Managing Anxiety in Recovery Requires Patience and Good Coping Skills

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Managing anxiety in recovery is an important aspect of the healing process. Withdrawal from alcohol and drugs can send individuals back to the substances they used for curbing anxiety in the first place, due to the even greater anxiety that often comes with withdrawal. The biological explanation is that during withdrawal, the brain over-fires a combination of neurotransmitters and chemicals that put stress on the brain function.  Aches, pains, shaking and other physical problems compound the anxiety, and sitting through the pain and discomfort may seem overwhelming. The person trying to recover may go to the quick fix: a pill, a drink, or a needle. Managing anxiety in recovery is critical and requires patience.

The behavioral explanation for the anxiety that accompanies withdrawal is that those who abuse substances to relieve anxiety simply don’t have effective coping skills. Their way to manage anxiety prior to recovery was to take a drink or drug. Over time, this turned into an addiction. Managing anxiety during the recovery process requires an individual to cultivate ways to cope with stress and the anxiety that comes with it.

Recent medical studies suggest that meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain. Anyone can meditate when anxious simply by sitting in silence, closing the eyes, and clearing the mind. Studies also show that physical exercise alleviates anxiety, as does a diet devoid of caffeine or sugar. Healthy distractions are another way to manage anxiety during recovery. Engaging in a hobby, reading, or calling friends can distract someone until the anxiety passes.

It’s sometimes necessary to deal with anxiety through medication. Certain medications can be helpful but don’t necessarily cure the underlying cause of an anxiety disorder. Psychological counseling and therapy may be a necessary adjunct to anti-anxiety medications. Medical professionals should be advised of an individual’s addiction history before prescribing.

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