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Anxiety in Sobriety

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Perhaps one of the most commonly reported ‘triggers’ for drinking and using drugs is anxiety or nervousness. It is not a pleasant feeling. Anxiety is a formidable obstacle to happiness, serenity, and sobriety, it can dominate our thoughts and permeate our emotional defenses. Sometimes it whispers “You’re not good enough, nobody is going to like you” or “You’re going to fail, why are you even trying?”, keeping us from leaving our comfort zone. As addicts and alcoholics, we quickly learn that certain drugs can reduce anxiety, leaving us with chemical apathy and artificial calm. Unfortunately, a life of active addiction often causes consequences and difficulties to arise, which increase anxiety even more. Avoiding jail time, waiting around on a drug dealer, trying to get money to stay high, and withdrawals can cause extreme amounts of stress. Eventually the drugs we initially used to numb the anxiety end up causing an untold amount of additional stress and worry.




In sobriety, just by stopping drugs and alcohol, much of that anxiety seems to lift from us. We no longer have to look over our shoulders or constantly lie and deceive others. We do not have to worry about going through withdrawals or suffering through hangovers. However, anxiety will arise in sobriety. The stress of a new job, monthly bills, relationship issues, and more will occur throughout the rest of our lives. In sobriety it is important to establish healthy ways to combat anxiety. If we are unprepared to deal with anxiety or stress, when it arises we may resort to using drugs and alcohol to erase the feelings. Learning to deal with anxiety without relying on narcotics, alcohol, or avoidance behavior is an important step in emotional maturity. So how can we deal with anxiety, fear, and nervousness in recovery?



Scientists and doctors have proven that activities like jogging, swimming, and yoga can seriously lower stress and anxiety! These light forms of exercise release our brains natural chemicals that relax us and give us a sense of calm.



Deep breathing and controlled breathing is known to slow down the body’s activity level and reduce heart-rate, pulse, and anxiety. There are tons of other benefits to deep breathing, like reducing risk of certain heart diseases.



I would recommend finding a hobby that you enjoy doing and that is not too demanding. For instance, musicians often find playing their instruments relaxing and artists paint to relieve anxiety. Some relaxing hobbies include: writing, reading, walking, music, gardening, and more.



Often misunderstood, meditation is a practice that may look different for everyone. Some people meditate by lying down and closing their eyes to slow their mind. Other people meditate on a song or quote that they like. I believe meditation is about focusing on something (or nothing) and reducing the amount of unrelated thoughts racing in our mind.

 Find a Therapist or Counselor


If your anxiety is severe or won’t seem to go away, maybe it is worth it to try seeking professional advice. A licensed therapists can help you come to terms with your problems and suggest healthy ways to deal with them and help you overcome it.

Homeopathic Medicine


As addicts and alcoholics, we have to be very careful about taking anti-anxiety medicine and sedatives. Luckily, there are a lot of good alternatives in non-narcotic vitamins and minerals that can deal with anxiety. Dozens of plant extracts and teas are known to have soothing properties and can reduce stress and worry.




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