The first days, weeks and even months of recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction include varying degrees of withdrawal symptoms and emotional upheaval. Depending on the substance used and other factors such as length of time used, social environment, economics, genetics and personal history, withdrawal symptoms can range from mild shakes and nausea for a day or two to serious, sometimes fatal, conditions. In the most serious cases, the body’s major organs have begun to shut down, and individuals in this condition need medically monitored detox. Even in the mildest cases, a vicious hangover from drinking or using takes its toll on the mind and body. The early stages of recovery are a time to be gentle and allow the body, mind and emotions to heal. They all have been damaged in the chaos of addiction.
SELF-CARE IN RECOVERY FROM ADDICTION TAKES TIME
Addiction to alcohol or drugs does not happen overnight. Addiction is a progressive disease. It’s insidious. It plays tricks with logical thinking. The No. 1 symptom is denial. Likewise, recovery does not happen instantaneously, either. Just putting down the drink or refusing to pick up the drug does not constitute healthy sober living. Quitting during the week and partying on the weekends does not constitute recovery. Recovery is a one day at a time proposition, and it takes desire, willingness and commitment. Often an initial “pink cloud” period takes effect, when the body feels energized, thinking is less fuzzy, and the emotional roller coaster has fewer pitches and turns. It can last for days, even weeks or months. Eventually, though, some life event will trigger the old familiar patterns of addiction. Preparing a plan in advance helps ward off the temptation. Paying attention to basic nutrition, rest, exercise and healthy choices in how to spend leisure time is vital in early sobriety. Self-care is a safeguard against relapse.