Why Is Controlling My Emotions So Important in Rehab?

Why Is Controlling My Emotions So Important in Rehab?

Remaining emotionally stable during rehab is an important part of the recovery process

Learning to control emotions is an important part of the addiction recovery process, because it helps people avoid relapse. Emotions are unpredictable, so sudden mood swings and highly emotional reactions to daily problems can cause setbacks in treatment. However, replacing unhealthy responses to problems with new ones helps recovering addicts move forward with their treatment rather than stay stagnant or revert to drug abuse. In other words, controlling emotions and converting the effort to do so into positive, healing energy helps people move forward on their recovery journeys.

Emotion Basics for Recovering Addicts

Emotions are a part of everyone’s psychological makeup, and recognizing your own emotional patterns can explain your tendency toward addiction. Kimerer LaMothe Ph.D for Psychology Today suggests that emotional habits are important keys to addiction, because they creep up on people until almost everything in life triggers the same responses of fear, grief or anger. When emotions become overwhelming, people seek relief in any way they can find it, which may mean abusing drugs or alcohol. To change the way you respond to emotions is part of the process of addiction recovery: by channeling negative energy away from substance abuse, people in rehab can see other possibilities. In other words, they train their emotions toward new responses that eventually result in behavior changes.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry (http://www.asam.org/for-the-public/definition-of-addiction). Addiction is characterized by the inability to stop using drugs in spite of the consequences, so it often involves cycles of treatment, relapse and remission, but keeping control of emotions can increase the likelihood of treatment success. Train your emotions to change your behavior, but you must seek help to accomplish this task. Emotions are centered in the brain, a complex organ. Emotional responses create new brain pathways that become increasingly difficult to change over time—in other words, the more someone makes choices, the easier those choices become. Ergo, only with consistent repetition will true change occur, because addicts have trained their brains to need drugs. When the brain can no longer function without the drug, addiction forms, so users need drugs to feel and function normally. The brain gets caught in a cycle that is difficult to break, particularly because withdrawal symptoms trigger extreme emotion, so the desire to use drugs in response is overwhelming. The key to recovery is breaking the cycle of using drugs to handle emotions.

Emotions and Addiction Recovery

When someone enters drug or alcohol treatment, a diagnosis is necessary to determine the cause of her addiction. Often, an underlying mental illness contributes to the problem, because such problems cause instability in emotional wellbeing. Family history and genetics can affect mental illness and chemical changes in the brain, but, with the right medications and behavioral therapy, someone with addiction and a mental illness can lead a drug-free life. If mental illness is not a part of the equation, emotions may still contribute to addiction. Once a diagnosis is reached, treatment plans usually include both individual and group therapy. Individual therapy helps addicts recognize the emotions that contribute to drug abuse. Once these emotional responses are identified, therapists help patients turn unhealthy responses into positive ones.

Once treatment in rehab ends, stay connected to others in similar circumstances, as this act is vital to treatment success. Your team of doctors, therapists and social workers from rehab will help you find an ongoing support group that is right for you. Meeting regularly with others in recovery can provide the emotional support you need to stay drug free. Continuing in therapy is also important as you practice the skills you learned in rehab. Regular visits to your therapist can help you control your emotions as you continue your recovery journey.

Find Help for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Emotional responses to life’s challenges are normal, but getting control of those emotions is a vital step in addiction recovery. Understand how emotions impact your decisions to change your drug-seeking behaviors into positive, life-changing action. If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, we are here to help you. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.