Life looks extremely different after you get sober from substance abuse. The ways in which you deal with stress, grief, anger, sadness, and other negative emotions change once you stop using and get sober. You go from coping with unhealthy methods to using ones that don’t slow you down and hinder your well-being. Examining the ways in which people cope with life’s challenges before and after sobriety can motivate people struggling with substance abuse to get help and work towards sobriety.
Pre-Sobriety & Unhealthy Coping Methods
When someone is in the midst of addiction, they turn to drugs, alcohol, or whatever substance they are addicted to for comfort. The brain is rewired as the addiction progresses, changing the reward circuit to make it more susceptible to seeking out the substance over necessities such as eating or sleeping.
When life takes a turn for the worse as it sometimes does, those that are dealing with addiction will turn to substance abuse for a quick “fix.” This is because the substance can help the person relax, enter into a state of euphoria, or just be distracted for a little bit so they can cope with the negativity. Some may even use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with low self-esteem. When the addicted mind comes across anything remotely negative, cravings for the substance will occur and the individual finds it hard to resist the substance even if they no longer want to use it.
When Substance Abuse Doesn’t Work Anymore
For many addicts, there comes the point when drugs or alcohol just aren’t helping with the negativity in life anymore. They may realize that their usage has gotten out of control and want a way out to cope in better ways. While this is not the reason for many to go to rehab, it is common.
Learning Healthy Coping Methods
In treatment, individuals are taught how to cope with life’s challenges in a positive way that doesn’t involve substance abuse. This process sets the individuals up for success after treatment to maintain their sobriety even in the face of grief, anger, stress, sadness, depression, and other negative emotions.
In a combination of group therapy, individual therapy, and alternative therapies, clients are taught how to cope with various situations and scenarios. There are common coping strategies that are taught to the group, but individualized ones are given as well, depending on the person, the severity of their addiction, and their journey to sobriety. Common methods that are taught are: having open communication, keeping a gratitude journal, breathing and relaxation techniques, identifying triggers, exercising, using the H.A.L.T. method, working with a sponsor, and more. Over time, these strategies are implemented into the person’s recovery and they are taught how to use them in real-life situations.
Post-Sobriety & New Strategies
Once you leave treatment, you will most likely have developed an aftercare plan that includes various resources and coping strategies to help maintain sobriety outside of rehab. The aftercare plan is made to prevent relapse and help the individual work towards other future goals. Many of the coping methods in the plan will be ones that the person learned in rehab as a reminder of how and when to utilize them.
A New Perspective
Maintaining sobriety can be difficult if you are not actively working towards it. Those that maintain sobriety for decades after treatment do so by actively implementing the coping strategies they learned in rehab and tweaking them when they saw fit. They want to continue progressing forward and are more diligent in keeping up with their recovery work. This could mean going to support groups, keeping in touch with a sponsor, or being involved in the treatment center’s alumni program. This will keep them in a recovery mindset surrounded by those that can support them on the bad days.
The person that is able to take on life’s challenges in stride and cope with them in healthy ways is a world away from the person that uses substances to cope with their problems. However, it can be the same person. The person that once lived in a dark place can become the one who provides the light for others. They inspire others and work to maintain their sobriety for their own good.
At Northstar Transitions, we strive for all of our clients to come out of treatment stronger than when they entered. We believe that all of our clients are capable of becoming that ray of light in the world of recovery, and we want to help them achieve that place in their life. By implementing a mixture of traditional and alternative therapies, our clients learn various ways to identify and cope with negative emotions in their own lives. This will prepare them for life outside of Northstar with the hope of maintaining long-term recovery. Of course, we don’t leave our clients hanging. We create individualized aftercare plans to aid in the next step of their journey and are always here to pick them up should they need further support. If you or someone you know is dealing with unhealthy coping mechanisms and want to turn your life around, contact us today at (303) 558-6400. We are here to provide you with the proper tools to make you the best version of yourself you can be.