Addiction is a compulsion to use mind-altering substances in spite of negative consequences. The path to recovery starts with awareness that there is a problem and that something has to be done. Recovery gives you the opportunity to have a better life and make healthier choices, but at times it may feel like one of the hardest things you have ever done.
The journey of recovery is different for each individual. The decision to begin the recovery process takes courage and commitment, and it isn’t always smooth sailing. Some aspects of recovery are painful and some are downright scary.
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The Discomfort of Withdrawal
Recovery begins with getting all mind-altering substances such as drugs or alcohol out of your system through detoxification. The intensity of your withdrawal symptoms will depend on what substance or substances you have been using and how deep your physical or psychological dependence has grown. Going through withdrawal can be very unpleasant, and withdrawing from certain substances such as alcohol can be very dangerous unless you are under medical supervision.
Some of the symptoms you may experience during withdrawal include:
In an inpatient detoxification facility, you will be under the care of medical professionals to keep you safe and as comfortable as possible during detoxification.
The Intensity of Feelings
During recovery, particularly early recovery, you may experience extremely intense feelings. Since you have been numbing your feelings and escaping from reality using substances, you may have forgotten how intense feelings can get.
Many people describe early recovery as riding a rollercoaster emotionally. One day you may feel excited and happy at the possibilities ahead of you and the next you may be sobbing uncontrollably or feeling afraid to face day-to-day life. Strong feelings won’t kill you, but they may make you feel like turning back to substances in order to numb your feelings.
In recovery, you will learn new coping skills and tools that can help you deal with uncomfortable feelings. Having a support network gives you a way to talk about your feelings rather than running from them.
Not all of the scariest parts of addiction recovery happen at the very beginning of recovery. While you will probably experience cravings early in your recovery journey, you may be surprised to find that cravings can come back when you least expect them, months or even years into your recovery. When you experience cravings, it can be very hard to think about anything except the urge to use, and this can lead to a relapse if you’re not prepared.
In recovery, you will learn from others what to do when this happens. Learning to recognize what people, places or things trigger the urge to use can help you to be prepared when you experience cravings. Getting in the habit of reaching out to others by calling people or attending support groups can help you get to the other side of cravings.
Why Addiction Recovery Can Be Difficult and Scary
Addiction doesn’t happen instantly. It usually develops over the course of weeks, months and sometimes years. Likewise, recovery doesn’t happen instantly. You have developed a habit of trying to escape from difficult feelings rather than facing them. Relearning how to face and deal with life’s challenges takes time and practice.
The good news is that the journey of recovery isn’t something that you have to face alone. You will find that there are many people who have walked a similar self-destructive path and have found a way to recover and accept life on life’s terms. When you make a decision to give up mind-altering substances, you can learn to face the part of recovery that is scary and difficult with the help of others. Once you do that, it’s possible to become free of the compulsion to rely on substances and learn to truly enjoy life.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please call us at (866) 339-3544 or submit the form below to learn more about our addiction treatment programs in Los Angeles.