Photo of Joe, peer coach in Sioux Falls, SD

Ask a coach

Joe has extensive personal and coaching experience with addiction and mental health conditions, including bipolar, depression and anxiety.

Q: I’ve stopped drinking – why don’t I feel better?

A: In my five years of coaching and more than 13 years of wellness, I’ve noticed common traits and challenges among those in early addiction recovery.

Most people come to Face It TOGETHER because they have a problem with alcohol and/or other drugs. However, they’re often using those substances as a kind of “treatment” for something else in their lives that’s creating stress, anxiety or depression. But it turns out that tactic doesn’t work very well and usually makes a bad situation even worse.

Once someone identifies and addresses the other issues alcohol may have been masking, they’re in a much better place to move forward and find joy in recovery. That’s why finding a holistic form of support, or several, is so important. Round out your wellness team so you have as much help as possible.

Of course, no two situations are the same, and serious issues like trauma and severe mental illness may require clinical support or inpatient treatment. If that’s the case, our team can help provide a referral. We have physical locations in Sioux Falls, SD and Colorado Springs, CO but we regularly provide referrals across the country.

Another thing I’ve noticed about new members is they usually like to fast. Sometimes we like to go fast physically – for the thrill or adrenaline. Sometimes we like to go fast mentally. And most often, we want to move through recovery as quickly as possible. We want to leave the shame and consequences that addiction caused in our lives behind.

While I understand the desire to move on, I also know that moving too fast can lead to mistakes, bad decisions and physical or mental “crashes.” Speed shortens our reaction time and can magnify a bad choice. We have to learn to slow down. It may sound far too simple to make a difference, but often it’s the most important change in thinking you can make. Learning to fight the instinct to go fast and instead slow down is difficult, but worthwhile.

If you’ve stopped drinking but don’t feel like yourself, you may be grappling with feelings of grief or fear. So many people put off getting help for their problematic drinking or addiction because they’re genuinely afraid of never having fun again. For years, their hobbies and friends may have revolved around drinking. The fear is if alcohol goes away, having fun does also – they can’t imagine one without the other.

The truth is, they’re not mutually exclusive. Sobriety can feel like a long, even impossible road. I can say from experience that while it’s challenging, it’s also incredibly rewarding. I’ve seen members flourish in front of me and go on to thrive professionally, rebuild meaningful relationships with their families and meet a long list of goals.

Lastly, far too many of us spend too much time alone. Spending quality time with others is always valuable, but especially when you’re in the early stages of addiction wellness. Chances are, we isolated plenty while active in our addiction. Now is a great time to expand your network and find people to spend meaningful time with.

Making friends can be hard, especially if you’re fighting anxiety, depression or other common mental health challenges. But the more we’re alone, the worse we usually feel. If a member is struggling with meeting new people or developing new hobbies, I always tell them to start by identifying things they like to do. Then, find places where those things happen. If you have a dog, visit a dog park. If you like to cook, take a cooking class. Dancing, basketball, poetry – any number of interests provide opportunities to meet people you already have something in common with. When you isolate, the scenery doesn’t change. Getting out of your routine and trying something new can help you feel connected and healthy.

If you’re struggling with one or multiple of the feelings above – or none of them – a peer coach can be a great sounding board. They can help you identify what may be out of synch or missing in your recovery, troubleshoot issues and provide suggestions for longterm wellness.

Let’s face it better, together.


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