One of the biggest challenges I see patients confront is learning how to manage their emotions in healthier or more effective ways without turning to substance use or other behaviors as the primary way of coping.
In early recovery, self-regulation is a good core capacity to develop, because a recovering addict’s long-time go-to strategies for dealing with day-to-day occurrences, significant life events, relationship complexities, and so forth is to engage in some form of addictive behavior to deal with the feelings and reactions that come up. Learning to self-regulate emotion is a significant task when those primary modes of coping are no longer available, and a lot of people struggle with learning how to tolerate strong emotions and react effectively to them rather than anesthetize themselves or try to eliminate the feelings they don’t like. This is a really significant component of the work done in early recovery.
The process of coming to an awareness of the extent of these issues, and the steps required in treatment and recovery to address the issues and modify life, is a significant challenge that people tend to confront early on. How they navigate all those things becomes the long-term path they take in treatment and recovery, and it helps shape the different resources that the person can utilize for assistance.
From: INTERVIEW WITH IAN WOLDS, PSYD: THE UPS AND DOWNS OF SOBRIETY