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How to Manage Emotions in Sobriety

young woman sipping coffee while looking out window and wondering how to manage emotions in sobriety

Addiction is an emotional disease. You may have turned to drugs or alcohol to escape your emotions. You may have found your feelings too painful or difficult to handle. Substances promised an easy escape. However, that escape ended up causing more emotional problems than it solved. Drugs didn’t make your life any better. They didn’t erase any emotions, and even if they buried them at first, they stopped doing so a long time ago. 

Sobriety is as emotional as addiction, but sober emotions are productive. They help you express yourself, process your experiences, and move forward. Substance use only takes you backward. Sobriety isn’t about erasing emotions, as that is something no one can do. Sobriety involves learning to manage your emotions and to grow and become stronger as a result.

At Michael’s House, managing emotions in sobriety is a critical component of long-term recovery. Through our evidence-based programs, individualized treatment plans, and holistic approach to healing, we provide the tools to understand your emotions better and how to navigate them in healthy ways. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, anger, or other emotions, reach out to us at 760.548.4032 to learn more about emotions in sobriety and details about how a sober living program could help your recovery.

How Emotions Lead to Drug Addiction

Substance use is often the result of difficult emotions. Maybe you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, going through significant life changes, or dealing with physical health issues. Or perhaps you just don’t know how to deal with your day-to-day feelings. It’s okay not to have all the answers when managing mental health issues.

Struggling with addiction is complex, and you may often feel like you can’t cope with the challenges in your life. However, drug use is never the right answer. Treatment options are available to help teach emotional regulation skills so that you can learn how to process thoughts and feelings healthily.

Managing Your Emotions in Recovery

Managing emotions begins with learning how to do so. As mentioned above, treatment exists for just this reason. Therapists help you recognize unhealthy responses to feelings or situations. They help you develop positive processing and coping methods. This doesn’t mean you get to avoid emotions in recovery. 

Managing emotions means learning to experience, accept, move forward, and feel better. Treatment typically first teaches you distraction techniques. Distraction is not a permanent solution for emotions, but it helps you pause before processing them. This puts time and space between you and potentially triggers thoughts or situations. Delaying emotions allows you to take power out of them. It enables you to keep emotions manageable and avoid impulsive reactions such as reaching for a former drug of choice. 

How Treatment Assists with Managing Your Emotions

Treatment helps you develop an array of distraction techniques that could work for you. This gives you time and space to avoid relapse and manage your emotions rather than react to them. Some methods for immediately managing emotions include physical activity, listening to music, or watching a show. You can call a friend or therapist and talk about how you feel or talk about anything but that. 

Consider doing the opposite of what you feel, such as forgiving someone angry or telling a joke if you feel sad. Distraction and delaying are good ways to manage emotions and maintain sobriety. Avoidance is not. Distraction works so that you can reexamine feelings when they are less powerful and when you are more in control of your thoughts and behaviors.

At this later time, you can acknowledge how you feel or felt. You can feel embarrassed, cheated, lonely, or even happy. Once you recognize your emotions, you can do many things to keep them from taking over your life. Notice the thoughts that go along with these emotions. If they are negative, challenge them with something more positive. Tell yourself that your feelings will come and go and that feelings are a normal part of life. The more aware you are of your emotions, the better you can experience them, let them go, and move forward. You can remove their influence and keep your sobriety.

Benefits of Managing Emotions in Recovery

One of the benefits of managing emotions in recovery is that it can help to prevent relapse. When people are in recovery, they are often working to overcome difficult emotions, such as sadness, anger, and anxiety. If these emotions are not managed properly, they can lead to relapse. However, by learning how to deal with emotions effectively, people in recovery can reduce their risk of relapse and live happier, healthier lives. Some other distinctive benefits of managing emotions in recovery include:

  • Increased self-confidence and self-awareness – When emotions are appropriately managed, it can bring about higher confidence and self-awareness. This can help people in recovery feel more empowered to take on new challenges, deal with difficult emotions, and maintain their sobriety.
  • Better mental health – By managing emotions effectively, people in recovery can improve their mental and physical well-being. This can help them reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and avoid other negative emotions that may lead to relapse.
  • Improved relationships – When people learn how to manage emotions effectively, it can positively impact their relationships with others. Whether you are managing emotions in a romantic relationship or with friends and family, having the tools to deal with emotions effectively can help you maintain better relationships.

If you want to improve your ability to manage emotions in recovery, many resources available can help. Many treatment programs include therapy sessions designed to help people learn how to handle emotions effectively.

Understanding Your Emotions in Sobriety at Michael’s House

Understanding your emotions in sobriety can be one of the most important aspects of maintaining your recovery. At Michael’s House, our individualized treatment plans are designed to help you develop greater self-awareness and better-coping skills for managing emotions in sobriety. With a combination of evidence-based therapies, holistic treatments, and 12-step support, we can help you find the tools and strategies you need to succeed in long-term sobriety. To learn more about our programs and how to manage emotions in sobriety, contact us today at 760.548.4032.