Emotional Sobriety: Learning To Express Emotions During Recovery

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Even after we’ve gone through the detoxification process and our body is flushed from toxins acquired from addiction, we have to continue the healing and rejuvenation process of our mind, body and spirit. From the beginning of the period when we developed an addiction, we’ve covered up many aspects of our lives that serve great purpose in living a meaningful life; many people find that painful, deep emotions lie further down within and they become harder and harder to grasp, and it becomes even more challenging to express our emotions as time – and the addiction – go on. Throughout recovery, we have to pay close attention to our thoughts and emotions, because these are what shape our perceptions – and perception is what guides us in life.  

Emotional sobriety could be defined differently depending on the person, but it’s generally about acceptance, managing emotions in healthy ways, and practicing self-awareness so that we can continue to thrive in recovery. For anyone who has struggled with addiction, emotional sobriety is not an easy task – especially when we don’t have a firm grasp on healthy coping mechanisms for strong emotions like anger, depression, anxiety, sadness and more. The reality is that when a person is emotionally sober, they’re able to sit with whatever discomfort they’re experiencing. They’re no longer escaping those emotions in search of a “high” – and it takes some time to get ot this period. 

For many in recovery, substances once served as a crutch – a way to avoid life’s seemingly endless problems that have weighed so heavily on one’s shoulders. When uncomfortable emotions would arise, alcohol or drugs would cover up that feeling – and while it seemed like it solved all problems, it was only temporary. Addiction really forces people to shut away all of the thoughts and feelings that come with having real human thoughts and emotions. Recovery is sobering not just on a physical level, but on an emotional one, too – and that’s where we can find growth and ultimate transformation.

Those who’ve been in recovery for some time can attest to the fact that emotional sobriety requires slowly and steadily reminding oneself all of the people, places and things that could throw them off in recovery – and instead of immediately reacting, taking in the discomfort with and allowing oneself to sit with the emotion while they process it. 

There are many steps you can take on a daily basis to maintain emotional sobriety, but you have to recognize that you’re not always going to want to take these steps. When you’re feeling great, you’ll clearly notice that you’re taking strides towards your recovery goals – but on the bad days, the days when you want to give up or when you’re feeling angry, you have to keep using the strategies of emotional sobriety and not give in to relapse.

While unhealthy distraction – such as reverting to drinking or using other substances – is definitely dangerous when it comes to sobriety and maintaining your recovery journey, there are other ways that you can distract yourself that are much healthier options. When painful thoughts or emotions arise, you can choose to subtly distract yourself in order to distance yourself from pain or discomfort that could send you into relapse. 

Much of the mental and emotional processing involved with this includes changing your thought patterns to be more constructive and helpful for recovery. It’s easy to immediately react to situations, people or our emotions, but emotional reactions aren’t always beneficial – and putting some more logic into the equation could prevent a relapse episode altogether.

Whether you believe it or not – oftentimes, when we set the thought or intention, our emotions will follow afterwards. By following up the uncomfortable thought or feeling with something positive, you’re initiating something different in your mind to break up that space of negativity.  

CBT is a therapy approach that helps people break up old, negative thought patterns with newer, more productive ones. You can work closely with your therapist ta Avalon Malibu to work on CBT skills that are manageable for you – and you’ll find that you’re well on your way in maintaining emotional sobriety.

If you’re ready to seek help for an addiction, speak with a professional from Avalon Malibu today. It’s never too late to begin living the life you’ve always wanted – and that always begins with your health and wellbeing. 

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 844-857-5992 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you – it’s never too late to begin taking steps towards a happier, healthier life. 

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