The impact emotions have on our actions and our overall health cannot be overstated and are frequently misunderstood. Many people mistakenly equate the word “emotion” with “feelings.” The belief, then, tends to be that emotions can be easily over-ridden by the rational brain. “Get over it,” this thinking tells us.
The truth, however, is that emotions are much more powerful than most people realize. Certainly, emotions are involved in the processing of feelings and moods, but there is much more to it than that. In fact, the brain uses a person’s emotional system, which is essentially an intricate network of biochemical neurological signals and responses sparked by various congenital and external triggers, to manage the following critical functions:
- Forming new habits (learning)
- Feeling tired, falling asleep and waking up
- Exercising self-control despite powerful cravings
- Forming and recalling memories selectively
- Feelings of self-worth and optimism for the future
- Motivation to exercise or work hard
- Relational bonding
- Sexual attraction and function
The mind constantly works to move repeated behaviors from the conscious area of the brain into the subconscious. This allows people to focus their conscious attention on critical decision-making exercises instead of routines, but often results in detrimental behaviors becoming hard-wired into a person’s psychology. Whether it is an addiction issue or another mental health problem such as depression or anxiety, any behaviors that have moved into to the emotional part of the brain are extremely difficult, or even impossible, to reprogram without professional help. Regardless of how intensely an alcoholic wants to stop drinking, for instance, the emotional or psychological compulsion to drink will be stronger than the rational desire to quit. Thus the key to recovery is to cause non-addictive, healthier methods of relief to be established in the emotional center of the brain. This takes significant time and effort but it is possible with the proper help.
The Emotions of Rehab
Rehab is definitely an emotional journey. Individuals in the process of overcoming psychological disorders will experience a wide range of emotions, including the following:
One of the primary functions of drugs and alcohol is the numbing of emotional or physical pain. Addicts medicate their emotions by getting drunk or high. Thus when an addict stops using substances he or she will experience a rush of emotions that feel intense and even overwhelming. Everything feels more extreme for the recovering addict. The lows are extremely low and the highs are dizzyingly high. One of the most important jobs of recovery support staff members is to help the addict to navigate these extreme emotions without self-medicating. This requires the cultivation of improved mindfulness skills and healthier coping techniques. The following techniques are often included in the most effective recovery programs:
- Individual counseling and life coaching
- Support group meetings
- Coping skill instruction and emotion management exercises
- 24-Hour accountability
- Empowering educational experiences that increase mindfulness and understanding
- Medically supervised detox
- Family counseling and support
One of the greatest benefits of inpatient rehab programs is that counselors and support staff are available 24 hours a day and are ready to help you navigate every emotional extreme. The process of recovery continues long after the residential phase, though. Learning to be mindful of your emotions and to lean on friends and supporters when temptations arise will be the difference between continuing healing and relapse.
The Importance of Aftercare
It is common for amphetamine addicts to feel extremely confident in themselves as they complete their stint in rehab. This often leads to unwise, reckless choices. Recovering addicts frequently overestimate their ability to resist temptation and underestimate the emotional power of various experiences and circumstances. Long-term aftercare programs help maintain sobriety for months or even years by re-connecting the addict to the people, ideas and disciplines that he or she experienced during rehab. Maintaining these connections is especially helpful when the addict’s emotions are triggered by the following experiences:
- Relationship problems
Successful recovery requires that the individual learn to recognize the early signals of the kind of emotion shift that can place his sobriety in jeopardy. The longer a person waits to reach out for help, the less likely it is that he will. As emotions become heightened, either positively or negatively, the psychological process that takes place in the brain makes it more difficult for the individual to think rationally. The result is often an emotional outburst in which the addict reverts to habitual methods of coping, like amphetamine use. Learning to control your emotions – instead of being controlled by them – is absolutely essential for your successful recovery.
24-Hour Recovery Helpline
If you would like more information about the role of psychological health in the process of addiction, or would like to be referred to a recovery program that can help you learn more effective ways of controlling your emotions, please call our toll-free helpline today. We are available any time of day or night with free, no-strings-attached, advice and answers. It may seem that you are helpless to control your emotions, but you are not. There are ways to learn how to regain control of this powerful psychological process. We can help. Call now.