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Navigating the Road of Early Recovery During and After Drug Rehab

Drug and alcohol dependency has two components. The body has built up a physical relationship with the substance and the mind has developed an emotional attachment to the habit. The major changes a person faces during the first weeks of drug rehab and even in the weeks immediately following treatment can feel overwhelming, but they can be gotten through and overcome. Sometimes just knowing what lies ahead can remove some of the anxiety about the process.

Most people check out of their emotional life while they are in the midst of abusing substances like drugs or alcohol. In fact, the desire to escape or block unpleasant emotions can be the reason a person turns to substances in the first place. It also sheds light on why the first weeks of drug rehab can be so frightening. Without the numbness brought on by drugs or alcohol, people are brought face to face with the troubling emotions and thoughts once again and the confrontation can seem daunting to say the least.

While it can seem tough at first, it may help to know that this is common for many people leaving behind their addictions. The good news is that an essential part of drug rehab is learning how to face and work through those negative emotions and thought patterns. Once a person leaves rehab, there will be more of these challenges as the person resumes the responsibilities of daily life. This is why commitment to a strong 12 Step program is so valuable. Meeting with others who are likeminded and who have practical strategies for avoiding temptations provides needed emotional support during a trying period of re-adjustment.

The physical challenge of becoming sober is also significant. At first it can seem as though these challenges will never be conquered when, in fact, the opposite is true. With time and dedication a sober life free from these physical withdrawal symptoms will become the new normal. Don't be surprised however if you initially: find it difficult to sleep (insomnia), feel restless, experience chills, body aches, or mood swings, lose your appetite, have trouble focusing (brain changes have taken place and the brain needs time to recover) or just feel drained and unmotivated. None of these unpleasant symptoms are abnormal and they will eventually pass.

On the positive side, you can mitigate some of the physical and emotional strains during drug rehab by making sure to eat properly and exercise regularly. It sounds so simple but exercise works as a natural mood enhancer. Even gentle exercise will stimulate the body's production of endorphins which lead to feeling better and even being better. So while the first weeks of rehab and post-rehab definitely pose some real challenges, it's important to remember that these are normal and that a healthy, sober life is within reach. Recovery is a process. It doesn't happen all at once, but each day brings that new life closer.

Posted on April 18th, 2012

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