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Balancing Nervousness and Excitement about Recovery

Balancing Nervousness and Excitement about Recovery

Mindful self-awareness trains the brain to think positively, which generates self-esteem and confidence

Living in addiction is like driving through fog: every aspect of life—from relationships to careers, finances and health—gets thrown into chaos. As a result, getting sober means transitioning out of this numb existence to wake up to life, choices and the hope of a fresh start. This chance for recovery is great news, so it may come as a surprise to know that even positive changes can be stressful—possibly even a threat to your newly found recovery. Once you commit to getting treatment, you sign up to face life head-on. For many San Diego residents, this task seems just as overwhelming and scary as thrilling and full of potential. However, the key to staying sober throughout these expected highs and lows is to find balance in life and to stay centered on recovery.

Excitement and Jitters: Danger Ahead

People in recovery circles often speak of “dialing down to a five,” which means that, instead of feeling down in the dumps or extremely excited, they aim to find a sweet spot in the middle. The reason for this goal is simple: elevated emotional states—even positive ones—jeopardize sobriety. For this reason, most treatment centers and 12-Step groups warn against dating within the first twelve months of recovery: the intensity of dating can put San Diego residents in emotional situations that involve high risks. Even good relationships create stress, and even positive stress caused by falling in love can increase vulnerability to drug use.

On the other hand, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that negative pressure is even more dangerous, as it is a common and powerful relapse trigger. In fact, the tension surrounding negative emotions is even more toxic to sobriety. Research supported by the National Institute of Health shows that situations of interpersonal conflict and negative emotions trigger more than 50 percent of relapses.

Additionally, the link between stress and substance abuse is well established. Stress increases levels of the corticotrophin-releasing factor, a hormone that catalyzes biological responses such as increased heart rate and metabolism. It also activates the amygdala, the region of the brain that regulates fight-or-flight responses. When the amygdala perceives threats, it floods the body with CRF, which boosts people to escape danger; unfortunately, this hormone also diminishes rational thinking, and a momentary lapse in judgment can be costly for San Diego’s recovering addicts. Poor judgment at any time can weaken recovery and sometimes even lead to relapse.

Getting Centered: Mindfulness Meditation

One proven way to be calm and to mitigate the adverse effects of excitement is through meditation. One particular form of meditation is Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, which is grounded in science and backed by extensive research that proves its efficacy. Described by its founder, Jon Kabat-Zinn, as the practice of “bringing awareness to the present moment with curiosity and non-judgment,” mindfulness helps people connect with their experiences more fully. Instead of ruminating on the past or peering anxiously into the future, mindfulness teaches people how to inhabit the present moment deeply. For people in early recovery who struggle with feelings of discomfort, this skill can be particularly useful, because, instead of trying to avoid negative emotions, individuals learn to sit quietly with them to observe how they affect their bodies, thoughts and feelings. With such understanding, San Diego’s recovering addicts can control their reactions to problems.

The following therapeutic approaches to mindfulness are common in professional treatment centers:

  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program
  • Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention

Mindful self-awareness is a coping skill with transformative benefits. This method trains the brain to think positively, which generates self-esteem and confidence. Ergo, healthy responses become automatic. Also, in response to self-awareness, one can deepen her spirituality, a quality that safeguards against relapse according to an article published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs .

Resourcing: Another Cure to Keep You Calm

“Resourcing” is a term used in recovery circles that is synonymous with self-soothing. When San Diego residents trigger positive experiences by engaging relaxation responses, then they are resourcing. For example, consider feeling your body connect with a chair: using your body as a resource and grounding yourself in the seat of a chair, you plant your feet firmly on the ground. If you work to feel yourself sitting, then you can ground yourself in reality rather than the stressful web of negative thoughts or emotions. Another practical way to get grounded is to find a small, smooth stone and keep it in your pocket or purse. When you begin to feel panic-stricken or detached, grab hold of your rock and rub it between your fingers. Holding onto a small, solid object can help you stay in the present moment as you transfer your stress to a tangible object. Sipping warm herbal tea can also help calm nerves. Herbs in tea often have natural calming effects and can relieve stress.

Help San Diego Drug Addicts

If you or a San Diego loved one struggles with addiction, then reach out for help. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can guide you and your family to wellness, so do not go it alone when assistance is just one phone call away.