What To Expect in Early Recovery

The fight against addiction can feel like an uphill battle. Whether you are an addict trying to regain sobriety, or you know someone that is, it doesn’t take long to find out that fighting addiction can have unexpected effects in multiple areas of our lives. Forming new habits and coping with withdrawal can be difficult, but long-term sobriety becomes more manageable if you can identify relapse triggers and stay on top of them. 

It’s normal to be apprehensive when you first begin recovery, but those feelings are temporary. Once you notice the benefits of a sobriety-filled life, you will be more motivated to keep yourself clean. Recovery is difficult to measure and can mean different things to each individual. If you are in the early stages of recovery, don’t worry, it gets easier with time. Here are a few of the things that you should expect during the early stages of addiction recovery.


Withdrawals are possibly the largest barrier faced by addicts trying to quit. Though many people truly want to quit, their bodies have developed a dependence on the substance that they are abusing. After regular use, your body can develop a tolerance to substances like alcohol and opioids. Once you stop using, your body begins its detoxification process within 24 hours, beginning the symptoms of withdrawal. 

These symptoms are only temporary and will dissipate with time, but they can be extremely intense. Some situations may call for a medically assisted detox so that the withdrawal symptoms do not have more lasting effects. Such symptoms include hallucinations, mood swings, loss of appetite, headaches, depression, anxiety, paranoia, insomnia, and sometimes even seizures. Intense cravings are another symptom of withdrawal. These cravings can make early recovery difficult and lead to relapse. To deal with this, practice a skill called urge surfing. Think of an urge or craving as a wave, and you are a surfer. The urge comes, and though it may seem big and like it’s sucking you out to sea, you just have to ride it out. The wave will end, you just need to stay on the board until it passes. 

An Emotional Rollercoaster

Early recovery is usually full of high highs and low lows. Mood swings and outbursts of emotion are linked to withdrawal and a sudden change in habit. During this segment of your recovery, it is important to have a strong set of coping mechanisms to fall back on. Healthy coping mechanisms are key ingredients in a successful recovery and help us maintain balance through the ups and downs. 

Many people become addicted to substances because they use them to cope with emotions. Without the crutch of substance abuse, dealing with emotions in the stages of early recovery is easier said than done. Anxiety and depression are also quite common at this stage. Recovery can sometimes feel like a lost cause or too difficult to manage when we think about how far we have left to go, but taking things one step at a time can help. Every moment that you can resist your impulses and cravings is a win. Living in the moment and being mindful of your mental processes can help you keep yourself in check. 

Shift Relationship Dynamics

Deciding to go sober can have an impact on your relationships, both good and bad. Relations with friends and family that may have been strained due to your substance abuse might begin to heal. On the contrary, your old drinking buddies and people that may have used with you in the past might not be as excited about your sudden change in life direction. As time passes these relationships might deteriorate, and that is okay. 

The recovery experience is a sure way to discover who your real friends are. Try not to let this discourage you. Building new relationships with those in recovery and strengthening bonds with close friends and family is one of the most rewarding aspects of sobriety. While building relationships and connections with supportive people are essential to the recovery process, dating is not recommended for those in recovery. There are a few pitfalls that dating can lead to during recovery such as:

  • Relying on a partner to stay sober- many addicts attempt to have their partners keep them sober. When this happens, partners are often blamed for relapse even though it is out of their control.
  • Replacing one coping mechanism for another- substance abuse is often a way of coping with our emotions. Jumping into a relationship can be used as a way of avoiding confrontation with the emotions that you are trying to suppress. 
  • Avoiding emotions related to recovery- relationships can take up most of our emotional capacity. During recovery, it is important to stay focused on self-improvement and finding healthy ways to handle our emotions. 

Due to these factors, many in recovery find themselves playing their relationship before their recovery, which is why experts recommend abstaining from developing romantic relations throughout your recovery. 

Indicators of Addiction Recovery

Perhaps the most rewarding part of the early stages of recovery is finally seeing the fruits of your labor. Recovery is subjective and can mean different things to different people. Not everyone will experience recovery the same way or have the same recovery goals. Though this process is experienced differently by everyone, some general indicators suggest that an addict is on track for recovery. Here are a few indicators that you are successfully heading down the path toward sobriety:

  • Keeping up with mental health
  • Coping with problems without turning to drugs/alcohol
  • Feeling emotionally stable
  • Maintaining a daily routine
  • Feeling positive 
  • Not using street drugs
  • Not experiencing cravings
  • Eating a good diet
  • Sleeping well 
  • Taking care of physical health
  • Taking care of your appearance
  • Getting along well with others 
  • Renewed interest in hobbies and activities that do not involve drugs or alcohol 
  • Participation in education or work

Find Alcohol Treatment and Addiction Recovery in Newark, DE

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol or opioid addiction, American Treatment Network is here to help. At American Treatment Network, we provide integrated health care for our patients at four locations. We supply our patients with everything they need so that they can get the support necessary to overcome opioid and alcohol addiction. Our team of specialists uses evidence-based methods in combination with other effective forms of intervention for alcohol addiction and opioid rehab. If you or someone you know is battling addiction, visit our addiction and alcohol recovery centers in Havertown or Chester, PA, Newark or Dove,r DE. Deciding to get help can be difficult. We’re here to make the treatment process easy. To schedule an appointment at one of our treatment centers please visit our website and schedule your first appointment today.


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