Early recovery can bring so many confusing, new and weird challenges. And the fact that you can’t fall back to drugs or alcohol is even harder. You’re in recovery for the long run, but everything you do is completely new because you’re doing it sober. Literally everything. Dealing with changes can be stressful but it’s important. You’re going to go through a lot of changes and challenges. And what you need to focus on is overcoming them.
If you’re experiencing frequent mood swings, confusion, memory gaps or sleeping problems, it could be a sign of P.A.W.S. P.A.W.S is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. The first stage of recovery is the acute stage, which lasts up to a few weeks. This stage will show a lot of physical changes or flu-like changes. The second stage is P.A.W.S, which includes more emotional and psychological stages; concentration, mood swings, etc. P.A.W.S can last up to 2 years, but everyone is different and someone may have it a lot less time than someone else. Someone can also have it more or less severe than someone else.
- Fuzzy thinking (AKA brain fog)
- Inability to concentrate
- Problems with memory
- Inability to develop a normal sleep pattern
- Repetitive thinking
- Emotions that feel out of control
- Difficulties managing stress
- Problems with coordination
- Feelings of depression
- Feelings of anxiety
Dealing With Changes in Recovery
Instead of going back to your old routines, here are some ways to cope with the challenges.
Manage your time. You will want to keep a busy schedule in recovery, especially the first 90 days. Have some consistency, and plan out activities for you to do. Eliminate stuff that you don’t need to get done or do, and replace it with AA meetings and counseling. Even if you schedule out one or two things every day that needs to get done, it’s a start and you can only improve from it. You should prioritize your responsibilities and keep your recovery #1 priority.
Talk to someone. If you keep emotions bottled up, it will only make matters worse. Sharing information with your sponsor, counselors, friends or family is a good way to release stress and talk about what’s going on. The more you talk about it, the better you’ll feel and the higher chance you’ll stay sober.
What stresses you out? Identifying what stresses you out will help you in recovery. Is it being with family? Being late to work? Office or school work deadlines? Once you find the things that stress you out the most, you can try to think of ways to resolve the stress. Prioritizing office or school work, leaving 15 minutes early for events, limiting your visits to family, moving out. You are in charge of how you live your life, and if there’s something that is stressful that keeps coming up, you should do something about it.
Stress-lowering activities are key. Put some music on, read a book, go to the gym or take a walk. Yoga and meditating are also great resources for decompressing. Doing something that doesn’t involve a lot of stress will help you relax more and enjoy your sobriety.
Life is Tough
We know life isn’t all rainbows and roses, and there will be some obstacles along the way. It’s something that we learn to deal with on daily basis. Some days are hard and some days are easy, but the only way to go about it is with a positive mind. We learn by dealing with changes like this, it’s how we grow and how we move past it.