The Rollercoaster of Emotions in Early Addiction Recovery

Early Recovery is an Emotional Rollercoaster

While ups and downs in life are expected, the rollercoaster of emotions that come with alcohol and drug rehabilitation can be surprising and overwhelming to addicts. This point is particularly true in the early part of recovery when an addict typically feels extreme highs and lows.

Change as a Contributing Factor

Entering rehab is a huge step for a person struggling with an addiction to alcohol, prescription drugs, or illicit drugs. It is a time abundant with changes, including ending relationships with “friends” who still drink or use drugs, making new sober friends, and finding activities to fill the void of time no longer spent using or drinking. With so many changes, it makes sense that there are many emotions felt, including sadness, fear, anger, and withdrawal.

Getting Back in Touch with Emotions

Often, addicts use drugs or alcohols to numb their feelings; the substances provide a way to escape emotions they do not want to deal with, such as guilt or shame. When they later decide to seek treatment, they must abstain from these substances and, therefore, start to feel their emotions again. After feeling numb for what is typically many years, a person in rehab often feels overcome with the array of emotions.

Other Mental Health Problems

An undiagnosed mental health issue may account for emotional highs and lows in early rehab. A good treatment program involves an initial mental health assessment to determine if the person in drug or alcohol rehab has a co-existing disorder, such as depression. A recovery center can provide a person in this situation with appropriate medical attention.

Sleep and Nutritional Issues

Emotions may also be rampant if the person in recovery does not get enough sleep or enters rehab with nutritional deficits. While these issues may be avoidable while on drugs or drinking, they are more likely to come to light and be a source of emotional discomfort during rehabilitation.

Getting onto Stable Ground

Many addicts experience huge emotional highs and lows during substance abuse rehab, particularly early on when there are many issues to address. To get off the roller coaster and onto more stable ground where the person in recovery begins to feel in control of their life again is the goal. Entering a rehab facility provides the individual with the opportunity to learn how to cope instead of turning to drugs or alcohol.