Early Recovery Struggles Sober Living

Overcome the Pains of Early Recovery

Early Recovery: Struggles, Pains, And Overcoming Them

Recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism is always a good thing, but that isn’t to say will always be easy or smooth. The problem is that while certain things in life may be considered a standard or routine problem to handle, those in early recovery are not going to be used to handling the stress of daily life without their substance of choice to fall back onto. These struggles do subside, and eventually those in recovery are actually more capable of handling the struggles in life because of their individual programs. In this post, we will be going over some of the common struggles in early recovery as well as some ways that people in recovery overcome them.

Early Recovery Struggles Sober Living

What Is Early Recovery?


Early Recovery refers to the time from the first day abstinent from drugs or alcohol up to anywhere from 6 months to a year. Relapse in early recovery can be a common occurrence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has identified four stages of recovery, with Early Abstinence being the second stage. The first is Treatment Initiation, which is when there might be some denial and ambivalence around committing to recovery and other struggles that are typically addressed while in a drug and alcohol treatment program. The second stage is where many will be upon arrival to a sober living home. This is when one will begin going out on their own again, to 12 step meetings, work, the gym, and social activities.

Why is it So Difficult?

This is a hard time for many, with a significant amount of people in recovery having a relapse during this time. The high risk of relapse is one of the several reasons that a sober living in Los Angeles can be the best option for someone coming out of treatment or otherwise in their first six months of recovery. There are a plethora of emotions, fears, and external issues that come down during this time, some of which are a result of damage caused while actively drinking or using and others the usual life difficulties that all of us face.

What Can Be Expected?

1. Boredom and Loneliness

Boredom and loneliness are listed first because they can sometimes be the most difficult part! Boredom has two main ways of impacting people in early recovery. The first is rooted in how drugs, alcohol, and other addictions rewire the brain’s pleasure circuits. When the brain is so used to getting rewarded with dopamine only from using one’s substance of choice, it takes a long time for it to begin to feel rewarded from healthy activities. Further, a vast amount of a substance user’s time is spent obtaining and using their substances of choice. For some, this may have los angeles sober living experiencebeen all they did. When suddenly that entire activity is gone, the feeling of boredom can be very heavy.

Along with the boredom, loneliness also comes into play because many people get sober without a network of others in recovery. It can be very risky for someone in early recovery to spend time around others who are still drinking or using drugs. It can also be very hard to make friends when the drugs and/or alcohol were very likely the social lubricant that made finding friends easy. When suddenly sober and not being able to fall back on the substance use as a common interest, the recovering individual must now really find themself and forge true connections with others. This can be a very scary thing when already dealing with so many emotions!

2. Relationships

Relationships tend to get very strained or ruined completely during active drug or alcohol use. These relationships don’t necessarily get worse when one begins their recovery although they may feel like it because priorities will have shifted without the substance use. The biggest pain felt in regards to relationships is the lack of trust. After years of lying and manipulative behavior the trust given to someone in early recovery tends to be slim to none. This can be painful to experience but can, in many cases, be improved with the more time spent being sober and honest. Other relationships, such as with old friends or partners, can be strained or end completely because they aren’t happy with one’s newfound sobriety and way of life.  There are many reasons for this and is usually for the best although that can be hard to deal with until new and true friends and relationships are forged.

3. Finances

Financial difficulties may seem obvious due to the fact that drugs and alcohol can get very expensive. In some cases, every dollar a substance user brings in goes directly to their drug of choice. Unfortunately, even though one in early recovery isn’t spending their money on drugs and alcohol anymore, all the other expenses that have been ignored will feel like they are appearing suddenly. While the truth is many have been building up for a while, they don’t start to really feel like a concern until getting sober. It can be a crushing feeling to get out of a treatment program feeling great about the work completed only to realize you have maxed out credit cards and collections agencies calling for payment with a plummeting credit score. There may also be legal costs and money owed to family or friends as well. Money is a stressful topic for very many people, in recovery or not.

4. Cravings

Cravings are something that most people in recovery have experienced during active use and they become even more challenging when you don’t want to follow through on them. Cravings may come and go fairly quickly, though they certainly can feel absolutely crippling at times. That being said, they are able to be worked through and they absolutely do subside over time.


Overcoming the Struggles of Early Recovery

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The struggles mentioned above may sound like just too much to handle. Thankfully, all of them and then some can be resolved through time and work in recovery. It may not be easy, but it can absolutely happen with the right amount of honesty, hard work, and support. Below are just some of the things that can make all the difference in early recovery.

Having a Routine

It can be difficult to navigate through an entire day for someone who has recently stopped drinking or using drugs. As mentioned earlier in this post, it is a struggle to fill all the time that was not so long ago dedicated to using. This is why a routine can be so important. As the new way of living in recovery is being learned, a set path of getting through every day helps the brain develop these new habits. While it may feel forced at first, the consistent practice of a daily routine can help stop the feelings of boredom and loneliness, help keep stress and anxiety levels under control, increase physical fitness levels, and increasing the level of productivity. This isn’t to say that the daily routines need to be incredibly stringent. An example of a daily routine might be something similar to the example below.sober living routine

  1. Wake up by 8:30 and set intentions for the day before leaving the bedroom.
  2. Prepare breakfast and shower before heading out for the day.
  3. Attend IOP or go to work.
  4. Go to the gym for 1 hour after IOP or work.
  5. Attend a twelve step meeting.
  6. Pray and meditate before getting to bed by 11:00PM.

While everyone’s daily routine/schedule will likely be a bit different, having something as simple as this example can make all the difference in success and sanity while going through the early stages of recovery.

Practice Healthy Living

Having just any routine will not be enough unless this routine involves healthy living. As part of active alcoholism or drug addiction, we tend to not take care of our minds or bodies. This prolonged lack of self care can wreak havoc on our personal well-being. There are many healthy activities that can be worked into a daily routine. Just a few of which are listed below.

  • Exercise: A simple 15 minute workout routine or a full hour and a half at the gym. Any amount of exercise has been definitively linked to improvements in mental health, physical health, and overall well-being. In fact, it’s been found in one study that found “moderate-intensity exercise appeared to facilitate alcohol recovery regardless of intervention”
  • Eating Healthy: Consistent and balanced meals will provide your brain and body with the fuel it needs to begin recovering.
  • Sleep: This is when the body does the most healing. Finding a regular sleep schedule that ensures a solid 8+ hours of sleep will allow the best healing.

Getting and Staying Connected

Developing a new network of friends in recovery is a crucial step in creating the support network that is needed for when things get harder. This also might be the number one reason that sober living is so important. While some past friendships are probably still be viable, as part of the recovery process it is very likely that many past friends are harmful to recovery. This gap must be filled by new, sober friends. When someone is in a sober living home they have a built in group of people that are experiencing the same struggles that they are. Long-term friendships are typically formed as it is the same group of people that one might be going to meetings, working out, and sharing meals with. Some other methods of meeting new friends and connecting with others are through twelve-step meetings, community events and programs, and through various classes and clubs. Connection with others is what will make or break someone’s recovery.

Achieving and Maintaining Balance

During active addiction and alcoholism there is typically no balance in life. Finding balance can be hard, especially when in the first year of recovery. It’s not uncommon for people to fall into other addictive behaviors such as gambling, eating, spending, and others. Some things that may seem productive can also work in the opposite way. While exercise is crucial, it can also become a problem if one is working out for 4 hours a day everyday. While a balanced life will look different depending upon the person, what’s important is that there is consistent work towards keeping all aspects of life in balance.

Staying in a Sober Living

With everything discussed above, sober living can be one of the best ways to get the support one in early recovery needs to get their lives on track. A sober living home provides a built-in network of peers going through similar experiences. Open Sky Recovery is a West Los Angeles sober living that is here to support anyone in early recovery. Please contact us to learn more about what we do or if you simply need some guidance to help yourself or a loved one. Call us at (310) 560-3794 or send us an email through our contact form.


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