Anxiety can be a co-occurring disorder to drug and alcohol addiction, more professionally referred to as substance use disorders. Anxiety disorders can include social anxiety, general anxiety, panic disorder and even post-traumatic stress disorder. In the early months of recovery up to the first full year, there can be an experience of anxiety. The brain and body which are undergoing symptoms of withdrawal and detox are experiencing a lot of anxiety. Anxiety is caused when the toxins are leaving the body and the brain is trying to compensate. Cravings are essentially rooted in anxiety. Cravings are the way the brain expresses its anxiety that there won’t be more drugs and alcohol, that there will be grave consequences without more drugs and alcohol, like possibly dying. Symptoms of withdrawal are painful and unpleasant. The addicted mind has become hardwired for experiencing pleasure. Anticipating symptoms of withdrawal, in addition to experiencing the symptoms themselves, can cause a lot of anxiety. Additionally, anxiety can be caused through everyday activities like driving in the car, going grocery shopping, or even trying to decide which recovery support meeting to go to at night.
Managing anxiety in early recovery means managing stress. Though anxiety disorders are clinically different than stress, stress can be caused by the experience of anxiety and vice versa. Here are two new ways to come out of an anxious moment without turning to drugs or alcohol to cope.
The Nose, Knows!
Your olfactory senses are your strongest memory recall. In early recovery this is both a benefit and a deficit. Being around people using drugs and drinking alcohol could trigger uncomfortable cravings which are their strongest since they were activated by smell. Combat your smelling sense by using other smells in an anxious moments. Essential oils, a favorite snack, or even a favorite perfume can help bring you back to the present moment. By creating memory associations of relaxation, sobriety, and recovery, these new smells will become just as powerful as old ones.
Find An Ice Cube
This is an old, but effective trick. When you are caught up in your anxiety, you can feel dissociated and have a difficult time coming back to the present moment. If you have the ability to find something cold, clutch it tightly in your hand. The shock of the cold will instantly bring you out of your funk and help you come back to the present.
Everyone is capable of change in recovery, one step at a time. Take the first step toward change today by reaching out to Design For Change. Our long term treatment options and recovery services were created to help you find hope and freedom in recovery. For more information, call (877) 267-3646.