5 Reasons Addicts Struggle During Early Recovery

Do you know someone who is newly sober?

They’re likely working their way through the back end of the five stages of recovery at the moment. Despite all that they’ve accomplished so far, their journey towards recovery is still far from over.

In fact, you could argue that a person who just started to settle into sobriety is at one of the toughest stages of all. The early recovery process can push people to the brink and send many of them running right back to their old bad habits in no time.

It’s no wonder why somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of addicts end up relapsing at some point. Here are five reasons why most addicts struggle during early recovery.


1. Still Surrounded by Other Addicts

Once someone has lived a sober life for a few months or, better yet, a few years, they won’t be around people who use drugs or alcohol on a regular basis anymore.

During early recovery, it’s not uncommon for addicts to be around people that they used to use drugs and alcohol with. These people might be close friends and even family members.

This can be, as you might imagine, a recipe for disaster. It’ll make it easy for a recovering addict to face temptation day in and day out.

The best way for an addict to avoid temptation is to cut off all ties with those addicts they used to know. They should also steer clear of hanging out in places where people use drugs and alcohol out in the open.

It’s not always easy for recovering addicts to cut people they used to know out of their lives. But it’s usually what’s best for them, especially since they’re still in a very fragile state of mind.

2. Not Sure What to Do With Their Time

One of the first things that recovering addicts will notice during early recovery is how much extra time they have on their hands.

Addicts usually don’t notice, but addiction can take up almost all a person’s time. Recovery leaves them with more time than they know what to do with while trying to recover.

The key to combatting this is finding something to fill all the extra time. Believe it or not, dealing with boredom is one of the biggest challenges of battling addiction.

Addicts can fill time during early recovery by:

  • Starting up an exercise plan
  • Spending time with supportive family members
  • Attending addiction support group meetings
  • Picking up a new hobby
  • And more

By staying busy, a recovering addict can prevent boredom from getting the best of them. They can continue making the right moves in life and resist the urge to go back to using drugs or alcohol.


3. Feeling a Wide Range of Emotions

When you use drugs or alcohol on a consistent basis, they can numb you and prevent you from feeling any emotions. That’s part of the reason why so many people struggle to stop using them.

Once you stop using drugs or alcohol, you’ll usually feel a rush of emotions every day that could make it difficult for you to function. At different points, you’ll feel:

  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Grateful
  • Irritated
  • Calm
  • Frustrated

One minute, an addict will feel hopeful about the future and looking forward to finding a job and getting on with their life. The next, they’ll feel discouraged about their recovery process and ready to start using drugs and alcohol again.

Processing and managing these emotions during early recovery is of the utmost importance. Many recovering addicts lean on support groups, sponsors, therapists, and friends and family members for assistance.


4. Struggling to Sleep at Night

Some recovering addicts haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep in years. They have no problem falling asleep at night and sleeping through the night when they’re going through early recovery.

But the majority have issues when it comes to getting enough sleep. Some turn into insomniacs when they first start trying to recover from addiction.

When a person feels exhausted and can’t sleep, it’s easy for their mind to wander and for them to contemplate using drugs or alcohol to sleep. They might even rationalize going back to their addiction due to their sleep problems.

To get back into a normal sleep pattern, people need to turn to things like exercise and meditation instead. They can put them back into the right frame of mind to start sleeping well again.


5. Stressing Out Over Guilt and Shame

As a recovering addict starts to pick up the pieces of their life, it’s easy for them to feel guilt and shame over all the troubles they’ve caused.

Many addicts have fractured relationships with friends and family members. They’ve also committed crimes and done other bad things to help fuel their addiction.

That guilt and shame will start to subside over time when an addict receives the right treatment. During early recovery, however, the guilt and shame can be too much for some recovering addicts to take.

They’ll often start using drugs or alcohol again to make the guilt and shame go away for a little while.


How to Make It Through Early Recovery Successfully

The road to recovery is long and, at times, bumpy for those recovering from addiction. There are going to be hiccups along the way, especially during early recovery.

Recovering addicts can make it through the process if they acknowledge the pitfalls that plague them and work to avoid them. Those surrounding recovering addicts can also do their part to provide them with the support they’ll need to stay on track.

If you know someone who is struggling to stay sober, there are affordable treatment programs that can help. There are also tips you can learn to help the addict in your life with their addiction battle.

Read our blog to learn some of these tips so you can put them into practice.


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