In the past, you might have learned to have a drink when you're feeling uncomfortable in your skin. Perhaps feelings of shame or embarrassment were washed away with a couple glasses of wine. Or perhaps your anxiety felt like too much to handle and you decided to use drugs to feel more calm and in control. If in the past, emotions were the trigger for drinking or drug use, then in recovery, learning how to manage those emotions will be crucial towards relapse prevention.
The following is a list of common feelings that have led to cravings for many people. These are the kinds of feelings that many people might want to escape from through drinking or drug use.
Sometimes, these feelings are so deeply woven into a person's experience and view of themselves and others that it may be hard to identify. You might not yet have the self-awareness to recognize that shame or resentment is leading you to substance use. However, in recovery, this will be necessary. Developing emotional awareness can strengthen your ability to say no to cravings when they arise as a result of certain feelings.
If you're used to turning to drugs or alcohol when a certain feeling comes up, then you might have developed an association between substance use and anger. The goal for relapse prevention is to become aware of these associations in yourself. You might ask yourself the following questions:
The first step is to become aware of the answers to these questions. Once you're aware of what you're doing and why, you can change it. The next time you're feeling angry, for example, you might replace drinking alcohol with going for a walk. Or the next time you're feeling regret you might replace getting high with talking about your feelings with a friend you trust. The point is to do something different. Instead of using drugs or drinking when you're feeling these emotions, choose a new behavior.
If you need assistance with developing awareness, relapse prevention or answering the above questions, contact your sponsor, drug counselor, or mental health provider for support.