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Emotions and Addiction Recovery: What to Expect on the Emotional Roller Coaster

Emotions and Addiction Recovery: What to Expect on the Emotional Roller Coaster
Recovering from substance abuse can be an emotional roller coaster.

The early stages of recovery may be more exciting than the later ones. As time progresses, you may have to work harder to sustain your sobriety, both physically and mentally. Coping with emotions in recovery can be daunting, but succumbing to any negative thoughts could threaten your progress. As a center for mental health treatment, we understand the connection between emotions and addiction recovery. That’s why we’ve highlighted what to expect on the emotional roller coaster of recovery and how to cope.

What to Expect on the Emotional Roller Coaster of Addiction Recovery

Individuals who have just completed a substance abuse or mental health treatment may consider the early stages of recovery to be the happiest. People who have just entered recovery after rehab are glowing with fresh excitement and optimism for what’s to come. It’s easy to stay determined and focused on your sobriety when you’ve just completed treatment. As time progresses, however, managing emotions and addiction recovery can begin to pose a challenge.

If you’ve just completed addiction treatment and are now in recovery, you may experience emotions like fear, joy, anger, excitement, guilt, worry, boredom, and loneliness, to name a few. The mind can be tricky, and our emotions may fluctuate depending on various factors in our lives. When things don’t go your way, you may feel anger. When you think back on your past behavior, you may feel guilty. At times, you may experience overwhelming feelings of joy and excitement because you’ve changed your life. Bottom line, you should expect to go through a variety of emotions that may not always be pleasant. The important thing is to find healthy ways to embrace and manage them.

How to Manage the Emotional Effects of Drug Addiction Recovery

Managing emotions in recovery can be done in a variety of ways. As long as your method of choice doesn’t cause harm or threaten your sobriety, there are plenty of positive avenues you can take.


Exercising is a great stress reliever. You can take a walk, do yoga, go hiking, go swimming, or even take up a sport to help keep you happy. Exercising releases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters in the brain that increase feelings of happiness and pleasure. Staying active also improves your physical health, which supports your mental health and the way you manage your emotions.


Journaling is another effective and popular method for coping with negative emotions. Logging your thoughts and emotions can help you better understand them. By writing down your daily experiences in recovery, you can look back at your writing and discover any patterns in your thoughts that may need to be addressed.

Mental illness and addiction are often connected. Even if you’ve received treatment for your substance abuse, you may benefit from a mental health residential program. Struggles with mental health can contribute to any emotional issues you may experience during your recovery. Discovering and treating any underlying mental disorders can benefit your sobriety and your overall health.

Have an Emergency Plan

Sometimes, you may feel so emotionally overwhelmed that you want to run out of the room. That’s why it can help to have a plan set in place for the moments where you feel like your control is slipping. If something is causing you stress, go to another room or walk outside and take a few minutes to breathe and calm down. It’s okay to separate yourself from a situation that may trigger any addiction cravings. Our immediate reactions aren’t always the wisest, and you can avoid saying or doing something you might regret by taking the time to recollect yourself.

Attend Group Meetings

Many addiction and mental health facilities offer an aftercare program that offers continued support during recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is also another popular organization that offers peer support for its members, regardless of the type of substance abuse they’re recovering from.

At Banyan Mental Health, we advocate for mental health and addiction treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with your mental health, call us today at 888-280-2360 to find out how we can help you.

Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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