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Processing Feelings in Recovery

by James Heller 21. September 2009 07:21
Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles is participating in Recovery Month 2009, in part, with articles about recovery during the month of September.  Most individuals suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction begin their recovery with alcohol and drug treatment.  So it is our pleasure to help bring awareness to the general public about the benefits of recovery to individuals, their families, and everyone with whom they interact.

Feelings can be downright scary to alcoholics and addicts.  Whether active in their disease or in recovery, all emotions can drive them to use their substance of choice.  There is a reason for this syndrome, and better solutions than “tuning out”.

The disease of addiction is marked by the lack of a certain defense from emotions in its sufferers.  Feelings of all types can be overwhelming at any time.  The manifestation is rather complicated.  But, in large part, alcoholics drink alcohol and addicts use drugs to escape these seemingly overwhelming feelings.

Whether it is happiness, sadness, anger, love, or any other feeling, alcohol or drugs (along with some behaviors) are used by addicts to suppress them.  These feelings rarely get processed, and the end result is a body full of “stuffed” feelings.  This effect continues as long as alcohol, drugs or behaviors are used as a solution.

During the process of alcohol or drug detox, all of the stuffed feelings begin to surface much like a volcano.  In a medical detoxification center, having counselors available to help patients process these intense feelings is critical.  This is a time when addicts feel a desperate need to find a solution to this problem of feelings.

Even in recovery, when all past feelings have been processed and dealt with, daily life can bring challenges to alcoholics and drug addicts.  The urge to suppress feelings continues for life unless tools are learned to process them.

There are two simple steps that can help recovering individuals to process feelings as they arise:
1. Identify the Feeling
2. Feel the feeling

If you are happy, smile and laugh.  If you are sad, find a friend or quiet place and cry.  If you are angry, try to understand where the anger comes from.  Don’t act on anger.  Just process it.  Two items that can help you identify feelings is a pen and a notepad.  Writing about your feelings also helps in processing.

Identifying feelings is a challenge at first because the habit has been to avoid them for so long.  But it gets easier over time.  Fear of feelings minimizes quickly because you will see that there is nothing to fear.  The best result is that you get to know yourself, and others get to know you.
Do not let slip-ups in this area get you down.  Understanding your feelings, and being comfortable with them, will help you learn to laugh at yourself.  Find a friend in recovery and talk about it.  Then write about it.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles staffs counselors in alcohol and drug detox as part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare in alcohol and drug treatment.  Mental health professionals are also available for patients with co-occurring disorders.  If you need help with drug addiction or alcoholism, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.