Although you might feel relieved and even excited to recover from addiction, your first months of sobriety may not always include positive feelings. Recovery is a journey that starts on your first day sober. However, early sobriety doesn’t follow a linear path or allow you to enjoy constant distancing from the desire to return to your addiction. This is why preparing for the first week of sobriety and beyond is essential. The more you learn, the better equipped you will be to navigate your own sobriety journey.
Early Sobriety: Having Realistic Expectations
For the point of this article, early sobriety can be best defined as the first few weeks and months after your sobriety period begins. No matter what type of substance you used or whether you recovered outpatient or inpatient, you may encounter several emotional and physical responses post-detox. One of the most frequently reported among those who have reached sobriety is commonly referred to as sobriety fatigue.
Sobriety Fatigue is a natural reaction to the amount of time, energy, and effort you put into breaking free from your addictive behaviors. After all, you’ve focused for a long time on reaching sobriety. You feel satisfied and worn down like an athlete at the end of a grueling season. This cognitive and spiritual wearing down can lead to many outcomes, such as an all-encompassing sense of exhaustion or depression or anxiety.
You must bring up any symptoms of potential sobriety fatigue with your support team and medical providers. Yes, sobriety fatigue is normal. Yet it’s not something you need to “soldier through” alone. Talking therapy can provide insights and perspectives to help carry you through the sobriety fatigue period. Light to moderate exercise, eating healthier foods, and resting your mind and body can all be beneficial.
The good news is that sobriety fatigue doesn’t last forever. Generally speaking, it will start the first week of sobriety and last for around a month. Of course, all people are unique. You might have less or more sobriety fatigue than someone else. Or you might not go through much sobriety fatigue at all. Nonetheless, it’s critical to know that it’s a high possibility so you can recognize it — and acknowledge that it’s not a “forever” situation.
Tips for Getting Through Early Sobriety Ups and Downs
In addition to sobriety fatigue, you will likely deal with many psychological and physiological experiences. For instance, you may crave the substance you are addicted to. You may also become angry or have mood swings and lash out at the people who care most about you. Again, these are common, but you don’t have to feel out of control. Applying the following tips will help you as you progress through your weeks and months of early sobriety.
- Understand your triggers. During your treatment, you should have discussed the triggers that usually led you to use your substance or substances of choice. Remember those triggers and try to remove yourself from them if you sense they’re coming. You may not want to go to restaurants that serve alcohol, for example, because being around other people who are drinking may trigger a relapse in you.
- Engage with people who will motivate and inspire you to stay sober. Sadly, some of the family, friends, and coworkers you used to be around may not be as supportive as they should be now that you’re sober. Make plans to get together with those who will actively help you move forward through early sobriety and sobriety fatigue.
- Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Why are you suddenly feeling sad? Confused? Tired? Frustrated? Sometimes, there’s no good answer. Accept that your feelings may come and go and might not make sense now. Some of these responses can be chemical and psychological and are all part of the first steps of sobriety.
- Remove all substances from your home. Cravings can come on strong during early sobriety. Make sure you have zero easy access to avoid relapsing.
- Expect physical reactions. If you decide to stop “cold turkey” without help, you may have nervous shakes, sweating, insomnia, and other physical symptoms related to withdrawal. Ideally, you should work with a top-notch recovery facility like the Blanchard Institute. Hence, you have access to trained professionals who can assist you in navigating unpleasant but understandable side effects.
Over time, you’ll start to experience fewer and fewer indicators of early sobriety. Though you’ll always have to put effort into your sobriety, you’ll begin to find it easier to live a life free from addiction.
Take a step towards recovery and seek assistance for yourself or a loved one struggling with addiction. Contact the Blanchard Institute to learn more about getting and staying sober.