Early sobriety can be filled with anxiety. Significant changes in your life, routine, friends, and hobbies can all occur at once.
It is normal to feel worried and stressed about what life will be like.
Dealing with so many unknowns without your usual crutch can seem impossible.
Tools to Tackle Anxiety
Having tools to use when waves of anxiety hit can give you new ways of coping with stress in healthy manners.
Understanding that anxiety is likely to occur with early sobriety is one useful tool in itself.
At BriteLife Recovery, we can help you tackle your anxiety symptoms.
Below are some tips for dealing with anxiety when you are sober:
1. Accept that you are anxious.
Sometimes just saying the words “I feel anxious” out loud puts the feeling into a language you can understand. It traps the multitude of physical feelings and wraps them up into one issue. Your heart beating, sweating, feelings of panic, and racing thoughts can feel overwhelming within your mind. Calling these what they are is a significant step. Realize that this is only a feeling and believing it will pass can be enough to regain balance.
2. Turn the feeling into action.
This may be a great time for a walk, writing, or creating art. Transforming feelings into actions is a positive way to channel your energy. Thinking about your steps, words, or art eases your mind from fixating on stressful things.
There are several phone apps you can download and use for guided meditation. Even without a phone, you can meditate anywhere at any time. Closing your eyes and picturing your favorite place for one minute is a simple, effective way to cope with anxiety. Think about the details of that place, the sights, and smells. Focusing your mental energy into something else that is positive is the goal.
4. Talk to someone you trust.
Verbalizing your anxiety and talking about whatever is on your mind can disarm anxious thoughts. Suffering alone with anxiety can increase symptoms. Sometimes just knowing you are not alone is relief in itself.
5. Go to a 12-Step Meeting.
Being in a room with peers who have walked through early recovery and coped with anxiety can be comforting. It also allows you to talk through what is happening and learn from others what worked for them. This does not mean it will always work for you, but it might. Developing relationships and talking through the waves of anxiety are healthy steps that you can use throughout your recovery.
In the middle of anxious moments or full-on panic attacks, one thing that happens is holding your breath. You might not even be aware of it. It is the body’s fight or flight response in action. When your heart races, you may automatically hold your breath. Simply breathing deeply will lower your heart rate and will slow down the moment. It can be done anywhere and anytime.
Understanding Anxiety and Alcohol Recovery
It is estimated that 20% of adults with alcoholism also have an underlying anxiety disorder.
In reality, the number is most likely higher since such an increased number of people with anxiety go undiagnosed. For more information on the link between substance use and anxiety, click here.
For those who have anxiety, using alcohol may be a common method of coping. It may seem more comfortable than going to a doctor, discussing personal issues, or adhering to a treatment regimen. Some feel alcohol is a do-it-yourself approach to addressing social anxiety, family issues, or any stress-provoking issue in life.
It is crucial to have the right coping skills to handle anxiety and alcohol recovery while sober.
This illusion of control can quickly come crashing down in recovery.
Socially Acceptable vs. Healthy Coping
Using alcohol to ease anxious moments is commonly portrayed in the media as well. This is why you should know healthy coping habits to handle anxiety and alcohol recovery.
We often watch characters sip wine before talking to a stranger, or take a long drink when hearing bad news. This is commonly a socially acceptable way of dealing with anxiety.
What is less commonly seen or discussed is utilizing coping mechanisms other than alcohol.
At BriteLife Recovery, we understand the connection between anxiety and alcoholism. We will learn about you and your history with anxiety. If you struggle with alcoholism, we will work with you to develop different coping skills.
Effects of Sobriety and Anxiety
Treating alcoholism and addiction is not the same as treating anxiety. Although related, they have separate diagnoses, and different tools need to be implemented.
Removing alcohol in your life can sometimes unexpectedly uncover an untreated anxiety disorder. With the right coping techniques, you can handle anxiety and alcohol recovery while sober.
Anxiety is a common occurrence in early sobriety. To avoid reaching for alcohol to cope with anxiety, it is crucial to prepare for these feelings.
Going out into life without the learned tools of alcohol can seem like a newborn driving a car. These are normal fears, and building healthy skills for coping with anxiety is an important step for successful long-term recovery.
Mental Illness and Anxiety When Sober
Anxiety is a common mental health issue.
Approximately 20% of the population has anxiety, yet only about 40% of people receive treatment for it.
This gap leaves millions of people without adequate diagnoses or treatment. For more information on anxiety, click here.
Alcoholics and those addicted to drugs often start using substances on their own to deal with the effects of anxiety.
When those are removed, the underlying anxiety disorder can resurface. This is especially true in dealing with the effects of withdrawal and learning to live a new life in sobriety.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are also closely linked, and both together raise the risk for addiction.
Having both an addiction and an underlying mental health issue is referred to as a dual-diagnosis. Treating both at the same time has been proven to be more effective than treating each individually.
At BriteLife Recovery, we look for and treat all causes of addiction and any underlying mental health issues. Improving coping skills and anxiety will give new tools for recovery and stability.
Treatment of Anxiety After Getting Sober
Treating anxiety without using medications or alcohol is not a short process, but it is possible. Learning about addiction, treating underlying issues, and building coping mechanisms are the learned behaviors we teach and support at BriteLife Recovery.
We will work with you to determine your individual goals for treatment and customize treatment to your needs.
We are here to walk through this process with you. It is possible to reduce your anxiety as you enter into sobriety.
You do not have to feel irritation, anxiety, or panic as regular, everyday emotions. We can help you learn how to have the balance, calm, and peacefulness that you deserve.
Do you want treatment but are worried about how you can pay for it?
We have a team of financial professionals who provide free insurance verification. We will work with you to determine how to move forward with treatment in a way that works for you and your financial situation.
How to Get Help
BriteLife Recovery is available to answer questions or discuss options with you. We have a team of professionals who are dedicated to understanding and healing your addiction.
We give hope back to those who are searching for recovery and stability.