Five challenges and options for early recovery

Early recovery is a delicate time; someone in early recovery must go through several biological, social, and psycho-emotional changes that can be difficult to handle.  Below, I’ve listed five (5) common challenges and some options for dealing with them*:

  1. Friends and associates who use: You want to continue associations with old friends or friends who use.
    1. Try to make new friends at 12-Step or mutual-help meetings.
    2. Participate in new activities or hobbies that will increase your chances of meeting abstinent people.
    3. Plan activities with abstinent friends or family members.
  1. Anger, irritability: Small events can create feelings of anger that seem to preoccupy your thoughts and can lead to relapse.
    1. Remind yourself that recovery involves a healing of brain chemistry. Strong, unpredictable emotions are a natural part of recovery.
    2. Engage in exercise.
    3. Talk to a counselor or a supportive friend.
  1. Substances in the home: You have decided to stop using, but others in your house may still be using.
    1. Get rid of all drugs and alcohol.
    2. Ask others to refrain from using and drinking at home.
    3. If you continue to have a problem, think about moving out for a while.
  1. Boredom, loneliness: Stopping substance use often means that activities you did for fun and the people with whom you did them must be avoided.
    1. Put new activities in your schedule.
    2. Go back to activities you enjoyed before your addiction took over.
    3. Develop new friends at 12-Step or mutual-help meetings.
  1. Special occasions: Parties, dinners, business meetings, and holidays without substance use can be difficult.
    1. Have a plan for answering questions about not using substances. Start your own abstinent celebrations and traditions.
    2. Have your own transportation to and from events.
    3. Leave if you get uncomfortable or start feeling deprived

*Taken from: Client Handbook: Matrix Intensive Outpatient Treatment for People with Stimulant Use Disorders

  1. Number #2 & 4 are important to know for family members of those addicted. Open dialogue with the addict & his/her family on all of these challenges can make a big difference in recovery.