Why Is Controlling My Emotions So Important in Rehab?

Why Is Controlling My Emotions So Important in Rehab?

Learning to control your emotions is one of the most important facets of a successful recovery

Learning to control your emotions is one of the most important facets of a successful recovery, and yet it is often very difficult to effectively navigate this challenge. Indeed, it is not an overstatement to say that the ability to manage one’s emotional life might be the single best predictor of whether an individual will achieve long-term recovery or relapse into drug addiction. If you are struggling with an addiction to a prescription drug like oxycodone, learn how you can effectively manage your emotions and achieve long-term recovery.

Understanding the Relapse Process

Addiction researchers have identified 11 steps in the relapse process, and each of these steps is directly related to the emotions and thought processes of an individual in recovery.

  1. Change in attitude – Recovery is no longer seen as necessary, often due to a stressful life event
  2. Elevated stress – The recovering addict begins to have an increased tendency to overreact to events in life
  3. Denial of stressors – Recovering addict denies the impact of stress or refuses to discuss the source or the stress and how to more positively respond to it
  4. Reappearance of withdrawal symptoms – Increased stress leads to symptoms, which in turn, may lead to self-medication to manage the stress
  5. Behavior changes – Shifts in daily routines or general attitudes toward life and events
  6. Social changes – Individuals may withdraw from family members or stop interacting with sober friends.
  7. Increased inconsistency in routine – Missing meals, sleeping at odd hours, or failing to maintain a basic routine and fulfill obligations
  8. Indecision – The addict will struggle with the decision-making process, begin to make increasingly and uncharacteristically unwise choices, and may appear to be numb emotionally
  9. Loss of control – Individuals begin making irrational choices and seem to have an inability to interrupt or alter their behavior
  10. Loss of options – Individuals will be overwhelmed, stressed and believe their only choices are resuming drug use or emotional and physical collapse
  11. Relapse – Substance use is resumed

A close review of these eleven steps makes it clear that emotions are the core of the relapse process. An individual simply must be able to manage stress or he will be at great risk of relapse.

Strategies to Handle Stress and Emotionality

There are a series of healthy options to manage emotions. Some of these options will prove to be more or less effective for a particular person, but all have been proven to be helpful.

  • Envision positive outcomes – Stress is often predicated on an assumption of failure. Negative thoughts about your ability to stay sober can bombard your mind. If you allow these thoughts room in your mind, your emotions will be activated. Instead, choose to reject these negative thoughts and make an assumption of success. Tell yourself that all the tools you learned in rehab and treatment will help you stay sober, that you are strong enough to resist any craving, and that you can reach out for support whenever you need it.
  • Practice meditation – Meditation is not necessarily a religious exercise, though it can be associated with both eastern and western religions. Meditation helps you to be more present and focused and gives you greater perspective about stressful situations. Meditation will also bring a lower heart rate and a settled mind.
  • Develop an exercise regimen – Exercise produces and releases adrenaline and endorphins, which are also associated with the stress response. By giving your body a natural outlet for the release of chemicals, you will experience a natural release of stress.
  • Choose to smile and laugh – Watch a favorite comedy. Catch a great comic on YouTube, Netflix or Comedy Central. Surround yourself with positive people and activities that make you smile.
  • Find “safe people” to share negative emotions with – There are times that what you really need is someone to talk to about the source of your emotions. Make it a priority to find nonjudgmental people who will listen, and provide you reasonable and seasoned advice when you ask for it.

To a recovering addict in rehab, having any sense of emotional control may seem impossible. Returning to the addiction may even feel like the right choice, because your drug will allow you to manage your emotions better. Painful and negative emotions will tell you that it is just too hard to push through rehab and recovery, and that no strategy will be successful in restoring sobriety to your life. But understanding the value of managing your emotions, and applying the strategies listed above, will allow you to achieve long-term recovery.

Find Addiction Rehab Help Today

If you are struggling with an addiction to a drug like oxycodone, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admission counselors at our toll-free helpline are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions about addiction and connect you with the addiction recovery resources that are right for you.