- Are you struggling with addiction?
- Do your emotions control you or you control them?
- Do you like or enjoy that power of anger? But regret it later?
- Are you doing “stupid” things so quickly and mechanically that you feel hopeless about even being able to stop?
- Are your eating and sleeping habits out of your control?
Emotional regulation is an essential ingredient of addiction recovery. Emotional regulation means learning to manage and put up with emotional distress. In addiction recovery, addicts have to manage their negative feelings without taking drugs. On the other hand in active addiction, they are used to manage their emotional problems with the help of drugs. Poor emotional regulation is often a major contribution to the development of addiction. To cope with difficult feelings they may fall back on substance abuse. Emotional regulation is one of the cornerstones of addiction recovery.
Basically, early recovery is challenging for recovering addicts. In fact, this is a kind of bumpy ride where people can experience unusual high and low tides of mood. This leads them towards or tough practice of emotional control. It is inevitable to learn the management of emotions because relapse might be followed in case of failure in learning emotional management.
Emotional Regulation is a multi-faceted term which has the following Dimensions.
- Modulation of Emotional Regulation:
As far as addicts are concerned they believe either to have all or nothing. Because in their surfing emotions it takes a long time to bring them back to the normal level. They are overwhelmed by the hype of emotions and thus face the impair functioning.
- Tolerance of frustration:
Tolerance about the unwanted and frustrating situation is an ideal skill which is learned with the passage of time. As we grow older we master this art and become skillful enough to keep our level of self-control at a safe limit while encountering the frustrating situation.
- Be able to delay gratification:
Addicts are religiously following this rule. It is very important to learn to give a delay towards your goal and objectives if sound planning and efforts are becoming big trouble. If a person is not following this art he may not be able to spend a successful life.
Addicts normally become emotionally immature for doing defective planning and inefficient effort towards the achievement of their obligations.
- Self reliability and accountability:
It is very important to master the ability to deal with everyday requirements e.g. to be in committed time and place, meet the targets of obligations, etc. moreover the ability to check out the effects of our actions on others and on our surroundings also push us towards emotional regulation. On the other hand, addicts normally do not practice this ability as they are more self-centered and more at risk of failure at every day’s minute dealings. They also do not think about the effects of their actions on others.
- Impulses control:
A sound and mentally healthy person is emotionally sound and mature enough to mark the difference between urging for something and fulfilling that urge. This is because there are some urges which cannot be fulfilled in society or its fulfillment might have been stigmatized in society. A mature self has the ability to mark boundaries between doing and not doing according to the circumstances. This skill leads towards logical choices. An addict cannot make such a logical choice by being impulsive.
Dos of Emotional Regulation in Recovery
- Attending the follow-ups. It provides opportunities to learn better-coping skills to manage recovery challenges. These strategies can be used to deal with the emotional upheavals of early recovery.
- Regularly attend the A and N.A. It is a great way of support. Newly Sober individuals can advise them who have faced the same challenges.
- Honest sharing with therapist and family can help to talk about the problems quite openly. It can also help to learn effective ways of dealing with strong emotions.
- In recovery, guilt can be very destructive. It is one of the major relapse triggers. So, it should be dealt skillfully. To avoid guilt the most important thing is to just focus on the present, not on the past and future.
- Complaint behavior regarding medicines. Addicts may show resistance to prescribed medication, due to assumed side effects referring to the internet.
Good news is that by following the treatment protocols and principles one doesn’t need drugs and alcohol in order to cope with his/her difficult and unpleasant feelings.