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There are a large number of anxiety-inducing moments in recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol. Each step of one’s recovery journey has its own difficulties and personal struggles as someone begins to recontextualize their world and their relationships. The constant change that most experience, coupled with the inherent emotional stress that someone experiences during addiction recovery, can feel overwhelming. Feelings of anxiety can be both constant and debilitating. However, there are ways that someone can begin to control their environment and situations in order to handle their emotions better. Finding control when one is stressed doesn’t mean that they have to be in charge of every element. Instead, it can be a matter of identifying and reaffirming support options ahead of time and breaking down the elements where someone does have agency in the moments that anxieties are high. 

Recognizing Stress

No trick will ensure that someone never experiences stress again. Stress will be a constant through recovery and beyond, and is one of the main driving forces of what makes up the “real world.” Eliminating stress isn’t an option, but failing to admit that one is feeling stressed can accentuate the emotional instability. Before someone can begin to formulate a plan based on addressing their stressors, they first have to admit that these stressors are present and difficult to cope with. Realizing this draws on someone’s willingness to accept their vulnerabilities to regain strength. When it comes to aspects of control in one’s life, admitting vulnerability is the first step to regaining agency not just over a situation, but over their own recovery timeline. 

Dealing with Stress in the Heat of the Moment

When stressors and anxiety hit, they can feel like an overwhelming wave of emotion, and as if the whole world suddenly seems antagonistic in some way or another. Dealing with stress, however, means being able to breathe and take stock of one’s environment. By breathing, and centering oneself before taking any actions, one can gain a slightly more exact image of the stresses they are facing. 

When dealing with stressful situations, just because the whole world feels against someone doesn’t mean that it truly is. After breathing, it is essential to try to break down one’s environment and situation into more manageable pieces to ground oneself and help identify sources of stress or otherwise safe things. This can be simply naming the aspects of one’s environment, such as tables, chairs, or people, in order to get a shared sense of reality amongst the anxiety. It can also help someone name a particular part of their situation that’s causing stress. This process can then help direct their energies in a focused way rather than feeling overwhelmed when they have to confront the whole world. However, small anxieties seem to expand when someone begins to notice and admit their presence. By breathing, grounding, and focusing one’s energies, they can address stressors in a healthy, manageable way. 

Preparing for Difficult Scenarios

Knowing and admitting that anxieties are a part of someone’s recovery path is essential, as it allows each person to be proactive about their mental health. While knowing someone’s stressors can help them avoid difficult situations, that doesn’t mean that someone won’t still come across stressful events and anxiety-inducing circumstances. Therefore, it is important to also prepare for utilizing supports regardless of the situation or where someone is. This can take the form of reaffirming relationships with other people, whether they be physically present or just a phone call away. Recovering addicts may also consider rehearsing escape plans with oneself or their support systems. Others may bring therapeutic objects or tools for coping when experiencing new environments. This can take many forms, such as letting support systems know that you will be going to a new environment and may need to call. You may also consider bringing things such as key chains that may remind you of your support systems. 

Addressing one stressor is much more manageable than trying to take on the whole world when anxieties surface. Being prepared doesn’t mean denying someone the ability to experience new things. Still, it does involve addressing the potential dangers and benefits involved and making educated decisions about the situation and what to do if anxieties or stressors appear. Practicing techniques as simple as breathing, ahead of time can help them be employed as second-nature when the heat of the moment comes. Additionally, having support available in person or over the phone whenever someone is out can give someone the needed safety net they may need not just to address their stressors and anxiety, but overcome them as well. 


Addressing the trials and anxieties of the recovery process from drugs or alcohol is incredibly taxing. It can be challenging to know how to deal with stressors, or even how to identify them. However, if you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or the anxieties of the recovery process, Lighthouse Recovery can help instill the skills that may help you cope with the most difficult times of recovery. By creating an array of different programs, each able to be adjusted and specialized to fit you and your specific needs. Taking control of your own healing is empowering. The professionals at Lighthouse Recovery can help you find your own power amidst even the most stressful circumstances.