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Can PMS Endanger Your Sobriety?
Many women struggle with a threat to their sobriety that men don’t have to deal with. It’s a recurring threat for millions of women, and even though it’s a temporary problem that will go away if you hang in there, it can be a very powerful and even destructive force. It’s premenstrual syndrome, better known as PMS.
Some may scoff and insist that PMS isn’t really a problem and that it is all in your head. It certainly may seem that way if you have spent years under the influence of one chemical or another. Even if your drug of choice was alcohol, you were out of touch enough with reality to not recognize the hormonal fluctuations you were going through.
Now that you’re sober, you may be surprised at the dramatic mood swings you experience. It may take you a while to realize that these mood swings are pretty predictable if you’re paying attention to the calendar. On a recurring monthly basis, your emotional symptoms may include depression, irritability, sadness or rage, and you may also experience unpleasant physical symptoms such as fatigue, bloating, cramps or insomnia.
If you’re like other women who have PMS, you may frequently feel completely out of control. You may cry for no apparent reason, throw things or pick fights with people you love. The intensity of your negative moods may make you feel like you are just about ready for the funny farm. For some women, PMS is nothing more than an annoyance that makes them feel slightly off-balance, but for others it triggers feelings and behaviors that are impossible to live with. For an addict or alcoholic, this out-of-control feeling is often accompanied by the urge to pick up a drink or a drug.
Staying Sober Through PMS
PMS affects as many as eight out of 10 women. It occurs in the last half of the menstrual cycle and may wreak havoc with your emotions for anywhere from a few days to over a week. For those who are actively addicted, alcohol and drug use may increase as PMS symptoms intensify. The cyclical tendencies may not be apparent to the user or to those who love her.
Once you are sober, the intensely negative feelings that are often experienced during PMS can threaten your serenity, and maybe even your sobriety. The good news is that there are things you can do to relieve your symptoms besides reaching for a drink or a drug. The important thing is to take charge of your own recovery. Getting in tune with your body and anticipating hormonal symptoms that may kick in on a predictable basis may help you deal with these symptoms.
Recovery from addiction needs to address both your physical and mental well-being. Becoming physically active and participating in regular exercise may help to relieve symptoms of PMS. You don’t have to go overboard with exercising. Simply making the effort to become more active through low impact movements such as walking, biking or yoga can improve both your physical and mental health.
Get in the habit of eating healthy foods and limiting things that aren’t good for you, such as too much caffeine or sugar. PMS sometimes causes food cravings. If you crave sugary foods, a good choice is dark chocolate, which contains ingredients that boost serotonin. An even better choice is to replace junk food with complex carbs such as vegetables or whole grains. Complex carbs help the blood sugar rise gradually so that food cravings stay under control longer.
Journaling is a way to get in touch with your feelings. If you are feeling extremely sad or angry, try to sort out your feelings on paper. If you are aware that the cause of your negative moods is PMS, allowing yourself to express your feelings without judging yourself can help to diffuse the intensity of your mood.
The negative feelings that can be triggered by PMS are temporary. Picking up a drink or a drug won’t solve anything. It will only make you feel worse. Remember that you only have to live through one day at a time, and the bad feelings you may be having today will pass.