Emotions in Recovery

When suffering from an active addiction, we have a tendency to numb the natural emotions that our body needs to express. We do this for a number of reasons- because we’re nervous, we want to avoid a situation, or are scared to accept reality. In early recovery, your feelings and emotions will be a roller coaster ride. Recovery is like day and night; while you will feel excited about being healthy, you will also be stressed about coping without substances. You may be nervous reading this- thinking that you are alone in your thoughts and feelings. The truth is; these are normal reactions to detoxing. You will have euphoric bursts and sorrowful downs. Here are some of the most common emotions you will experience and how to address them:

  • Happiness: The feeling we try to achieve every day, all day, 24/7. This feeling can be simply achieved by waking up with a smile on our face and taking in the natural sunlight. The more of an effort you make to remain positive, the easier it will be to become content. Being genuinely happy promotes a greater sense of self-confidence and will motivate you to achieve your goals in a timely fashion. By experiencing joy, you will be more satisfied with your accomplishments and think that you are worthwhile, and our brain is wired to connect to others best through joy so you will be helping to move through that social anxiety many of us feel.
  • Sadness: In reality, no one wants to experience this feeling, yet it is unavoidable. We tend to experience sadness if there is either pain or loss involved- it is a normal human emotion. Throughout this time, your body will undergo many changes, including an adjustment in temperature, appetite, and stress. While in recovery, this is one of the most common emotions that cause a relapse. That being said, sadness should be addressed. Unless you have been sober for nearly 100 years, seek support. Whether it’s talking to a counsellor or joining a support group, accept help and open yourself up to new possibilities. It’s ok to not be ok- it teaches us lessons and establishes future goals. Learning to accept and move through sadness is one of the gifts of recovery and one of its most necessary skills.
  • Anger: The blow-up emotion that can sabotage a lot of things in our life. Being angry can cause us to say things we don’t mean. We might shut down, become aggressive, and not only hurt ourselves, but others as well. Like sadness, we need to understand that this is a normal feeling! People are going to have a build-up of negative feelings that must be expressed somehow. For this reason, we need to reach out to our support system. Talking it out will release pessimistic energy about any addiction-related issues which in turn will promote a healthier outlook.
  • Nervousness: Also known as the butterfly emotion, nervousness usually affects us at the worst times. Being fresh out of treatment and in active recovery, there will be many new situations that will make you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. Fear not! We have all been in the“newcomer”phase. The belly knots can be caused by many different situations and some people deal with it better than others. For instance, those with anxiety do not appreciate nerve-wrecking situations. In recovery, it is important to adopt an open and positive mindset to deal with the ever-present feeling of tenseness.

Addiction: A Family Disease

An addiction not only has the ability to impact an individual, but the entire family as well. Substance Use Disorders (SUD) can be classified as a “family disease”- while it is easy to identify the effect it has on the addict, family members will not understand their roles in the situation. The key to a successful recovery is acceptance. Once this is established, both the addict and their family members can focus on mending their bond.

An effective treatment centre will incorporate the loved ones of an individual in treatment. Why? Although rehabilitation is an individual process, it is more successful with family cooperation.  The treatment facility will have a group of trained professionals who work in unison to help family members understand their impact on the addict’s life. Once they establish a good understanding of their behavioural implications, they can apply this knowledge in effectively supporting the individual in long-term recovery.

In order to foster peace among all family members, it is recommended that all of those affected attend group counselling sessions. The facility should provide consistent and post-treatment opportunities that will educate participants on acceptable approaches to the recovery process. If this is done successfully, the substance user will likely be given the support they need to live a sober life.

People commonly suffer from addictions as a way of coping with a traumatic experience or negative emotions. The first step to recovery is addressing the issue- what is causing the SUD? The treatment facility will then help the patient manage the source and find better methods to cope with the negative thoughts they may be experiencing.

It is important to remember that addiction is a disease and there is no one way to cure it. Often times, close friends or family will act as the biggest support system to a substance abuser. As a result, they should know how to work with them. Staying consistent throughout the recovery process is key to maintaining sobriety. Be sure to encourage your loved one to reach their goals and remind them to reflect on their progress.

Thinking About An Intervention?

While an intervention is often necessary to address an ongoing addiction, it is important to organize an approach in order for it to be effective. In doing so, we must assure that our loved one feels comfortable and that intervention is held for one reason- that others care for their well-being. Oftentimes a substance abuser can be in denial about their addiction and may not be ready to accept others’ opinions. Keep in mind that addiction is a mental illness and therefore must be treated with mindfully.

Those who do not struggle with addiction may not understand the psychological implications behind a substance abuser’s actions. As such, it is crucial to understand that they do not have control of the situation. To help guide them in a healthy direction, friends and loved ones are encouraged to support the addict rather than trying to mend the situation themselves. How can I support a person with an active addiction? Try to have open conversations with them and keep a positive attitude. If they seem to be hiding something, ask them what it is and take steps to address their feelings. Do not judge, simply listen and accept their situation. Recovery is more effective in groups where the substance abuser has a healthy support system. By taking these few small steps, an addict will likely foster a desire to get better.

The purpose of an intervention is to create an eye-opening moment for the substance abuser. While one-on-one confrontation can feel downgrading and pressure-filled, coming together as a tight-knit group is likely to foster a great sense of care and love among all participants. If all members approach the intervention with an open and accepting mind, it will limit the addict from feeling defensive and guilty. An intervention should not be nerve-wrecking, it should be a light-hearted and genuine conversation that can mend a broken family.

In some cases, hiring an interventionist can make the conversation go smoother. Interventionists are professionals who are trained to ease tensions, guide conversations in the right direction, or ease aggression if it arises. Their responsibility is to maintain a clear communication channel between the addict and their loved ones.

The first step to an intervention is research. It is important to compare treatment options and determine what will work best for your loved one based on the facility’s goals and reputation. The second step is assembling your intervention team. When doing so, you should consider recruiting a minimal number of people to avoid overwhelming feelings from surfacing. That being said, your group should meet prior to the intervention and discuss what each member’s role. In addition, decide on an appropriate time to host the intervention. Should it be a surprise intervention or will you notify the addict beforehand? Like a treatment program, an intervention is also individualistic. Depending on the person and the circumstance, you may need to carefully evaluate your options.

When arranging an intervention, it is important to remember that it may not work the first time around. In this case, you may need to reevaluate and discuss further options- DO NOT get discouraged! Instead, come up with another way to address the issue. To ensure your loved one receives the attention and support they need, you must be both consistent and persistent with your actions. Always remember that the main goal is to have this individual recognize their problem and want to get help for it. Once they have acknowledged this, remind them that they have the ability to live a fulfilling life once they are able to start their recovery process.

Building a Continuing Care Plan

Alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs are designed to help patients recognize and control their own behaviors to prevent relapse. At Cedars, we emphasize the importance of a personalized experience with the end goal to limit substance use. Once a person is admitted into a program, their discharge becomes a focal point. The idea is to develop a plan for how they will take control of their life and avoid falling back into their addictive habits. Things that you can expect in a discharge plan are; additional or ongoing therapies, ongoing medication management, support groups, and drug testing.

As every person’s situation is different, each patient will receive a customized treatment plan. Our counsellors assess their circumstance and reactions and from there on consider the patient’s need for emotional, physical, and social support. Below are some common steps that a patient may be asked to follow:

• Transitional or Sober Living
• 12 Step groups or support groups
• Medication management
• Coach and sponsorship

In simple terms, sober living is a type of housing that allows those who have undergone treatment to ease back into a regular routine while overcoming their addiction. In essence, this may include learning how to balance home life with school and work.

There are 24 hour support staff available onsite to assure that patients follow their curfews, undergo drug testing, and stick to their discharge plan. They will provide both emotional and mental support, as well as life coaching and guidance which may include: designing a job resume, furthering their education, or volunteering opportunities.

12-Step programs are designed to be a support system to help teach those recovering from addiction how to improve and maintain their life during recovery. These are groups of newly sober individuals that provide encouragement for one another and help motivated each other to stay in recovery long term.

Managing medication is especially important for those overcoming an addiction as they help control cravings during and after their treatment program. When properly subscribed and consistently taken, these medications are very effective. We must keep in mind that addiction is a mental illness and many people will rely on medical drugs to keep it under control. While some become hooked on them, others will come off of these medications once their brain has begun to heal.

Sponsors and coaches are often those who have struggled with addiction in the past and are in recovery. Their role is to share their story, experiences, and knowledge of recovery with those overcoming addictions. This will help them transition into life after completing their treatment program.

Successful recoveries are often a result of not only overcoming the addiction itself, but also addressing the underlying psychological issues that may have originally contributed to the addiction. Both certified psychiatrists and therapists will combine their knowledge to develop personalized plans to ensure that each patient receives the proper attention in their journey to recovery.

Dealing With Trauma

Recovering from addiction can be a lengthy process. Many people believe that if the substance is removed, the problem is solved… which is not the case. People turn to substances with hopes of escaping reality and treat Substance Use Disorders (SUD) as their support system. Due to an individual’s clouded mental and emotional states, they may not have the ability to cease the drug use, thus turning it into an active addiction. Once a person starts using drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, they become codependent and can’t picture their life without it.

As a patient makes their way through a rehabilitation program, they address a substance’s impacts on the mind, body, and soul. From there, they will conduct a mental and physical health analysis (through Somatic Therapy) by reflecting on the causes and outcomes of substance abuse while arranging an effective treatment plan. It’s important for patients to be open about their problems- this way they can achieve a more meaningful and lasting solution. At Cedars, we focus on establishing healthy coping mechanisms and inscribing positive habits that inspire people to deal with trauma in early stages of their recovery. In doing so, individuals are more likely to approach their journey to sobriety with an empowering attitude.

Whether it be familial, social, professional, or academic reasons, each person handles situations differently. Many people with addiction also suffer from conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma, PTSD, OSI, or borderline personality disorder. The person likely began using substances as a coping mechanism which then declined into an addiction. If this is the case, they must meet with a general practitioner to arrange a healthy medication schedule. Those undergoing detox will often have severe withdrawal symptoms and so, it is equally important to take care of their other health concerns.

Addiction treatment centres have licensed staff who are trained in dealing with mental health issues and substance abuse. Counsellors will help decide which recovery path is best for each individual whether it be residential treatment or an intensive outpatient program. At Cedars, we offer the Acorn House- a post-treatment recovery facility that provides further support to those who are not ready for the transition back to a sober routine. By accepting the past and healing traumatic thoughts, individuals will develop tools to create healthy mental and emotional states.

Trauma therapy is best resolved through a number of psychological treatments including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Reprocessing Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioral Treatment (DBT). Patients will learn to reprogram their negative thoughts to more logical reactions in their relationships and within themselves. When a patient is committed to treating the trauma behind their substance abuse, they will learn to safely and effectively target the source of their suffering. This will help them heal past wounds and cope with previous traumatic experiences in a positive way and see life in a new light.

What is the Discovery Program?

Set at the beautiful Oceanfront Suites in the picturesque village of Cowichan Bay, the Discovery Program features therapeutic exercises and informative sessions that invite participants to explore topics such as connection, communication skills, self acceptance, and support. These discussions stimulate ways for people to express and manage their feelings, move beyond resentment, and rebuild trust. In the process of bypassing unhealthy behaviours, participants will establish a foundation on how to rebuild healthy relationships, allowing them to move towards integrity and fulfillment for both themselves and their families.

Ocean Front

Who is the Discovery Program for?

While the Discovery Program is designed to support families of addiction, it also highlights the importance of creating an individualistic road to recovery. Addiction is not a “one-size fits all” solution and thus, it is important for participants to develop a range of coping mechanisms. Discovery is meant to bring positive change.  Whether you have a close relationship with a substance abuser, have experienced trauma, or are looking for ways to cope, this program is for you.

Often times, we believe that we are alone in our struggles. Discovery grants families the opportunity to heal, accept, and grow both individually and as a unit. Throughout this program, participants will embark on a journey of recognition through an association with like-minded individuals. At Cedars we understand the innate need for connection and the healing that takes place within a community atmosphere. Recovery is a job to be done together, in unison, and will produce a successful outcome.