Many people who become addicted to drugs have co-occurring mental health disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a widespread mental health issue in America, especially during the era of COVID-19. Many people during this crisis are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety.
Anxiety and Substance Use
Many people who have anxiety abuse drugs or alcohol. After all, one of the first initial reasons people decide to experiment with drugs is “to relax.” Some people with anxiety are also prescribed benzodiazepine drugs to ease their anxiety. Benzos can be highly addictive and cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms even if you’ve been using them as prescribed.
Anxiety can be a fleeting emotion or a mental health disorder, depending on the symptoms you feel. Some people find it to be debilitating. Lots of people use alcohol and drugs to self-medicate anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. It’s not healthy, but it’s common.
The good news is that when you get sober, you’ll learn new coping tools for anxiety. You’ll start to gain confidence in life, too! So you may end up feeling a lot less anxious in the long run.
A Few Simple Ways to Cope with Feeling Anxious
Everyone feels nervous or anxious, but this is much more common among the newly sober. When people first get sober, they often feel like many of their emotions are raw and new. After quieting them with substances for some time, it may feel dramatic to reencounter your feelings. Learning to cope with feelings and be prepared for them is one part of recovery you’ll tackle throughout your life.
Here are some suggestions for when you feel anxious:
- Download a breathing app for your phone. Breathing apps help you regulate your breathing and calm yourself. Relaxation exercises can help slow down your blood pressure, too. Try the Calm App or Simply Being to learn short meditations and breathing exercises.
- Take a bath and listen to soothing music. Everyone has music that makes them feel more energized and upbeat. Take some time to indulge in it.
- Write about your feelings, using as many cuss words as you want. Journaling is a great way to “figure things out” and get to the bottom of it.
- Exercise for at least 15 minutes a day. Exercise helps your body release feel-good chemicals in the brain and enables you to stay healthy and strong.
- Act out a situation that brings you anxiety with your therapist or sponsor. For example, you can practice an apology to a friend or an interview for a potential job.
If you feel like anxiety is controlling your behavior or life, there’s always help available. A mental health professional can screen you for anxiety, give you advice and tools to control it. If medication is necessary, a doctor can safely prescribe it for you.
Getting Help for Addiction
Do you need help with a substance use disorder? We’re here to help you or your loved one recover! Even during COVID-19, we have found ways to make treatment accessible to our clients. Call us at 619-363-4767 to learn more about your options.
Are you scared of facing certain situations in recovery? Are you worried that you won’t be brave enough to stay the path? Many people think that to have courage, you must be fearless. But you can have fears and be bold at the same time. Fears - and working through them -- are an important aspect of addiction recovery.
There are a lot of aspects of life that can be scary to newly sober individuals.
Everyone has to walk through and face their fear every once in a while. Without doing this, we’re left to face the same fears over and over, without resolution. Whether you’re afraid to speak in front of the class or to have an awkward talk with a loved one, walking through that fear is a show of strength and growth.
5 Typical Fears in Recovery
Starting something new, especially lifechanging or drastic, can bring a lot of fears up for people. Treatment itself may seem scary or foreign to you. However, getting clean and sober itself can be a frightening prospect if you don’t have a plan.
- What will treatment be like? Having a plan can help you resist fearfulness when you first get sober. When you go to a treatment center, they will help you plan a schedule, so you get the therapy and support you need. So while it may seem scary at first, you’ll be able to get through that fear and trust the process.
- Many people are also afraid they will have no friends or “be alone” once they’ve stopped using alcohol or drugs. This fear is rational but short-lived. In treatment, you’ll learn that you have a vast support network available to you, especially at 12-step meetings.
- You may worry that your relationships or family are irreparable.
- The future. You may be worried about going back to work, where you will live after drug rehab and other aspects of your life. (The best advice for this: take life one day at a time.)
- How will you stay sober? Once treatment is over, you’ll want to have a plan for where you will live, what support groups you will attend, and other technicalities. You will learn new coping skills when you are in treatment, so pay attention!
The more effort you put into treatment, the more you will get out of it. Talking about your fears can help you put them in perspective. Every part of life in recovery goes step-by-step. So allow yourself some breathing room before worrying about everything all at once.
Working Through Fears
Learning what your fears are, and taking steps to conquer them, will help you continue to live a life free from fear. Nobody goes through life without worries – it’s normal and natural. Learning to cope with anxiety gets easier throughout life.
The best way to get over your fears is to make a decision even if you’re afraid. So take each day at a time and try to speak up when you feel scared. Other people can help you talk through your fears and find great ways to challenge them.
Getting Help for Addiction
We’re here to help you or your loved one recover! Even during COVID-19, we have found ways to make treatment accessible to our clients. Click here to learn more. We want to help! You’re never alone, and we want to help you reclaim your life.
Contact us at 619-363-4767 to learn more about how we can help.
Are you feeling more anxious than usual? There are a lot of reasons to be afraid right now, and the media isn’t doing us any favors. Anxiety, anger, and fear are all valid and part of what makes us human. Sometimes anxiety can be paralyzing or overwhelming. This is true for many people, not just those with substance use disorders. You may not know what to do to keep yourself safe, or feel like there’s too much to do and you’ll never get it all done.
Working Through Anxiety
First of all, you need to know that as a person in recovery, you’re a survivor. You have been through a lot to get to where you are today. Staying sober isn’t always easy, but life is easier when you stay sober and have a network of friends and support to turn to.
Here are a few ways to work through your anxiety:
- Keep a feelings journal where you vent your fears every day. When you’re done venting, don’t reread or rehash those emotions. Close the book on them for the day and continue doing what you need to do to stay sane and sober.
- Listen to soothing music and think about all the positives in your life. You’re here, you’re sober, and you’re breathing.
- Practice slow breathing exercises. There are many of these available on video websites and audio websites. Take what works for you, and leave the rest.
- Speak up about your fears. You may think they’re ridiculous or silly, but by telling somebody else about them, you’re sharing the burden. Other people may feel scared and anxious too. Listen to their feelings once you’ve shared them.
- Remember what’s important and think about those things. Maybe you’re taking online classes to further your education or spending more time with your children. While you may be powerless over what is happening in the world, you can still control your actions for today. Make your day worthwhile.
- Work on your recovery. In some cases, you may live in a locality that has seen too much COVID-19 spread and there may be restrictions on group gatherings. Don’t be afraid to try something different, such as informal support group meetings. Consider using Facebook or conferencing apps to have meetings on the computer. You can even organize “living room” meetings of 5 people to stay supported.
Following the guidelines where you live is really important. Don’t risk your health or the health of others. You should be proud of your recovery right now, and guard it like a treasured possession. This means talking to people in recovery, continuing to work on your 12-step program, and allowing yourself to feel the emotions while you’re getting through this difficult time.
You're Never Alone
Even if you’re stuck self-isolating, you don’t have to be alone. Find 12-step meetings online, participate in recovery discussions on Facebook and elsewhere. Ask your sponsor, a friend or a therapist to help you make alternative plans for now.
You can get through this. You’re resilient and brave, even when you’re feeling scared or low. Recovery is the best option for you right now – it will help you stay safe and sane.
Be gentle with yourself, and have faith you can make it through hard times. You can and WILL get through this, one day at a time.
Getting Help for Addiction
Addiction doesn’t care who you are or what your plans are. It’s a cunning and powerful disorder that can be treated by caring professionals. Detox can help you clear your mind and body from harmful substances and create a new plan for your life. Contact us at 619-363-4767 to learn more about how we can help you start a path to a new life.
When you were in active addiction, you probably took a lot of chances. Drugs and alcohol help dampen inhibitions and cause people to do some dangerous and not-so-smart things. It’s no surprise that when you get clean and sober, your sense of danger comes back. But you might find yourself feeling fear about things that didn’t scare you when you were getting high. After all, it might feel as if you’re trying new things all the time!
In recovery, avoiding the thing you're afraid of isn’t the answer. Everyone faces challenges, including new fears. The key to making it through things that scare you is not to let fear stand in the way. How can you start to be less scared? First, you must own the fear. Then, you should do the thing you’re afraid of, anyway.
What is Walking Through Fear?
Nobody is a coward because they’re afraid. However, fear can prevent growth and change; two of the most important aspects of recovery from addiction.
Why are you afraid, to begin with? Maybe you’ve been hurt or think relationships are dangerous, so you’re anxious about making new friends. Perhaps you’re worried that you’ll let people down, and then tell yourself that it’s better to “not try” instead. All of these are reasonable.
It’s okay to feel afraid. In fact, it’s important to acknowledge it. Once you’ve admitted it, it’s also essential to challenge fears as well.
How to Confront Fear Head-On
Do the thing you’re afraid of anyway. You can give yourself some coaching before you do it, but ultimately, the only way to confront fear is by walking through it.
You can prepare for the challenge by doing a few things. Ask your sponsor, family, or friends to help you with a pep talk. Ask them what they do when they’re scared. Share at meetings about it. Read success stories online or listen to inspirational music. Take time to meditate or practice mindfulness when you’re feeling afraid. Call somebody on the phone to talk about your fears. Go for a run or regularly walk to help keep your blood pressure calm.
Once you’ve confronted fear a few times, you’ll realize that while some parts of life are scary, others are less scary than you perceived. Walking through fear makes you less afraid. Make sure that you reward yourself – with ice cream, a good book, or a spa night – once you’ve confronted your fear. You’ll find yourself growing stronger and braver every day.
Fear of Getting Clean and Sober?
We’ve helped people from all walks of life forge a path to recovery. You deserve a better way of life! Learn more about getting clean and sober in a supportive, safe environment. Learn more about your treatment options by calling 619-363-4767.
Everyone feels anxiety every once in a while. In recovery, you’ll often feel confronted with something that’s difficult, which can easily make you feel fearful or nervous.
Feeling anxious is a normal state for most people in early recovery. It’s hard to start over, and it may feel like you’re doing many things in life for the first time. It’s normal to feel nervous every once in a while. You also may have some anxiety and mood swings as well as your body adjusts to life without the use of substances. Your body still needs time to adjust to the newer, healthier you.
Getting used to life in recovery may feel challenging, but you’re up for it! You’ll learn new coping skills and with time will walk through the fear on your own. Doing things that you’re scared of will help you feel less scared of other challenges in the future.
If you find that your anxiety is overwhelming or you have panic attacks, it’s important to speak with a therapist, psychiatrist or other mental health professional to help you
Here are some proven ways to help yourself learn to cope with anxiety:
- Act it out: If you’re nervous about certain situations that you’re going to confront in life, such as running into old drinking or using buddies, act out the situations with your sponsor or somebody else you trust. The first time you act it out, play the other person instead of yourself. This will give your counterpart a view of how you see the situation and what you believe will happen. Then reverse roles, playing yourself again. Ask for tips on what to say or do. You can repeat your part multiple times until you feel comfortable.
- Learn how to relax and let go. Relaxation techniques can help you learn to let go of anxiety and live in the moment, appreciating it. There are a lot of different ways to relax available to you, and the Internet is your friend. Look for videos teaching mindfulness, relaxation, and meditation. Your phone’s app store also has a lot of apps to help you with this as well. Videos teaching these are easy to find online. There are also phone apps that can help you relax as well, and more of them are free.
- Do something that you used to love. Everyone has hobbies or other activities they like to do. When you were using alcohol and drugs, you probably stopped doing those things. There’s never a better time to revisit the things you loved to do before you started using alcohol or drugs. Even if these interests go back to your childhood, you may still want to give yourself a chance to resume it. Collect race car toys, learn how to make jewelry, or learn how to make bread. If you don’t have the money to start these hobbies, you can always watch videos about them online for free or check out a book at the library to learn more. If your hobby was listening to music, then you find endless supplies of legal music downloads and streams online.
- Commit to regular exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should get “at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.” This will help regulate your blood pressure, which can play a role in anxiety. Exercise helps release endorphins, a feel-good chemical that helps combat anxiety as well as depression. Take a walk on the side of the beach or to your favorite park. Join a bicycling club. If you’ve never really exercised before, start slow. Try taking a 15-minute walk every day and build up to longer walks.
These are just a few creative ways to help you cope with anxiety. See which ones work for you and don’t feel shy about asking other people in recovery what they do, too, to combat anxiety.
Getting Help for Addiction
Are you or somebody you love currently struggling with addiction? Reclaim your life and start on the road to recovery. In our caring, holistic environment we will help you face the challenges of detoxing your body, mind and spirit from drugs and alcohol. Our programs offer medication-assisted treatment, when appropriate. We’ll help you start a plan for your next steps, including our inpatient recovery program for longer-term treatment. Give us a call at 619-363-4767
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