When you first get sober, there are many changes that your body goes through. Some you may be prepared for, such as withdrawal symptoms and mood changes, and some you may not. Participating in group therapy will be helpful, as you can talk openly and honestly about your struggles. Other members in your group can relate, reducing loneliness and isolation.
Below are five shocking things that can happen when you first get sober.
1. Intense Mood Swings
If you think the mood swings that happen in addiction are bad, the early recovery period is certainly no picnic. It’s not uncommon for people in early recovery to feel like they’re going crazy, as their moods and emotions are all over the place. Keep in mind that your brain and body are adjusting to life without drugs or alcohol, so it will take time for things to balance out.
Furthermore, the type of drug you were addicted to can influence the intensity and frequency of your mood swings. Many drugs have a rebound effect that people aren’t aware of. For example, if you were addicted to Xanax, you may experience a surge of panic and anxiety, the symptoms the medication is intended to treat.
2. Stranger to Yourself
Many people share that they feel awkward in their bodies as they get sober. They may feel disconnected from themselves and others, and this is completely normal. Addiction is an isolating disease that strips away your layers. If you’ve been using drugs or alcohol for many years, it will take time to get to know yourself again.
In the meantime, you may also feel awkward around others. But this is what group therapy is for! Here, you meet other people, practice interpersonal skills, and build new friendships. The skills you learn in therapy can then be implemented in the real world, allowing you to gradually build relationships that you are more comfortable in.
3. Dreams about Drinking or Drug Use
As if daytime cravings weren’t enough, you can also experience intense dreams of substance use while you sleep. ‘Drug dreams’ refer to realistic and vivid dreams where you’re using drugs or alcohol. They can be confusing and distressing, especially because they can prompt cravings when you wake up.
However, drug dreams are not a sign that you’re going to relapse. In fact, they may be a sign that you’re healing, as you’re concerned about the dream and don’t want to return to your old habits. In a way, these dreams are like a detox for your mind, so try not to place too much emphasis on them.
To cope with drug dreams, you can try journaling or meditating before bed. Participating in therapy will also help, as you can work on interpreting your dreams with your therapist and better understanding where they’re coming from. Ultimately, your body needs more time to recover. These dreams will go away in time.
4. Loss of Pleasure
Another uncomfortable part of getting sober is the inability to experience pleasure or joy. Anhedonia or emotional flattening is a symptom of major depressive disorder, but it can also happen in early sobriety. It’s believed to occur from a lack of dopamine in the brain.
While you were using drugs or alcohol, your brain relied on these substances to feel good. But now that you are sober, there is a shortage of dopamine, and your brain has to figure out how to start making it on its own again.
The best way to fight anhedonia is by creating some adrenaline. You can do this by getting your heart pumping and participating in activities like cycling, hiking or biking. Even watching a scary movie or playing a card game with friends can create this rush.
5. Weight Loss or Gain
Drugs and alcohol can cause people to gain or lose weight. For instance, amphetamines tend to suppress appetite, causing weight loss. Excess alcohol can cause bloating and weight gain. And for some individuals, they may be battling both a substance use disorder and an eating disorder.
When you get sober, it’s typically the physical aspects of health that improve first. Detox removes the toxins from the body so that it can start healing. You may notice that you’re putting on weight or losing weight. The fluctuations will pass, but as long as you’re getting your body healthy by eating right and exercising, it should be nothing to worry about.
The initial days, weeks and months of sobriety are difficult, but they are also life-changing and transformative. If you are ready to face your addiction and build a healthy foundation for sobriety, contact Awakenings Treatment Center today.