Emotional awareness is a necessary part of the healing process that comes with drug and alcohol treatment and recovery. Without the ability to confront sometimes painful emotions, someone with a substance use disorder may go back to drugs to self-medicate. Emotional consciousness is not easy even in the best of times, but it is useful for those working towards recovery.
Emotional consciousness, or emotional sobriety as it is sometimes called, is the ability to feel your feelings. Often people judge feelings based on whether they are good or bad without really experiencing them. For example, they might think that guilt is bad or that happiness is good.
Emotional consciousness delves a little deeper into emotions. It looks not just at the nature of the feeling but the impact of it. What happens when you feel guilty? What is your physical response, for example? Do you get a stomach ache or a headache? What thoughts go through your mind?
Being emotionally conscious is dissecting the feelings, so you experience them instead of just pushing them aside with a label. Emotional sobriety is a concept that started with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It allows you to address negative emotions instead of allowing them to trigger harmful behaviors like drug abuse.
Emotions, especially negative ones, are often at the heart of drug or alcohol abuse. There is a direct connection between substance use disorders and mental illness. It is estimated that half of the people that enter into treatment have a mental health condition like depression.
Using drugs or drinking alcohol is a way of self-medicating, so you don’t have to feel the bad stuff. You can just focus on the good feeling that comes from drugs like heroin. When you enter into a treatment program sober, those feelings come to the surface. It’s important to address them when they do or risk just burying them in substance abuse again.
Feelings that sometimes interfere with recovery include:
Failing to deal with these feelings may put you at risk for relapse.
Effective drug and alcohol treatment programs utilize therapeutic modalities that help deal with overwhelming emotions. Your job is to go into these sessions being willing to accept these emotions and talk about them. Emotional control takes work, but you might find it’s not any harder than burying how you feel. That takes a lot of energy. Emotional sobriety isn’t an overnight process. It takes a long-term effort. Talking about how you feel helps you move past those feelings.
Therapy will also allow you to find better ways to cope with your emotions, which are, after all, a part of life. When looking at your treatment options, look for a treatment center that offers a full continuum of care like San Antonio Recovery Center (SARC).
Services at SARC include:
SARC also provides dual diagnosis treatment, which means they are equipped to handle any underlying mental health problems you might have, such as depression. By treating both the addiction and the mental health condition at the same time, SARC teaches you to stay emotionally conscious during your recovery.
San Antonio Recovery Center is built on the 12-step philosophy, too, so there is a clear understanding of how important emotions are to healing. The clinical staff has the necessary training to keep you in the moment as you look closer at your emotions.
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