Quitting alcohol or drugs is a huge achievement, but the work doesn't stop the minute you're sober. Quitting without a strong support plan in place can lead to what's known as 'dry drunk syndrome'. You might still be engaging in unhealthy behaviors, even though you're not drinking or taking drugs. Seeking counselling can help you to find new strategies for leading a healthy and fulfilling sober life.
Dealing with the reasons that you were driven to addiction to begin with is essential if you want to stop history repeating itself. Here are some key reasons to seek counselling while you're in recovery.
Learn healthy coping mechanisms
Just because you stop drinking or taking drugs, it doesn't mean that all of life's problems suddenly melt away. You'll inevitably be faced with challenges during your recovery, and seeing a counsellor can help you to put some healthy coping strategies in place before this happens. Being reliant on drugs to feel better can result in a loss of positive habits. Your counsellor will work with you to encourage positive actions like eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, practising mindfulness and being aware of your emotions.
Gain tools for repairing relationships
Chances are that you damaged a few relationships over the course of your addiction. Repairing these relationships is key to a healthy and successful recovery. Many 12-step programs encourage making amends to those who you've wronged in the past, but this can be hard. A counsellor can discuss strategies for effective communication to make the process as painless as possible. You'll feel better about broaching difficult topics of conversation once you know you're armed with the tools to react calmly, whatever happens. And if your addiction seriously harmed your relationship with your spouse, marriage counselling in particular could be beneficial as your spouse will also hopefully receive important help.
Deal with past issues
Many people are driven to unhealthy use of drugs and alcohol as a result of unresolved past trauma. Once you stop using, these issues may suddenly come to the surface again, as you've no way of numbing yourself to them. Dealing with these difficult feelings is absolutely essential for maintaining long term sobriety.
Opening up about past issues with a counsellor can be really hard, so it's a good idea to arrange a number of sessions. The more comfortable you feel with a counsellor, the easier it is to be completely open. While you might find the process difficult and upsetting, it will help you in the long run. For specific issues, like domestic abuse, your counsellor may be able to refer you to a specialist who can give tailored support and advice.