How to Cope Positively with Unwanted Emotions

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Blog » Addiction Articles » How to Cope Positively with Unwanted Emotions

October 10, 2012

Your defense mechanism to escape from uncomfortable emotions (or emotions in general) doesn’t ever seem to go away. It is easier to just be high or numbed out from any emotional experience, especially the icky ones. But while high you miss out on so much: Being available for family, friends and your children during both good and bad times. You have to learn how to manage your emotions better and not see ones such as loss as an excuse for picking up a drink or drugs.

Why Do Some Emotions Hurt So Badly?

Initially, when you enter drug and/or alcohol detox, all you can think about is the pain you may experience from withdrawal. Then it hits you, a flood of emotions: The good, the bad and the ugly. People who aren’t addicts don’t understand this unnerving experience. Your mind races from incident to incident, reliving the thoughts. But without the buffer of drugs or alcohol, you’re experiencing the emotions for the first time. It feels like being hit by several trucks all at once. Most addicts use drugs and alcohol to avoid these unwanted emotions. When you get sober, you must learn how to avoid relapse during residual emotions.

Coping with Residual Emotions in Treatment

Different life experiences and emotions from your past (when you were actively using) have a tremendous impact on you after detox. Many times you may experience feelings that trigger all of the emotions from your past. Those are the times you typically seek out substances to numb feelings such as anger, fear, sadness, depression, confusion and anxiety. If you are aware of how your emotions affect you, you can handle them better when they arise. How do you cope with uncomfortable emotions and stay sober?

  1. Be aware of your emotions.
  2. Examine your present situation objectively.
  3. Ask yourself if your emotions match your current situation.
  4. Separate your past experiences from present experiences.
  5. Have a list of coping behaviors, such as exercise, prayer or talking to a friend to offset uncomfortable emotions.
  6. Work with your sponsor and therapist to resolve underlying issues.

Staying Sober After Drug Rehab

Your past will always be there and you cannot change that fact. You do have options on how you want to live the rest of your life: In the past or in the present. All addicts have made mistakes, but it is not good to continue focusing or punishing yourself for your mistakes. Finding resolution through making amends, forgiving and setting healthy boundaries is essential to managing your uncomfortable emotions. In drug rehab you learn about the steps to make positive changes in your life to promote sobriety. Your treatment therapist can help you cope with the past and present events causing you pain and discomfort.


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