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Addiction is when the use of substances, such as alcohol or prescription drugs, becomes compulsive and difficult to control. Repeated use of these substances can lead to changes in the brain that can impact processes like self-control and your ability to experience pleasure. There are often serious and harmful consequences of addiction on your health, relationships, and lifestyle. Emotions and emotion management can play a big part in addiction.

You might begin using substances for a variety of reasons. You may be using substances as a way to celebrate happy occasions or relieve stress. Sometimes people turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with difficult experiences or situations, which can make things worse.

Emotion Management in Addiction and Recovery

The relationship between your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in addiction is very important to understand. Your thoughts can trigger emotional responses, and sometimes your emotions can cause you to develop unhealthy thought patterns. Thoughts and feelings have a profound impact on your behavior. This is especially true in addiction cycles.

Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) is a common form of psychotherapy that focuses specifically on these relationships. CBT is often used in the treatment of addiction to help you identify faulty thinking and difficult emotions that perpetuate the cycle of substance abuse behaviors. Then you will set and achieve goals that will help you change those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Emotion Management and Relapse Prevention

There are five commonly recognized rules of recovery that can help you prevent relapse, which are:

  1. Change your life
  2. Be completely honest
  3. Ask for help
  4. Practice self-care
  5. Don’t bend the rules

These guidelines can be helpful when addressing emotion management in early recovery.

#1. Change Your Life

When thinking about how to make changes to your life that will help you manage your emotions in healthy ways, there are several things to consider. You can make changes to your life to reduce unnecessary stress or put personal boundaries in place that will help you avoid triggering negative emotions. Having daily routines and crisis management coping skills in place to help you manage negative routines can also be helpful.

#2. Be Completely Honest

Being completely honest is important in early recovery, and this includes being honest with yourself about how you are feeling. It is important to give yourself space to recognize and experience your emotions. This will allow you to process negative emotions instead of trying to ignore them.

#3. Ask For Help

Asking for help is essential in every part of early recovery. If you are struggling with anything, you need to lean on the people you have that can support you in maintaining your sobriety. Support groups, friends, family, and mental health professionals can be extremely influential in how you respond to strong emotions. Don’t be afraid to ask for support if you need it.

#4. Practice Self-Care

Taking care of yourself is a great way to relieve stress and prevent relapse. Negative emotions often get amplified and can feel overwhelming if you are also hungry, tired, or feeling mentally strained. Making sure your physical, mental, and emotional needs are being met on a regular basis can help you manage unexpected negative emotions.

#5. Don’t Bend the Rules

You should always stick to your treatment and recovery plan. Attend groups, therapy, and any appointments that are part of your plan. When thinking about this guideline in terms of emotion management, you need to decide for yourself that negative emotions, experiences, or situations are not a reason to bend the rules for yourself. When you are struggling, you can be extra vulnerable to triggers, and it is even more important to follow your plan during these times.

5 Ways to Manage Emotions in Recovery

In order to get back on track during treatment, it is important to rediscover your emotions and learn healthy ways to deal with them.

Here are five strategies for emotion management, keeping in mind the five rules of recovery.

  1. Avoid people, places, or situations that trigger negative emotions. Be mindful of your triggers and avoid them when possible.
  2. Add exercise to your daily routine. Physical exercise is a great way to take care of your mind and body. It can increase your resilience and help you manage your emotional health.
  3. Reach out for support. Sometimes, if you are having a hard day, venting to a friend can make all the difference in the world. Make sure you are talking with someone who is aware of your goals and fully able to support you in sobriety.
  4. Journal your feelings. Journaling can be a great way to keep track of what you are feeling so you can recognize patterns and be aware of the influences on your thoughts and feelings.
  5. Attend all meetings and appointments. This is especially the case when you don’t feel like it. Being able to talk about your frustrations with people who are already in place to help you navigate difficult situations is essential to preventing relapse.

West Coast Recovery Centers

At West Coast Recovery Centers, we offer a variety of traditional and holistic modalities designed to meet our client’s needs and give them options that will best suit their lifestyle and core values. We offer evidence-based treatment components to help our clients learn to manage their emotions safely and without the use of substances.

West Coast Recovery Centers’ Alumni Program enables our clients to continue to support each other on their individual paths to sobriety. We provide community events such as hiking, mountain retreats, softball games, and fun at the beach. We also have weekly alumni progress groups run by our alumni coordinator. Our goal is to provide support systems that our clients can rely on for continued success in long-term sobriety.

Emotion management is an important aspect of addiction recovery. Individuals who struggle with addiction often have difficulty managing their emotions in a healthy way. Emotion management skills can help individuals identify and express emotions in a healthy and appropriate manner and use coping strategies to manage difficult emotions. This can be a key element in the recovery process and in maintaining long-term recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, contact West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509. We offer resources that will support you in learning more about the causes of substance abuse and addiction, including emotion management skills through a variety of techniques, including mindfulness.

West Coast Recovery Centers ( 370135CP), Valid through July 31, 2025
Jackson House Visalia (540056AP), Valid through May 15, 2025
DHCS Licensing and Certification Division