Dealing with Emotional Issues in Recovery

When in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, it is normal to feel a number of physical symptoms that are associated with your body trying to get back to normal after years of substance abuse. However, it is also normal to experience some mental and emotional issues at this stage, too. The type of symptoms you experience will depend on the kind of substance you were abusing and for how long. It is quite common to experience mood swings during recovery, so do not be surprised if one day you feel on top of the world while the next you are down in the dumps. Below are a few mental health and emotional issues that are common in recovery.

Low Self-Esteem

Many recovering alcoholics or drug addicts feel that they simply do not measure up to those around them. They feel inferior and not as smart, beautiful or funny as everyone else. It is important to realise that this is the nature of the addict; it is not because you actually are inadequate.

Addicts often have unrealistic expectations of themselves, believing that everyone else has these same expectations. They underestimate themselves while at the same time overestimating everyone else. They believe that everyone else is richer, more talented, better looking, happier and smarter than they are.

It is crucial to address these issues during recovery so that you can learn how to love yourself and build your self-respect.

Panic Attacks

Strong feelings of worry, anxiety or fear often signal a panic attack, and many recovering addicts experience these. Those experiencing a panic attack may feel intense mental discomfort while their thoughts run wild. At the same time as the person is going through these unpleasant mental feelings, some physical symptoms can occur as the body launches a defensive response.

A surge of adrenaline can result in a rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure and breathing problems. It is also common for some to experience tremors and nausea while others may become dizzy. If you are experiencing regular panic attacks, you should speak to your counsellor or doctor. In many instances, cognitive behavioural therapy can help to stop them from occurring.

Fear of Failure

One of the more common emotions felt by those in recovery is fear; fear of failure to be more precise. It takes a long time for an addict to admit that he or she has a problem, but once he or she does, the affected individual can begin the process of detoxification and rehabilitation. It is common for them to be afraid of losing it all again.

Recovering addicts may be constantly afraid that everything they are working for will be gone in an instant. It is difficult for them to feel confident about their future because they know how easy it could be to return to alcohol or drugs.

Nevertheless, a little bit of fear is a good thing. If you were not afraid of failure, it might then be easier to slip back into your old ways. As you progress through your recovery, it could be that your fears ease and you start to feel more confident in the fact that there could be a bright future ahead.


Anger is something that most people experience from time to time, and although it can spur some individuals on to do good things, it can also be dangerous in terms of your recovery. If you were to act on your feelings of anger, you might find yourself in danger of returning to substance abuse, so you do need to be extra careful about this emotion and find a way to deal with it effectively.

It is important to find ways to calm yourself down if you are feeling angry. Meditation is an excellent way to help you zone out and find your inner peace.

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