As anyone in recovery can attest, getting and staying sober is not a straight line. Instead, there are ups and downs and many stumbling blocks along the way. While it won’t be easy, knowing what to expect can make recovery a little easier to navigate.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has created some great tools to help paint a better picture of some of the stumbling blocks to expect in recovery. They also offer some practical steps so these stumbling blocks don’t detour you from achieving your goal of lasting sobriety.
The definition of a stumbling block is “an obstacle to progress.” With this definition in mind, the many stumbling blocks of recovery include your thinking patterns, emotions, triggers and cravings and even your appearance. As you begin to look and feel better, you need to be vigilant about reminding yourself why you’ve committed to the hard work of recovery and why it’s okay to have one day when you feel like conquering the world and the next like hiding from it.
Do These Stumbling Blocks Sound Familiar?
Here’s a closer look at a few challenges you may encounter in recovery and how you can gracefully turn these stumbling blocks into stepping stones, according to SAMHSA.
- Your thinking patterns. Don’t be surprised if along the road to sobriety, you begin to think about the “good times” you had during active addiction or even begin to question whether you really have a substance use disorder. The mind is powerful and it’s up to you to drive your thoughts in a healthy direction. This might mean avoiding listening to or telling stories about the “fun” of drinking or drugging, reminding yourself of the pain and hurt (to yourself and others) caused by your addiction, practicing gratitude for chance at sobriety and attending support groups to be reminded about the sneaky nature of addiction.
- Your appearance. Did you ever hear of the “looking good” trap? This is what SAMHSA calls the period during recovery when your outward appearance (brighter eyes, better skin, for example) seems to bounce back faster than your ability to stay sober. Don’t let the mirror fool you, SAMHSA warns. Remind yourself that recovery is a process that involves physical, mental and spiritual healing – all things that take time.
- Your triggers and cravings. It’s pretty common for a craving to suddenly come back after three or six months and then quickly fade again, notes SAMHSA. In addition to cravings, you’ll be dealing with triggers. Your best defense: Identify and understand any triggers that make you want to use again – and have a list of people you can contact if you’re thinking about drinking or using again.
- Your emotions. Shame, guilt, anger, loneliness, depression, anxiety – these are just a few of the many emotions that can derail your recovery if you don’t get help. If you’re not careful, these negative emotions can cause you to withdraw from friends and family and stop you from reaching your full potential. In order to ensure a successful recovery and prevent relapse, you need to care for your mental and emotional health. And this is especially true if you’re struggling with a co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder.
You’re Not Alone on the Bumpy Road
Segue Recovery Support offers recovery services to keep clients engaged after primary treatment, and our Recovery Support Specialists can connect you with counseling services that can help you turn any stumbling blocks into stepping stones for recovery. For information, contact us at 866-905-4550.