Recovery from addiction can feel like an intimidating journey to embark on. If you are newly reconciled with your alcoholism or are beginning treatment, challenges will arise daily to test your mental health and make you stronger in the process. Luckily, many of these challenges are predictable and you can educate yourself before making a proactive plan for your recovery. There is no shame or stigma if you find yourself struggling with stress, changes in your body due to withdrawal, feeling discouraged, or even signs of a relapse. By planning for expected challenges ahead, you can begin treatment for alcoholism with an optimistic mindset and a plan for success.
Stress and Anxiety
Alcohol addiction is an emotionally draining and challenging experience. You’ll experience drastic changes at both physical and emotional levels, which will sometimes cause you stress and even anxiety. Suffering from a comorbid anxiety disorder in addition to alcoholism can also impact social aspects of recovery. If you are prone to stress or have an anxiety disorder before recovery, be sure to ask for additional support from your treatment center or psychologist. Being prepared for healthy responses to stress throughout recovery will save you energy and preserve your mental health as you focus on beating addiction.
Changes in Weight
Alcohol withdrawal may cause your body weight to fluctuate in response to the changes you are making during treatment. Your body will need to adjust its response to blood sugar levels changing, differences in sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and hydration. Some people experience weight gain if they’ve replaced regular meals and nutrition with alcohol before recovery. Others might lose weight if alcoholism had caused them to eat more than usual or end a fitness routine. If you feel nervous about changes in weight during recovery, remember that this will likely last a few weeks during major changes to your lifestyle. Once you enter a stage of recovery where your habits are consistent, your weight can adjust to its most healthy place.
Warning signs of alcohol addiction may be familiar to you if you noticed them in the past, however, it is crucial to stay alert and self-aware in case a relapse challenges you in new ways. You are not alone if you struggle with tempting thoughts or discouragement throughout your treatment. In fact, overcoming signs of relapses is part of the recovery process if you learn the signs and respond accordingly. Your treatment providers will also be well-versed in the signs of relapse, so communicate clearly with them and do not be ashamed to ask for help. By educating yourself about relapse warning signs, you can feel confident in your response plan in advance.
Rebuilding Your Self-Esteem
Alcoholism is an addiction that takes a great toll on your self-esteem. Before recovery, it was likely that you felt a loss of control in many areas of your life. Dependence on alcohol is a thought pattern that is best broken with great attention to your new habits that build self-esteem. If you begin recovery and often feel discouraged, alone, or stuck, consider asking your therapist for specific exercises and interventions that promote your best self-esteem. Having strong self-efficacy during your treatment process allows you to advocate for yourself, ask for help, and feel optimistic in the face of other habits that may pose challenges in the future.
Creating New Habits
Alcohol addiction may have caused you to feel stuck in some unhealthy habits that often arise with addiction. Sleeping less (or less soundly), failing to exercise, eating unhealthy, and loss of self-care are common damaging habits that you may struggle with as you move forward from addiction. Luckily, creating healthy habits will be a foundation for your success in recovery. Be sure to focus on one healthy habit at a time if you feel overwhelmed or unsure where to begin. Perhaps you decide to hydrate more to help with initial withdrawal symptoms, or begin taking walks while listening to motivational podcasts. Creating a new health routine does not need to be a challenge in recovery if you decide to use your healthy habits as the foundation for a future where you feel your best.
Recovery from alcohol addiction will be a journey that may last your entire life. You’ll face daily challenges along with wins and progress that make your efforts worthwhile. Overcoming these obstacles can be made easier with planning, education, and an open mind to receiving help. You can incorporate proactive measures into your treatment and voice your concerns with your mental health provider if you take the time to learn about possible challenges that may arise. Recovery is a process that brings countless highs and lows throughout treatment, so prepare yourself to overcome them in order to build a bright future.