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Emotional Maturity: Riding the Recovery Roller Coaster

Who doesn’t love a good roller coaster ride – the thrill you get from the twists and turns or that huge drop to the bottom?! What a great adrenaline boost! And though we line up to experience the ups and downs of colossal theme park rides, there’s another type of “roller coaster” that’s not so exciting: The ever dreadful emotional roller coaster.

Buying a Ticket

Addicts who are going through the recovery process are extremely sensitive to their emotions. Unfortunately, those emotions are all over the place; up and down, twisting and turning – just like a roller coaster. But why does this happen?

For a long time, your world has been focused on obtaining and abusing drugs or alcohol. You were dependent on this substance and “needed” it every single day. Your addiction became your life’s focus. Up to this point, nothing else has really mattered – work, relationships, friends, hobbies, etc.

You Must be this Tall…

There’s no two ways about it; addiction recovery is challenging and requires dedication. Some days are better than others and keeping your emotions in check can be easier said than done. In fact, recovering addicts are oftentimes labeled “emotionally immature” as a result of inadequate coping skills – life skills that were ultimately stifled by drugs or alcohol.

It’s kind of like when you go to an amusement park and have to be tall enough to ride certain roller coasters. If you aren’t tall enough, you’re unable to handle all the twists and turns of the ride.

Life is difficult enough for so-called “mature” adults to handle. Think about it; we’re all faced with a tremendous amount of ups and downs brought on by simple day-to-day living. When you factor in things like births, deaths, jobs, bills, taxes, joys and let downs…well, things can get pretty overwhelming. The way we weather those storms is by using our coping skills.

…recovering addicts are oftentimes labeled “emotionally immature” as a result of inadequate coping skills – life skills that were ultimately stifled by drugs or alcohol.


Choosing a Less-Intense Ride

Now that you’ve sought help, you have to learn how to navigate in recovery.

For many of us, drugs or alcohol seemingly provided an instant escape from the everyday turmoil. Once in recovery, however, we have to learn how to deal with daily stressors all over again. It’s easy to feel like a child who’s learning to walk or talk. If you aren’t prepared, a relapse could very well sneak up on you.

Look, being thrown back into reality without the false sense of security that drugs provided can be extremely jarring. That’s where the tools of recovery come in to play. Simply put; you’re probably not ready to jump on a thrill ride…and that’s okay! Do yourself a favor; strengthen your potential for a successful recovery by starting out on a “kiddie” ride instead.

All you have to do is be willing to seize the opportunity and be fully present for the process. In time, you’ll rebuild the emotional skills necessary to take on just about anything. And when that day comes, buckle in and hold on tight for the biggest and best ride ever – a real mature roller coaster.

Additional Reading: 5 Ways Mindfulness Steers Us on the Road to Recovery
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