Dr. Peter Coleman, M.D.
After I had been clean and sober for about 6 months, I started to notice quite a few people had already relapsed and were back on drugs and alcohol. This bothered me and made me fear for my own sobriety. I asked my therapist if he thought I was going to make it or not. He told me that there are many factors that determine people’s success, but one of them is the ability to sit through pain. He told me that I was already doing all of the right things – going to meetings, working with a sponsor, reading healthy literature, etc. I had already changed my friends and the things I was doing. He also thought I was very good at sitting through pain, so he said that he thought I would make it. I liked his answer.
The truth is my therapist may have sensed that I am pretty good at sitting through discomfort, but I certainly am not perfect at it. In my time, I have certainly overreacted to pain and discomfort. At times, I have felt so afraid that I’ve made bad decisions and judgments. Then I’ve done things that are not helpful. I may have said something that hurt someone else or made a situation worse. I have done things that hurt someone or made the situation worse.
There is a philosophy in recovery circles that everything changes – some people say this about the weather –“if you don’t like the weather, just stick around, because it will change”. The concept with feelings is the same-“if you are feeling really happy and everything is going great - get over it because it won’t last!” The opposite is also very true. If you are feeling anxious, get over it because it won’t last. Fortunately I have now been clean and sober long enough that I know that this is true. I have experienced enough periods of anxiety that I am absolutely certain that I will come out of it and feel better – and usually I feel better much more quickly than I thought I would. In my experience, feelings or anxiety usually don’t last more than a few hours. And of course, like anything that we practice, we get better at it. The more often we practice sitting through anxiety, the quicker it goes away. So, next time you feel all anxious and worried that things aren’t just the way you think they should be – be happy because you have just been given a great learning opportunity!
At The Coleman Institute, we specialize in helping people get clean clean and stay clean from alcohol and drugs. If you or someone you love has an addiction, we would love to help you heal. If you are in need of detox from opiates, alcohol, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-77-DETOX (33869).