Post-Rehab Rollercoaster: How to Deal With Your Emotions in Long-Term Recovery

Girl with eyes closed contemplating the challenges of long-term recovery.

Rehab is tough, but sometimes the emotions that come along after rehab are tougher. When you go back to your home and resume activities like work, hobbies and social activities, feelings can be stirred up that you have not had to confront in rehab.

Another reason for rollercoaster emotions after rehab is that your body is still adjusting to the lack of drugs and alcohol in your system, which may have deadened your ability to perceive the emotions and decreased your ability to deal with them.

The problem is, these emotions can lead to the temptation to relapse in order to escape the emotions and self-medicate, which can make the adjustment after rehab difficult. Learning to deal with rollercoaster emotions is necessary for your long-term sobriety and overall well-being.

Effective Ways to Deal With Overwhelming Emotions

Guy looking surprised

Part of aftercare from rehab is learning to handle strong emotions.

Aftercare Support

As part of your aftercare program, you may attend support group meetings like SMART Recovery or 12-step programs. SMART Recovery teaches techniques to think through emotions and process them so they do not get overwhelming. Other aftercare therapy groups and one-on-one counseling sessions can help with this process as well.

Make Time for You

Finding ways to relax and get some distance from your emotions is another effective coping mechanism. Taking a walk, sitting outside on a nice day, or engaging in a workout from yoga to running or weight training are ways that you can calm yourself or get rid of some of the energy that would otherwise fuel your emotional turmoil.

Find a Network

Strong emotions are not easy to deal with without help, and you really shouldn’t try to go it alone. Use the resources you have, whether it is your aftercare counselor, 12-step sponsor, or a friend with a listening ear. You are not going to be able to deny or stuff down your emotions without negative impacts on your sobriety, but it may take some time to figure out what coping skills are going to work best for you.

Let Time Help

Time is another factor on your side. The intensity of your emotions will fade the longer you are sober, as your body readjusts to sobriety and the lack of drugs or alcohol. While you should not just try to wait it out without doing anything to help you process and work through the feelings, it may help to realize that things will get better rather than worse over time.

When your emotions begin to stabilize, it will help your sobriety and make continued recovery easier. If you find that several months have gone by and things do not seem to be getting any better, it may be time to investigate the possibility of a mood disorder or other mental health difficulty, which may mean more targeted treatments to help get your emotions stabilized so they do not threaten your recovery.

The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake provides Colorado addiction treatment resources for every stage of the recovery process, including aftercare and co-occurring disorders.  Contact us today to learn more.