Living with an addiction sometimes feels like swinging on a pendulum, as life may sweep from extreme highs to extreme lows. Typically, people who are caught in the downward spiral of opiate abuse ride an emotional rollercoaster all day, possibly due to their worldview. They view circumstances, relationships and even past and future events in black and white terms rather than accepting life as a mixture of both good and bad issues. This binary view sets them up for chaos, since the tendency to idealize or catastrophize situations and people puts their emotional and mental stability on shaky ground. For instance, a new job might be seen like a perfect fit on starting day, but they could come to see it as a dead end by the time the weekend rolls around. Also, a new friend may seem like a soul mate for a short period, only to be cast as an enemy the next. Situations can plummet from perfection to tragedy in the blink of an eye.
However, when people are recovering from addiction, they may be shocked to realize how drug abuse kept them from accepting life in helpful ways. Opiate abuse allows them to change their perception of reality whenever they desire, but problems never disappear—on the contrary, they often worsen when left unaddressed and muted with drug abuse. Like a mole who stays underground to avoid the light, addicts who use drugs to stay high keep from facing the truth about their lives and the world around them, which means life becomes increasingly more difficult. This pattern also keeps them stuck with a simplistic view of life as either all good or all bad. In response, learn to accept both good and bad issues together to stay sober and to walk through life confidently.
Getting Clean: the First Step in Recovery
Sobriety offers a stable alternative to the chaos of addiction, but the ups and downs of life may need time to level out. In fact, circumstances often seem to get worse before they get better, as newly-sober individuals go through detox and then face the wreckage of the past with courage, not denial. The process of rebuilding relationships, careers and spiritual lives is often slow and painstaking, which is why getting professional help is so beneficial for people who wish to break addiction: going it alone is simply impossible for opiate addicts, because they cannot use coping skills they have never learned.
Staying Patient: Riding Out PAWS
During detox and early sobriety, many addicts notice that their emotions seem heightened and excessive. Maintaining perspective on problems—viewing them rightly rather than as insurmountable—may even seem impossible. In response, Huffington Post reporters state this problem has a medical basis according to the health care professionals who say this shaky sense of equilibrium and (its erratic feelings) can be a withdrawal symptom. Termed Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), this emotional issue is part of a common transition phase and a lingering symptom of substance abuse. In fact, the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry says PAWS can occur during recovery from acute dependence on a range of drugs from benzos and barbiturates to antidepressants and opiates. Symptoms include moodiness, an inability to feel pleasure and insomnia, along with extreme cravings and obsessions, anxiety and panic attacks and thoughts of suicide.
Although the brain has tremendous power to rebound and heal, it takes time to rewire itself from addiction. PAWS symptoms generally crest between four to eight weeks after detox begins, which is important to note for two reasons. First, it can help you accept the good with the bad as you recover; understanding how your body and brain are working can help you interpret bouts of the blues or angry as expected parts of the detox process, not signs that you are failing. Furthermore, if you embrace recovery as a slow process, then you may take your time through treatment. According to a 2009 study supported by the National Institutes of Health, the ideal length of stay for inpatient addicts with or without PAWS is 90 days. Data drawn from the study determined length of stay as the easiest way to predict positive treatment outcomes, as more time gives lets body time move away from the deregulation of opiate abuse and toward a new, more balanced “normal.”
Recovery from Opiate Addiction
If you or someone you love struggles with addiction to opiates, then know that you are not alone. All you need to do is step toward health and wholeness by reaching out for help. Our admissions coordinators would love to support your recovery, so call our toll-free, 24 helpline now to learn about treatment and recovery. Calling does not commit you to treatment, but it can break the isolation that keeps you trapped in the destructive cycle of opiate abuse. Do not go it alone when help is so readily available: discover your options for jumpstarting your life by calling right now.
 Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19197595