How Negative Emotions Can Lead to Relapse - Garden State Treatment

Addicts didn’t wake up one day and decide they wanted to be an addict. We didn’t think, yes, I’m going to use drugs and alcohol to the point of not being able to go a day without them and let them ruin all my hopes, dreams, and my relationships. This is not what we want as a child when growing up. Addiction is progressive and usually starts innocently enough with no intent to harm oneself or another. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, from any background or social status.

Negative Emotions Lead to Relapse

The Reason Addicts Use Drugs

There are many reasons why we choose to use drugs or alcohol. Everyone has their own personal reason, but they all come from some sort of emotional, psychological or physical cause. When emotional, we might feel stress, trauma, embarrassment, or some other emotion that is uncomfortable. A psychological cause may be a feeling of inadequacy or a need to have a boost of confidence. While a physical cause is a feeling of needing a boost to have more energy or maybe a need to relax or go to sleep. Whatever the causes are of using, it is a temporary fix for these feelings, not a solution, and will bring on more life difficulties. As we continue to use whenever we feel these feelings, they become triggers, and it becomes an automatic reaction to use therefore, we fall into this cycle of addiction.

As addicts, the majority of us have been to some sort of substance abuse treatment facility, undergone some therapy, and may have entered into the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous or another fellowship. While going through these steps of recovery, we learn to cope with these triggers in healthy and productive ways. We have people in our sober community that we turn to when we feel these triggers coming on so we can prevent a relapse.

Dealing With Your Emotions

Dealing with emotions is an everyday battle, especially for addicts. Emotions arise multiple times a day for everyone, and we all have a different way of dealing with them. The emotions that are most likely to cause a relapse are:

  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Disappointment
  • Guilt
  • Boredom

These are the earliest signs, negative emotions, which you need to look out for that could lead to physical relapse. Have a plan in place when these negative emotions come up because they will and realize you don’t need to feel guilty about having these feelings; it is normal. A lot of addicts are ashamed after having a few months, even a few years sober, that they have these emotions that trigger them. It is completely normal to have ALL these feelings; we are human; the real test is what you do with those emotions.

What you never want to do is ignore them. Being aware of what you are feeling is the best way of getting ahead of the game and being on top of your sobriety. Awareness can bring you many benefits, such as gaining an understanding of WHY you are feeling a particular way, you can PROCESS your feelings better, and you have an opportunity to LEARN from your feelings.

In recovery, you learn how to cope with these negative emotions, and some of these coping skills are simple and beneficial. Such as:

  • Clean your house
  • Do your laundry
  • Exercise
  • Walk your dog
  • Go to a 12-Step meeting

All of these can boost your mood and spirit.

Get the Help You Need

We at Garden State Treatment Center understand that everyday life can be a struggle, and triggers can come up. Our relapse prevention therapy in New Jersey helps you gain the needed knowledge and coping skills to avoid a relapse. Once you’re out in the real world, having the tools and knowledge to overcome your triggers is crucial. Contact us for a confidential treatment assessment around the clock.

Published on: 2019-10-14
Updated on: 2024-02-06