What to Expect in the Emotional Rollercoaster of Early Sobriety

emotions in early sobriety

Can you picture an amusement park? Cotton candy and cheap life-sized versions of stuffed animals everywhere. There’s the faint smell of throw up and loud screams echoing about in the background. The bulk of your time spent standing in line for hours for the ride that last 2 minutes. Ah, good times good times.

The roller coasters are the thrilling life-threatening experience that some of us crave- they make camping out in these lines for the quick cheap high almost worth it. There’s the ups, the downs, the loopty-loops, the unexpected change in speeds- it can all be so much fun or terrifying for others. However, fun aside, take that roller coaster of an idea and apply it to our thoughts and emotions in early sobriety.

While in the thick of addiction, most succumb to the complete numbing of the chemicals we choose to imbibe in. Without any recognition of the fact, our emotions quickly dissolve into non-existence. Whether intentional or not, alcoholic thinking will prevail and mute our feelings away. Once we decide to finally turn it all around and choose recovery, it is then that we must buckle up for the roller coaster starting its slow climb. Early sobriety is not for the weak of heart.

You Must Be THIS Sober to Ride

Dropping the booze and mind-altering substances doesn’t put us program people in the clear completely. There’s a lot of introspection and self-awareness that must be done to prevent us from returning to the desolate lives we once knew. It’s almost like a form of rebirth as we start discovering ourselves again. We begin to really understand the gears that make our clock tick. Once our feelings come back, the flood of sensations and ambitions that spawn can be overwhelming of course.

Emotions are a tricky thing. Most people don’t realize that emotions are one of the strongest cognitive abilities human beings are capable of. Our emotions are something we have the ability to feel mentally AND physically. You think about a purgatory-like room with white walls and for most, there’s little to no emotion. Then think about how much of a jerk Roger was being at work yesterday- completely different stimulus. The anger can give us hot flashes and make our thoughts fly around more impulsively. Learning to control the reactions we have from our emotions in early sobriety is the skill to be practiced.

To Feel or Not to Feel

When we became sober and rid all the toxicants from our bodies, the emotions in early sobriety appeared out of nowhere. Emotions for addicts/alcoholics are the ultimate vanishing and reappearing act. It’s no secret that alcohol and narcotics numb us but they never disappeared entirely. Upon getting sober we start noticing positive feelings we thought were long lost such as:

  • Love
  • Trust
  • Surprise
  • Optimism
  • Admiration

Just to name a few. Unfortunately, we also begin experiencing the gut-wrenching heavy emotions such as:

  • Rage
  • Apprehension
  • Disgust
  • Grief
  • Remorse

It’s our ying and yangs to life as both joy and fear-based emotions are reintroduced in early sobriety. All of the emotions can be a positive thing if harnessed in the right way though. It doesn’t have to be such a roller coaster if we keep everything in control.

girl with varying emotions

Staying Buckled Up

Emotions in early sobriety are a matter of comprehending and understanding all the feelings that arise. It’s a matter of understanding ourselves and dealing healthily with the good, the bad, and the ugly that life curveballs at us. Not losing it and falling into a downward spiral because something unfortunate occurred. Being able to agree with the concentrated mood swings and the spine-chilling feels, that’s the idea behind it. Understanding that emotional roller coaster is a matter of accepting our emotions in a sense. Life can be all about perspective for some.  

We walk into every situation in life with a preconceived expectation, good or bad, about how it will turn out. Understanding these emotions in early sobriety can be just a matter of opening up to others’ perceptions at times. This can be from eating a piece of chocolate to visiting family to whatever, you name it. The idea is that emotions will sneak up on us and catch us off guard- it’s all about how they’re channeled.

All Over the Place

Learning to cope with life’s stresses and becoming present in the moment is a tough one, but that’s what it takes to slow that roller coaster of feelings down. Positive or negative emotions, it can throw even the wisest off their game. Those recovering in early sobriety learn the tools for living in the present moment and accepting things for what they are. Not all are so fortunate to really get to understand themselves and dissect their problems like a 12 step program can teach most addicts and alcoholics.

Many people get clean and continue to live a dirty lifestyle and they become victim to their emotions. It’s a constant conscious effort to deal with life on life’s terms. It’s understandable to be caught off guard, but when you’re recovering it can be just the smallest thing that sends you into a quick nose dive. It’s truly amazing how keeping a positive outlook on things makes the world a difference. Keeping in mind that all our emotions are fleeting, feel them and embrace them with warmth in early sobriety. If done right, this may be the last time we have to ride this roller coaster.

Don’t Become Comfortably Numb

Once our emotions have gone completely numb, there’s no doubt that change is needed soon. Recovering from chemical dependency will help us to be able to truly feel again. It takes getting clean and sober for our senses and true happiness come back to us. If you or a loved one is struggling with chemical dependency and are ready for help, please call 1-888-481-1993 or visit www.coastaldetox.com. We are ready to give you any suggestions possible and set you or your loved one on a path that we can all be proud of.