Recovery from addiction involves a process. The transition from active addiction to sobriety doesn’t happen overnight. The person in recovery shouldn’t expect that life will instantly change when he or she stops using or drinking. The reality is that most addicts go through stages of sobriety. Some of these stages bring insight and others bring despair.
For individuals in recovery, it’s important to know that millions of others have successfully transitioned from addiction to sobriety. It’s possible to maintain sobriety and create a new life. You have the ability to accomplish the same. Support throughout the phases of sobriety can help you imagine and built the life you want after addiction.
Stage One: Withdrawal
If you abuse alcohol or drugs over a period of time, your body is dependent on these substances. After you decide to stop drinking or using drugs, your body goes through a period of withdrawal. In this stage, your brain and body are starving for the substances you’ve used. Your cravings to use drugs or drink alcohol are high during the withdrawal period. You’ll experience wide emotional swings as well.
After alcohol or drugs are gone from your system, your central nervous system and neurotransmitters will misfire. One or more of your organs might go into a sort of shock. You need medical support during withdrawal for that reason.
Know that your body can heal itself but it will take time for your body to heal and function as it should. Withdrawal and detoxification can span several weeks. Your doctor will prescribe drugs to help ease the withdrawal symptoms as well as meditation, exercise, and nutrient supplements.
It’s potentially dangerous to go through withdrawal alone. Consult an addiction specialist and consider a medical detox program before you begin. These are your safest options.
Stage Two: A Second Chance (Pink Cloud)
Most addicts say that the detox stage is very difficult. After the first few weeks of sobriety, he or she feels a sense of hope about the future. Some refer to the second stage of sobriety as their “second chance.” If the treatment program they’ve chosen addresses the addict’s body, mind, and spirit, he or she realizes there’s finally a way out of the cycle of misery. It’s exciting to feel alive.
Some call this stage of recovery the pink cloud. Almost all addicts experience a sense of renewal at this point. Experts refer to this stage of recovery as a type of mania. The addict must learn to expect highs and lows and to establish realistic expectations for the future.
Everyone experiences life stresses. During treatment, the addict must expect that the desire to drink or use drugs will happen again. Without the ability to manage manic highs and depressive lows, it’s quite easy for many addicts to relapse after treatment.
The second stage of sobriety is powerful. You may feel cured. You may believe you don’t need treatment and that meetings with your addiction counselor are a waste of time. You might start to feel disappointed with your surroundings and life in the real world. It’s common to experience depression throughout the addiction recovery process.
Holistic Rehab Centers knows it’s important for the recovering individual to do too much, too soon. He or she might decide to change careers or move to a new place to start all over again. Before implementing major life decisions, it’s best to avoid adding new stresses for six months to a year. Take small steps with the expectation of staying sober.
Dealing with stage two is difficult without learning new coping skills and tools. Recovering addicts must learn these skills at a program that treats body, mind, and spirit.
Stage Three: Post-Acute Withdrawal (PAWS)
If the addict has been sober for at least several weeks, he or she may experience uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal a second time around. Post-withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) may occur as the addict recovers from drinking alcohol or taking opiates, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and other substances.
Mood swings, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, lethargy, and poor concentration of common symptoms during this stage of sobriety.
Some recovering addicts experience PAWS symptoms for up to two years. Patience and preparation for these symptoms are necessary to continue to full emotional sobriety.
Stage Four: Emotional Sobriety
The first two years of recovery are challenging. When you’ve successfully maintained physical sobriety for at least two years, you’re ready to focus energy on achieving emotional sobriety. At this stage, you’re living in the moment. You’re comfortable with reality. You don’t worry about the future or regret what happened in the past. You don’t suffer from intense mood swings. You’re positive about the future.
Life is stressful. Staying physically and emotionally sober is difficult. All people, even emotionally sober and mature individuals, experience disappointment or sadness sometimes. Continue to work with aftercare support and reach out to your support network. Recovery involves a process. Each sober day is a successful day.