Often during active addiction, life becomes chaotic. We might have a lot of drama and toxic relationships, or just live generally messy lives. It’s hard not to fall into chaos when you’re chronically using substances.
Early recovery is full of its own ups and downs, which can feel exciting. But when you settle into longer term recovery, you have to get used to a decreased baseline level of chaos. This might sound easy to someone on the outside, but if you’ve grown accustomed to a certain type of messiness, the lack of it can feel boring. It took me time in recovery, and some work, to feel okay with it.
Novelty vs. Chaos
First, I had to learn the difference between stimulation and chaos. As someone with ADHD and addiction, I crave stimulation; people with each condition are more likely to have lower dopamine receptors and may crave things that cause bigger dopamine rushes, which are typically stimulating and novel.
I’ve found that I can make my life incredibly stimulating without inviting chaos in. I engage in hobbies, see my friends regularly, try new things, make sure there’s variation in my life, surround myself with people who are intellectually stimulating to me, and other things that keep me engaged mentally and emotionally.
Meanwhile, I’ve stopped engaging in relationships that are unhealthy for me, go to therapy to recognize toxic thought patterns, and generally steer clear of things that could bring chaos to my life. There was a time earlier in recovery where I might have thought I wanted chaos, but the thought of it is not at all appealing anymore. Feeling engaged with and connected to the world feels much more fulfilling.
Mourning Previous Identity and Coping With Life
If chaos felt like a big part of your life or identity, you might have to mourn it. That’s okay. We can grieve even for things we know aren’t good for us.
All that said, if you want highs and lows, life will ultimately bring them. There is a difference between coping with the inevitable chaos of life and creating chaos—though sobriety can help with both. Life can be random and weird and throw a lot of curveballs; in recovery, we learn healthy ways to cope with the stress of this without picking up a bottle or drugs.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for mental health disorders and addiction in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you find peace in recovery. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.