A Guide to Overcoming Adversity During Recovery

The road to recovery from addiction and substance abuse disorders is often long and difficult—and there will be obstacles, arguments, and emotional pain along the way. How can you avoid relapse when these things happen? When you feel sadness, anxiety, or a temptation building, try these tools to keep from spiraling to a point of no return.

Take Responsibility

Taking responsibility for our own actions, thoughts, and behaviors is usually the first step in overcoming adverse situations, especially in an argument. During times where you find yourself anxious and fighting with others more often than you’d like, ask yourself: Am I blaming others for my own unhappiness or sadness? Am I acting out because of my own shame and guilt? Answering “yes” to either of these questions is a sign you should circle back to the root of the problem before the fight gets out of hand. Yes, this may feel uncomfortable, but owning up to your actions and identifying where it’s coming from is a productive way to heal the adverse situation.

Check in on the progress of your recovery

Take an honest and thoughtful look at your recovery so far and how you are working on it. Are there things you know you should be managing that you aren’t doing? Are you taking care of yourself? Are you eating right? Have you fallen into a negative headspace? Neglecting your responsibilities and health could be affecting your ability to handle adverse situations like stress. 

Practice compassion

Self-compassion is the tolerance to accept what you feel. It doesn’t matter what the emotion is—fear, resentment, anger, anxiety—allow yourself to feel the emotions and sit with it. These moments of acknowledgment will help you avoid doing the things you once did to cover up emotions and potentially relapse. Acknowledge your feelings and try not to judge them.

Focus on controlling yourself and your reactions

We can’t control things that are not in our power. We also don’t have control over what other people think, say, or do around us, but we do have control over how we react. For example, you may not be able to control the person who is saying hurtful things about you and your past, but you can control your response. Resolve to respond in a calm manner, instead of going down the rabbit hole of negative thought patterns and behaviors, or simply walk away—you don’t need the aggravation.

Lean on your support system

Surrounding yourself with a strong support system is one of the most important things you can do to overcome adverse situations. Social support promotes mental health, and many studies have shown that support from loved ones can reduce stress during difficult times. It’s also easier to stay on track when you engage with people who have the same ambitions and goals as you do. Lean on family and friends to provide emotional support and a sense of belonging when things get rough. If that’s not an option, you can also call your sponsor or go to a local meeting to stay on track. There is always help.

Distraction and redirection

Another great way to deal with stress is to engage in healthy distractions. Doing so will redirect you back onto the road of sobriety. If you’ve been using alcohol and drugs to deal with your issues, you’ll have to learn new ways to distract yourself during your toughest moments. Activities like writing, going to a movie, journaling, exercise, yoga, reading, podcasts, or cooking can help keep your mind occupied as the stress eventually passes. Keep in mind there is a difference between distraction and avoidance. Distraction is a healthy tool you can utilize after you have acknowledged what is happening and why. If you haven’t taken the time to make this assessment first, you’re just avoiding the problem and burying your feelings—which can lead to relapse. 

Take a time out

Take a step back from whatever it is that’s bothering you and be good to yourself. This kind of technique allows you stay grounded in moments that can make you feel like you are spinning out of control. Try meditation, yoga, going outside for a walk, or try breathing exercises to help you refocus. If you need even more time, go get a massage, listen to music or a guided meditation app, or have coffee with a friend and talk it out. Just step away from the issue. 

Treatment for Addiction

Using these tools can help you during your recovery and healing process. However, talk to your sponsor or treatment team to find other effective methods in dealing with adversity and anxiety during sobriety. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and a mental health disorder, get help now. At Daylight Recovery Services, both conditions are treated simultaneously as a dual diagnosis for the best results in recovery. Many who get treatment proceed to live healthy, productive, meaningful lives. Contact us today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT to get the help you need. 

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” – Muhammad Ali