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Reconditioning Emotions in Addiction Recovery

Emotions in Addiction Recovery - Bergad Group

Emotional responses are natural, built into the human system, experienced by everyone.  From happy to sad, angry to grateful, embarrassed to proud, the array can play a bigger role in how a day develops for better or worse than most other factors.  As a result, these feelings begin to shape habits, which can be detrimental if these practices develop into issues of substance abuse, particularly considering the huge role of emotions in addiction recovery.

Let Old Habits Die Easy

“It’s easy to form a habit. All you have to do is act on conditioned emotions repeatedly.”  Of course, the nature of addiction moves far past the idea of a habit, though addictions are also fairly automatic processes that “conserve mental energy” by moving forward into an action without the amount of thought that might normally be allotted to a decision.  The way to move out of these habits is to begin to form new ones, to plan your lifestyle around a fresh schedule, the focus of which is something that will help to divert from substance abuse while encouraging healthier choices.

One way to begin is through “emotion reconditioning,” or changing the way you respond to moments in life from your previously-set, habitual reactions.  If a person often came home from work feeling frustrated with the day, he or she might turn to an evening drink, or two, or more on Monday through Friday.  It could evolve from there, equating the feeling of irritation with the desire for alcohol.  The substance abuse will likely exist as a part of routine long before it is recognized by the individual as a problem, and those actions are much harder to shake once they become regular customs.

More of the difficulty with emotions in addiction recovery is that they cause you to be “moved to do something, whether or not you act on it.”  That is, if that frustration begins to stir, you may feel driven to drink even if you refrain.  In order to distract from those emotions that are unpleasant, people turn to behaviors and substances that can accomplish this.  The reason that phrases such as “comfort food” exist is because of the power of habits; in this case, “comfort food” is a meal that a person might fall back on as a reassurance in stressful times.  These practices arise to meet us when unpleasant feelings crop up as a kind of automatic counter-weight.  However, the practices themselves may not be good and can venture into the highly negative when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse.

As with anything, forming new habits takes a lot of time, patience, and willpower.  When you feel anxiety rising, a new activity should be implemented immediately rather than turning to old fall backs such as a drink or a cigarette.  For example, deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation could all be tried to battle stress at the end of a long day.  The transition is never easy, but it’s crucial to changing emotions in addiction recovery, and you are the only one who can make the commitment to change.  “Emotion exercises” on a regular basis can help you to feel more positive responses to challenging situations, to place more value on yourself so that “you want to improve, appreciate, connect, or protect.”

Emotions in addiction recovery can seem insurmountable, but you can learn to take back control.  For more information on addiction and drug treatment in Harford County, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

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About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehabilitation and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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