Discomfort is something we all need to look at when getting clean and sober. More specifically, we need to look at our relationship to discomfort. Unfortunately, we all experience moments that are difficult. Maybe it’s anxiety, resentment, physical pain, or insomnia. Whatever it is, we’re all subject to the normal discomfort that humans experience in life.
If we don’t learn to cope with discomfort in a healthy way, our chances at a lasting recovery are slim.
Before Getting Sober
Before we get sober, we react to moments of discomfort by trying to feel differently. Maybe we used drugs and alcohol, maybe we experienced a process addiction, or maybe we threw temper tantrums. However we responded, it’s likely that it wasn’t healthy and helpful.
You don’t need to beat yourself up over this, but you can look and see it clearly. How did you respond when you experienced discomfort when you were using? It tends to be the case that we respond by using our drug of choice in order to cope.
During the detoxification process, it’s likely that you’ll experience substantial discomfort. Whether you’re coming off opioids, alcohol, or marijuana, you’re bound to find yourself experiencing things that don’t feel great. Suboxone withdrawal symptoms, for example, may include nausea, headaches, muscle pain, and more.
A professional detox facility will work with you to try to minimize the discomfort, but they cannot take it away completely. Part of the detoxification process is really just making it through the pain, anxiety, and cravings that you experience. We sometimes have to just bear down and make it through to the other side.
This isn’t without growth though. As we sit with the discomfort and don’t react by using drugs, we are re-training the brain and building new neuropathways. Every time we feel uncomfortable during detox and choose not to use, we are building our ability to be with pain without reacting out of habit. In fact, we’re building new habits!
Discomfort in Recovery
Just because we get clean and sober doesn’t mean we live free of all pain and worry. We’re bound to come up against moments of anxiety, worry, resentment, physical pain, and more. We can’t live our lives trying to avoid these things. Rather, we can learn to tolerate the pain and respond differently.
When you have a moment that doesn’t feel good, what can you do? Instead of using drugs and playing into our old habits, we can try something differently. Maybe you can call a sponsor or mentor, tell a friend you’re struggling, or sit in a period of meditation with it. There are so many options for how we can handle discomfort that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.
When we learn to work more wisely with discomfort, we are no longer shaken by each and every experience that arises. We can retain some level of stability and balance through the everyday chaos we may experience.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be sad. Actually, we should allow ourselves to feel how we are feeling. So much of our using is full of us trying to feel other than how we feel in this moment. You can dramatically change your relationship to discomfort by trying to investigate it and see if you can be with it without reacting.