Insight for the Journey: Regaining Normal

Insight for the Journey: Regaining Normal

Out of Control
Addiction is often out of control when the decision is made to enter recovery. Life has become unmanageable, affecting numerous areas. There may be occupational problems, relational conflicts, housing concerns, legal issues, and spiritual dryness. Common emotional problems include increased levels of depression, guilt, shame, regret, anxiety and worry, disappointment and despair. Chronic substance use has likely created a physiological and neurochemical impact. Added to that, chronic sleep disturbance, withdrawal effects, nutritional deficiencies, and dehydration are blending together to create a very unsavory chaos stew.

Residual Effects
This is how most people enter their first days of recovery and there are numerous after-effects. The chaos of addiction lingers after recovery begins. Often, every nerve is on fire, every relationship strained, every thought tainted, and every moment colored by addiction and withdrawal. Just as a car continues forward after the brake is applied, so the damaging momentum of substance use lingers. This aftermath combines physical illness, emotional overreactions, and pessimistic thoughts in a very unpleasant beginning of recovery. Many people experience mental health symptoms, emotional outbursts, irritability, low frustration tolerance, complaining, and a general discomfort.

Regaining Normal
Over time, homeostasis is regained–that is, things begin to look, feel, sound, and taste normal again. Those in recovery begin to have usual experiences, and standard and ordinary reactions to those events. Irritability and over-reaction are beginning to quiet down. Your thoughts are more rational, logical, and better controlled. It takes several weeks sometimes, and the best advice is to simply endure it.

When you accidentally hit your finger with a hammer, shake it off, distract yourself and move on. Staring at it only seems to make it throb even more. In the same manner, during this early recovery period, endure the irritability, resist the urge to stare at the inconveniences of life, and focus on the positive future. If you are going through hell, keep going. Peace and the contentment of recovery are just ahead.

Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the ride!

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