The first few months of sobriety are often the most difficult especially for addicts that have engaged in substance abuse for much of their life. Detoxing can be physically very painful and mentally stressful in a way that can make addicts truly suffer if they do not have any coping strategies to help get through the process.
The early phases of sobriety involve a lot of withdrawal symptoms that make it hard to focus on the journey of recovery. With the right coping skills it is possible for an addict to get through the most difficult moments of detox and withdrawal without giving in to their urges to use again. These are some helpful skills in coping with early sobriety.
1. Distracting Activities
Hobbies and activities are necessary tools to have when dealing with the type of withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings that accompany the early stages of sobriety. You need to have a list of distracting activities that you enjoy that will effectively keep your mind off of any urges or cravings to use drugs or alcohol.
When your mind becomes absorbed in something else most of the thoughts about substance abuse tend to fade away. Hobbies should be something positive that you are passionate about and an activity that you know will help you forget about your cravings.
2. Exercise and Focus on Health
Physical health is something that can deteriorate as an addiction progresses. People in recovery might also be dealing with health problems in addition to their emotional issues after years of abuse. Focusing on healthy eating and exercising can be a positive way to reduce cravings and stabilize your mood.
Regular exercise helps release tension from the body so that you experience less physical pain and anxiety while boosting your mood. Healthy eating can also improve any physical ailments associated with withdrawal and keep emotions more balanced in order to lessen cravings.
3. Meditation and Relaxation
Withdrawal symptoms and cravings can create a lot of stress and tension that can make an addict’s situation worse. It is important to develop a habit of using relaxation tools on a regular basis to prevent stress from building up to a dangerous level.
Meditation can be a useful tool in creating a clear mind and a sense of being calm, peaceful and relaxed both mentally and physically. Mindful meditation can help you become more aware of how often your thoughts turn to certain patterns and you can learn to redirect your mind to the present moment instead of being lost in negative thoughts.
4. Confront Urges
While finding distracting activities can be one method of fighting cravings, another strategy can involve facing the urge to drink or use head on. This is sometimes called “urge surfing” as a craving can be seen as a kind of wave that builds and then dissipates.
An addict can go with the force of the craving without actually giving in to it and wait for it to pass. It is another way to be completely aware and mindful as the feeling occurs without acting on it.
5. Working and Volunteering
A good physical coping skill in recovery is to stay busy and active in more than just hobbies but also meaningful work. Focusing on a new job or becoming involved in volunteer work can help you feel productive and give you a sense of contributing to something bigger than yourself.
You will be less likely to experience cravings or physical pain and stress when you are busy and involved in something that provides you with a sense of personal growth.