When it comes to the recovery process from addiction, several unrealistic expectations can arise early on. People in early recovery often go through the “honeymoon phase” where everything seems great and life will always be incredible now, and so on. This phase usually occurs after the “existential crisis” phase of withdrawal where everything seems terrible and they think they will never have fun again and life has lost all meaning. Very often, some people go through both phases multiple times, and that’s all quite normal.
It’s important to remember that early recovery will often be a roller coaster of emotions. When a person makes significant life changes, there are likely to be a wide range of emotions. When a person does something as life changing as sober up, the contrast of emotions becomes even more significant. You should not worry about the expenses of recovery. There are many ways to pay for drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
So what should a person do? First, I think it’s important that we learn to manage our expectations of early recovery. Dealing with expectations is especially important for people who are in recovery themselves and for those whose loved ones have gone through this process. When we recognize that certain things are to be expected and typical, we can deal with them effectively.
1. There will be great days and there will be terrible days.
When I first sobered up, I had days when I woke up feeling above the world and everything seemed bright and new. Then there were days when I woke up full of fear and fear. There were days when I felt both on the same day. It takes a lot of compensation to get through the early stages of sobriety as we learn to live life on the terms of life. Without having drugs and alcohol to deal with things, we have to deal with the emotions as they come, which can be scary. Even if the ups and downs feel exhausting, they will even out over time.
2. It is normal to worry and question your decision.
It is common for someone to be willing to sober up and receive treatment one day and then change their mind the next day. A second guess often arises because the desire is intense and change is frightening. I felt that myself, and most of the people I’ve worked with had doubts of some sort early on that later subsided. This flip-flop is normal and fine too. Just because a person questions their decision to sober up doesn’t mean they won’t be able to sober up. The important thing is that they process these feelings because they usually happen. Inpatient treatment is an effective option to help a person overcome early doubts.
3. Not everything will be perfect.
Sometimes people think that once they are sober, all of their problems will go away. While it is true that sobriety helps a person not to create unnecessary problems in their life, this is where the cleaning up of the mess begins. Just because you sober up doesn’t mean everything will get better right away. There is a lot of damage that needs to be repaired to make your life better. The task may seem daunting, but the only way to get it done is to work through it.
4. Not everything will be terrible.
On the other hand, many people think that once they stop drinking they will never have fun again and all of life will be horrible which is not true. It will take a while to get used to a life free of drugs and alcohol and to learn new ways to have fun. But often times, people will find that their lives become more comfortable when they stop sabotaging themselves with drugs.
5. It will take a while to find a new normal.
Sobering up is a major life change. By the time a person goes into rehab, they have usually been drinking or using drugs for a while. It will be difficult to adjust at first, but over time things will feel normal. I’ve always wondered how I could get through life without ever drinking again. Nine years later, I hardly think about alcohol anymore, and the thought of going back to my previous lifestyle is so repulsive that I never want to drink again.
6. Emotions can feel very overwhelming at first.
After years of numbing our emotions with drugs, it can be difficult to get used to feeling them again. Rediscovering emotions can be an overwhelming experience, but over time we learn to really feel our feelings. I remember being so overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and happiness. The longer we are sober, the more everything begins to balance out and the better we get at dealing with our emotions.
7. There will be many changes to be made.
To stay sober, you can’t just stop drinking or using drugs. Many other changes also need to be made. For example, if you keep hanging out with people who use it, it becomes harder to stay sober. If you keep going to bars, the chances of relapse are high. If you don’t find a healthy coping mechanism, life’s problems will feel too overwhelming. Getting sober isn’t just about not drinking or consuming; it’s a complete lifestyle change.
8. It’s okay not to feel good all the time.
Difficult emotions can be hard to deal with because, honestly, nobody likes to feel sad or angry. Learning that it is okay to experience these emotions is a big step in understanding the harmful effects of constant flight from discomfort. It’s okay to have bad days; You don’t have to pretend you’re happy or pretend everything is going well. It’s okay to be authentic with people who support you, and these terrible days won’t last forever.
9. Not everyone will understand or support it.
The sad thing about getting sober is that not everyone will support your decision. Some people will question you and try to say that you weren’t that bad or they won’t want to hang out with you anymore. It is important to part with people who will not support you on this journey because it will be challenging enough without people trying to hold you back. Part of starting out sober is learning how to break ties with the people who are causing you to fall.
10. It will be worth it.
It is not easy. Nobody said it would be like that. It takes a lot of self-reflection, courage, and perseverance, but it will be worth it to be free from your addiction.
Recovery from addiction may seem like a crazy roller coaster ride at first and may not feel like getting through the tough times is worth all the hassle, but it will all be worth it in the end. When you learn to deal with your expectations of the process, it becomes a lot easier.