see the results, and you will have to re-commit to the process every day, learning new things about yourself along the way.