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10 Things You May Not Be Prepared for When You First Become Sober

soberGiving up alcohol will likely to lead to many major changes in your life. If you are not prepared for the road ahead, it could increase the likelihood of you being knocked off-track. The worst mistake you can make when giving up alcohol is just to expect everything to be perfect right away. It takes time to build a new life, and there is certain to be many challenges along the way. Here are 10 things that people tend not to be prepared for upon giving up alcohol.

1. Staying Sober Can Feel Easy A Lot of the Time

People can quickly adapt to a new life in recovery, with the process sometimes feeling so easy that the individual becomes complacent. If you have struggled for years to break free of alcohol, and you now find that it is nowhere near as hard as you imagined, you may start to wonder what all the fuss has been about. This type of thinking can lead you into dangerous territory and you may start to think if perhaps you could learn to control your drinking – after all, if staying sober is relatively easy, you can always try it again later. There have been many who have lost the opportunity of long-term recovery because they were fooled into believing that staying sober was no big deal.

2. The Emotional Rollercoaster of Early Recovery

In Alcoholics Anonymous, they warn newcomers that “the good news is that you get your feelings back and the bad news is you get your feelings back.” Early recovery is often referred to as an emotional rollercoaster because of the likelihood of you experiencing extreme mood swings. This happens because alcohol abuse means that your feelings have been numbed, therefore everything feels more intense than before. There can also be a great deal of stress in early recovery, which only adds to the emotional rollercoaster feeling. The good news is that once you have been sober for a few months, things will settle down again.

3. Pink Cloud Syndrome

Those trapped in alcohol addiction tend to suffer a great deal. If you have just escaped the death sentence that is addiction, it is understandable that you will feel good about things. This is only natural but there is a risk that you could become so high on life that it puts your sobriety in danger. This is referred to as developing pink cloud syndrome. It is dangerous because you can start to feel so good that you no longer feel the need to do the things that have been helping to keep you sober. The other danger with pink cloud syndrome is that when it ends, which it always does, you can hit the earth with such a bang that it causes you to relapse. There is nothing wrong with enjoying life to the fullest when you get sober, but it is important to keep in mind that there are likely to be bad days as well as good in your future, and it is dangerous to ‘take your foot off the pedal’ in recovery.

4. The Transition from Rehab to Home

Attending a rehab programme can give you a great foundation for your new life, but it is vital that you are prepared for the transition from this type of therapeutic environment back to the community. Staying sober in a rehab is relatively easy because you will be protected from the usual stresses and temptations. Your confidence is likely to be high at this point and you may assume that things are going to be just as easy when you return home. This type of expectation is usually false, and if you are not adequately supported when you return home, there will be a huge risk of relapse. All of the reputable inpatient treatment facilities will offer you an aftercare programme, but it would be up to you to make the most of what is being offered. Remember that it is better to have too much aftercare than too little.

5. The Reaction of Loved Ones

If you caused a lot of pain to loved ones during your years of addiction, it may take a lot of time to rebuild these relationships. It is unrealistic to expect these individuals to just forgive and forget because you have decided to clean up your act; some of them may never be able to forgive you completely – this is something you just have to accept. There may even be people who feel threatened by your sobriety because they have developed a co-dependent relationship with you. Giving up alcohol will lead to great improvements in your life, but it important to keep in mind that there are no guarantees when it comes to others.

6. Drinking Dreams

It is common for individuals who give up alcohol to occasionally have drinking dreams. There is nothing wrong with this, and it does not mean that you are on the verge of relapse. You have been abusing alcohol for many years, so it is to be expected that it would continue to be a theme in your dreams. If you are constantly having drinking dreams, it could be your subconscious telling you that something needs to change in your life.

7. You seem to be Getting Worse in Recovery

It can feel as if your behaviour is getting worse in recovery. This happens because alcohol would have previously been hiding many of your character flaws and you could blame drinking for all of your problems. Breaking free of alcohol means becoming far more aware of your own issues, but this is actually a very good thing. The fact that you can now see your character flaws makes it possible for you to begin working to overcome them.

8. You Feel Guilty About the Past

Do not be surprised if you have times where you experience a great deal of guilt during the first few months of recovery. You now have the time to reflect on your past behaviour, and there may be things you deeply regret. It is vital that you keep in mind that you are already making amends for the past by getting sober. These episodes of guilt can actually be used by the addictive part of your thinking to drag you back down into addiction. If you feel overwhelmed by the guilt of the past, you need to talk to somebody you trust about it – a therapist or support group is ideal for this.

9. Regret over the Lost Years

Once you begin to enjoy your new life in recovery, you could start to regret all those years that you lost to addiction. This feeling of loss is understandable, but as you develop more emotional sobriety, you can begin to see things in a different way – you being to understand that you could not have this wonderful new life if it wasn’t for all the things that happened to you up to now. You will probably always regret the harm you caused to others, but you can reach a point where you feel at ease with everything that has happened to you so far.

10. Romancing the Drink

When you first give up alcohol, the pain of addiction is will be fresh in your mind. The problem is that this memory is likely to fade over time. One of the dangers of forgetting how bad it all used to be is that you can begin to ‘romance the drink’ – you start to remember the good times. This type of daydreaming may feel harmless, but it can easily put you on a path towards relapse. It is vital that you learn to challenge these thoughts by remembering how bad it all was at the end of your drinking.

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