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Anxiety in Addiction Recovery

A young man talks with his therapist.
Talking with your therapist can be one of your best tools to manage anxiety in early recovery.


You’ve decided to get sober. You’ve done the right thing. You’re on the right path. So why do you feel such a crippling sense of dread?

Unfortunately, feelings of anxiety can be common in early recovery. The good news is that they won’t last forever.

Here’s how to manage your anxiety—and make it through to the feelings of peace and calm that you’ve been waiting for and working toward.

Find the Right Rehab

An estimated 7.9 million adults in the United States suffer from both substance abuse and a co-occurring mental health condition, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

That raises a pretty big question: Did your addiction come first or did something—possibly an anxiety disorder—drive you to addiction?

The point is that it’s very difficult to achieve lasting sobriety unless any co-occurring conditions are found and treated. And, the truth is, most people don’t exactly show up at rehab with a diagnosis in hand.

The solution? Do a little bit of research (or have someone help you) and choose a rehab facility that specializes in dual-diagnosis treatment.

Managing Anxiety in Early Recovery

With all that said, it’s very common to suffer from anxiety in early recovery—whether you have a co-occurring condition or not. Here are a few strategies for dealing with it:

  • Don’t try to dodge it or escape it. That’s the old way of doing things. Instead, openly acknowledge your anxiety. Try to figure out what’s causing it. If you’re in rehab, you have both individual and group therapy opportunities. Take advantage of them.
  • Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Eat a proper diet. If you’re still in rehab, see if there is a nutritionist you can consult with. Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine.
  • Be kind to yourself. Don’t overschedule your time and make sure you build in time for activities you enjoy, including things like listening to music, reading or visiting with friends.
  • Live in the present. Of course we all have to plan for the future, but don’t wallow in past mistakes. And don’t ruminate over what might happen in the future. Prayer, yoga and deep breathing all help many people to be more mindful.
  • Exercise. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that even five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects. How easy. You don’t even need to put your sneakers on. You could simply jog in place during the commercials—or take a brisk walk with your dog.
  • Give yourself time. Realize that addiction has taken a toll on the way your mind works. That’s why many experts suggest finding a rehab program that’s at least 90 days. There will always be bad days (there is for everyone) but three months will give you a great start toward your new life.

Hope, Freedom and Peace at The Raleigh House

The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver that believes 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. The goal isn’t just a drug-free life. It’s a good life, filled with hope, freedom and peace. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the treatment options at The Raleigh House.

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