This is, without a doubt, the hard part.
You’re no longer drinking, but years of alcohol abuse have taken a toll on your brain’s natural ability to experience pleasure. You’re stuck in the middle—somewhere between past and future happiness. The one thing you know for sure is that you are definitely not happy right now.
“In early recovery, you may experience the pay-off to be drastically less than what you anticipated,” explains Whitney Harrah, LPC, CACIII, Assistant Executive Director.
For those who try to quit on their own, that means struggling through day after day of feeling lousy—alone.
Harrah has worked in the addiction field since 1999. So she knows better than to sugar-coat the truth: Rehab is hard work.
There will be some immediate rewards, Harrah says. You’ll sleep better, eat better and feel less angry. What you won’t be—at least not all that often—is in a good mood.
If you can hang in there, however, you may turn a corner at right around two months. “People start experiencing dividends between 60 and 90 days of abstinence from substances,” Harrah says.
That might mean enjoying a good book. Or finding yourself having fun as you dine with new friends. Or laughing at a joke. Slowly, but surely, your brain will adjust and allow you to find pleasure in everyday life.
3 Ways Alcohol Rehab Can Help
Getting through your first 60 days at rehab may be challenging, but you do not have to do it alone. There are three ways, says Harrah, that rehab can help immensely.
First of all, you’ll have professional help. “I think it’s always best when a therapist can give you a road map of anticipated high-risk intervals—where a person may experience increased cravings/triggers, temporary returns to old reaction patterns and traps that may increase relapse potential,” Harrah says.
And while you’re going through all of that, you’ll be surrounded by people who understand how you feel. “Experiencing genuine and empathic relationships with others who are also in recovery can be a critical protective factor in sustaining long term recovery,” Harrah adds.
Lastly, although there is no magic bullet, you will likely have tools to help you feel better, including meals tailored towards the needs of those in recovery, amino acids and other supplements and opportunities to exercise and kick-start those natural endorphins.
Slowly, over time, your brain will be firing like it used to. Your life may not be perfect (whose is?), but it will improve.
“Your relationships become more genuine and your connections become more authentic and meaningful,” Harrah says. “And you’ll become grateful for the little things.”
Recovery at The Raleigh House
The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver that focuses on all aspects of recovery, including mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being. You’ll be assigned a master’s level therapist and, together, make a plan for your recovery. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the alcohol addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.