It is expected for the recovering person to experience a whole bag full of negative psychological and physical responses to the elimination of the addicting substance. It is a temptation, and possibly the root of some relapses, to give up on the process of recovery too soon. Almost everything about us has to have time to get used to the new person we are becoming or to remember the wonderful person we were before the addiction changed us. The worst of the following difficulties are less painful than the symptoms of the addicted life:
Insomnia: As the brain chemistry begins to revert to a healthy level, many addicts experience a period of sleep deprivation and a lack of REM, or "dream stage" of sleep. And when we do dream, they can be really funky, scary, drug using, just weird nightmares. How's that for the rewards of living the clean and sober life?
Anger: We have been cautioned about anger. There is no doubt that anger, expressed inappropriately, or not expressed at all, can be a real problem. On the other hand, anger can be a blessing. Anger can move us or stir us up, and get us stimulated into action. Anger's energy has great power. That energy, used in the appropriate way, can help us to get moving toward a positive goal.
Confusion: Virtually all addicts go through a time of confusion as we are striving to "find ourselves." This may happen more when the addict is really working a program, but others in our lives are not. They see us as the one with the problem that needs fixing. So, we go about fixing it; and then those same people get frustrated with us and the priorities of recovery. So, some times it's just easier to give up on the whole deal.
Isolation: Focusing on our issues and addressing them head on with no holds barred requires that we make our recovery the most important thing in the world. This process can isolate us from others, even those who are good for us. We can be so introspective we don't let others into our recovery. We can actually lose our connectedness to the group.
Guilt: While working the first five steps of the program, we processed through a lot of guilt and shame. We learned the difference between guilt and shame. We started feeling better about ourselves. We started feeling genuinely happy and free. As time goes by, we may remember more events of our lives that bring us sadness, guilt, and shame. These new memories will need to be dealt with as soon as they occur. There is nothing wrong with us. This is just how the brain works.
Self-Righteousness: Knowing that our Higher Power has healed us and made things right is an essential aspect of the early stages of recovery. Knowing and feeling forgiven are fantastic! And, it is true we "made a decision to turn our lives and our will over" to the Higher Power. The work of recovery is not over. We are righteous because we have been healed and made right by a power greater than ourselves. Let's not forget.
Dr. Candace McDaniel
8021 East Thornton Fwy, Suite A
Dallas, Texas 75228