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Relapse Prevention Technique: Coping with Disappointment

A sad man being comforted by an older gentleman.
Feeling bad is inevitable, but feeling stuck in negative emotions is not.

Disappointment is part of life. No one escapes it. Everyone must deal with it.

But what happens if, for years, you used drugs or alcohol to numb yourself to emotional pain? How can you cope with feelings such as sadness, loss and hurt?

There is no bridge over suffering (Alcohol and drugs may have seemed like one, but you know by now that they always take way more than they give). Like everyone else, you’ll have to work your way through it. But there are tools to make it easier.

Disappointment and Addiction Relapse Tools

Take a long deep breath. Then do it again.

It’s OK to experience these feelings. Being in recovery doesn’t mean you’ll feel great all the time. It means you’ll have the ability to accept and work through negative feelings.

Did you just find out you didn’t get a job you applied for? It’s OK to be disappointed and to live with that feeling for a bit. It’s not OK to tell yourself that you’re a loser or that you’ll never get a job you’ll enjoy.

Don’t panic and wonder why you’re feeling bad. You’re feeling bad because you experienced a set back.

Take one more deep breath—then read on for tools you can use to make it through this period of disappointment.

Plug in to Your Support System

Whether it’s a family member, friend or the support you find at meetings, everyone needs a support system.

Barton Goldsmith, PhD, is an “emotional fitness” expert. In an article for Psychology Today, he implores everyone (not just those in recovery) to talk about their problems. “Just know that you can minimize your problems by discussing them with those you trust,” he writes. “Give your pain a voice, and let someone listen. You will be amazed at how much weight will be lifted off your shoulders.”

Practice Being Positive

You’ve probably been hearing it since you were five—you can see a glass as half empty or half full.

As sick as we all are of hearing that, it’s true. And one way to train our minds to see the glass as half full is by taking five minutes each day to think about the things we’re grateful for. You can do that in a journal, on an app or even in meditation or prayer.

It’s easy to think about people you know who seem to have it all and get in a funk about how unfair life is. But that’s a rabbit hole you’ll have to train your mind to avoid.

As Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Get Moving

Michael Otto, PhD, is a professor of psychology at Boston University. In an article published by the American Psychological Association, he makes the case that exercise should become a standard part of mental health treatment.

“The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong,” Otto says. “Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.”

And there are long-term benefits, too. Research shows that exercise can help alleviate depression.

Consider Therapy

If nothing is making you feel better, schedule an appointment with a therapist. When people have a legal issue pop up, some turn to their attorney for help because they don’t have the legal expertise of their own to handle their situation. Think of a therapist the same way. They’re trained to help people work through things they may not be able to handle on their own.

Hope and Healing at The Raleigh House

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to achieve full recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, a person must learn life skills so he or she can overcome internal and external challenges or barriers.

That’s exactly what happens at a good treatment program.

At The Raleigh House in Denver, we believe addiction isn’t just a physical problem. Our master’s level trained therapists get to the root cause of addiction and will help you develop a strategy to manage and enjoy life without drugs or alcohol. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the treatment programs at The Raleigh House.

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