Recognizing The Challenges Of Early Recovery

Recognizing the Challenges of Early Recovery

Being vulnerable to relapse is a very real possibility in the midst of making tough and enduring changes.

Whoever coined the phrase, “knowledge is power,” had their finger on the pulse of change. Scholars attribute these words to the preeminent writer Sir Francis Bacon, although their true origin is obscured by the mists of time. What is certain however is that the tides of change are best navigated with plenty of planning and that necessitates knowledge.

Early recovery is an exciting time in life, one that brings new feelings and hope as well as challenges. Maintaining sobriety requires a major life recalibration, a readjustment to life without alcohol or drugs. Making the changes necessary to alter coping skills, relationships and one’s lifestyle involves a fair amount of work, change and planning.

With that in mind, here are some of the most common challenges that rear themselves during early recovery.


Back in the 12th century Chaucer called idle hands the devil’s tools. In other words, nothing much good comes from boredom! And yet boredom is a hard emotion to escape, especially when you’ve traded in one set of lifestyle habits and are still learning to master a new set.

Filling in the spaces of your new life doesn’t mean entirely throwing out all aspects of your old one.

Is there a hobby you haven’t thought about in forever? Maybe a passion or talent that got thrown out of the window because of your addiction?

Or maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to try if only you had more time? Guess what? Now’s the time!

Recovery is an opportunity for rebuilding your life, for starting, not simply stopping. You get to choose now what you do for fun which means there’s never been a better time for indulging a long held wish or pursuing a forgotten dream.


Anger is one of those emotions most of us wish we could better control, but when that thought comes it’s usually because it’s too late!

In early recovery, it’s very easy for the small things to blow up into much bigger things. The smallest irritation can seem like a rock instead of a pebble in your shoe. Pre-recovery you may not have had much practice dealing with emotions, instead medicating them away. In fact, there’s a very good chance that substance abuse has damaged or interfered with the part of your brain responsible for managing emotions.

So, what do you do now when anger rears it’s hot head? 

Instead of seeking out unhealthy ways of dealing with anger it’s time to trade-up to more productive, healthy ways of dispatching irritation, etc.

Instead of running away, keep the running part, but literally! Running, jogging, even walking is a great way to release simmering tension building up inside your body. Not into working up a sweat? How about releasing the pressure through writing?

Journaling away your thoughts is cathartic as well as a safe way to channel your emotions. No one has to see your words except for you. And those words may turn out to be an inspiration to you later on the road to recovery. It’s easy to forget the day to day feelings, frustrations and triumphs that pass our way, but reading about these experiences lets us relieve the good times and reminds us to remember the lessons from the bad times.

Being with others who use

No doubt you’ve thought about the reality of being around others who still use. Maybe you’ve even run through such scenarios in your mind. Yet nothing compares to being in the actual moment, faced with family, friends, or colleagues who are using.

Being in such company can be very difficult while in an early phase of recovery, when smells, sights and sounds can all act as triggers. If you don’t feel you’re ready to be in such a situation, don’t rush yourself, you’ll know when the time is right.


Has anyone ever slept like a baby except for a baby? When you stop using it’s common during early recovery to be confronted with insomnia. After enough sleepless nights the temptation to take something to get to sleep is natural, but non-medication solutions are a wise idea.

Most of us know of something that makes us tired. I have a friend who turns a fan on before retiring because the soft whir and gentle draft makes her drowsy. Another friend finds warm tea induces a sense of calm which helps her relax, and another takes a hot shower before hitting the sheets.

Job Stress

Is there such a thing as a non-stressful job? Even people who love what they do for a living have the inevitable stressors of dealing with deadlines, pleasing customers, meeting expectations, so on and so forth. If you know of the perfect, stress-free job, let me know!

If you return to the job you held prior to treatment or recovery, there may be added stress interacting with the individuals who were there before.

Frustration and setbacks are a natural part of early recovery, and most individuals encounter one or more of the above obstacles as they navigate a new normal. Just remember, ongoing support in the form of loved ones, support groups, and professionals can help you to stay on the path you’ve chosen and worked so hard for. Never hesitate to ask for help if you need it, it could mean the difference between recovery and relapse.

Lifelong recovery is possible: all you need to do is reach out. Starbent Recovery was founded on the belief that people suffering from addictive disorders, trauma, and other co-occurring issues can thrive in the right environment. 

Our professional, dedicated staff have the understanding, experience, and compassion necessary to support each resident’s clinical treatment team goals. We offer individualized tier level programs, and guidance with residents’ personal recovery and independent living goals.

Our safe, peer residence offers luxury amenities and is located in the heart of upscale Tribeca close to multiple subway lines and surrounded by trendy dining and shopping.

To learn more about our premier women’s recovery residence, call us at (800) 673-0176.

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