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Coping Methods for Anxiety During Recovery

Victory Bay

When recovering from a substance use disorder, our brains are learning to rewire themselves to new pleasure centers, reactions, and experiences. This means anxiety and recovery – especially early recovery – go hand and hand. As we learn to strengthen and build our mind-body connection, multiple symptoms will emerge as we unconsciously seek out the same pleasure centers that our addiction fulfilled.

Racing thoughts, elevated heart rate, crawling out of your skin: all these anxiety symptoms are perfectly normal in the recovery process. However, learning to cope and move through your anxiety is a different story. You don’t need just to lay back and let anxiety wash over you! Part of recovery is developing coping mechanisms to apply to these symptoms when they start to disrupt our life.

Step one to coping will be pinpointing your anxiety if you have the ability. Is there a particular situation, conflict, or feeling that is provoking anxiety symptoms? Understanding the root will allow you to apply the most appropriate coping skill. Remember – coping skills need to be rotated and practiced based on the situation in front of us. Take a look at these skills below and see what fits nicely for the anxiety symptoms you’re facing. 


Release that energy from your body! One of the most common anxiety symptoms those in recovery from addiction (especially early recovery) experience is the feeling of bursting out of their skin. This comes with uncomfortability and the desire to act impulsively to achieve relief. Moving your body, regardless of how small or big the movement is, will allow you to release pent-up energy pushing you towards impulsive action. Develop an exercise or walking routine, take a kickboxing class, or dance! This will enable a boost in endorphins, a welcome distraction, and help increase your confidence to deal with anxiety-provoking situations.  

Avoidance & Exit Planning:

In recovery circles, there’s a lot of talk about “people, places, and things.” This means mindful of present-day triggers around old friends, hangouts, and objects. Avoidance is the ideal strategy for this in recovery; if you experience anxiety or triggers to use in these situations, ask yourself the absolute necessity of entering into certain positions. There are times, however, when showing up feels like an action towards your recovery, for example, attending a wedding for a family member. In these moments, mitigate your anxiety by having a drawn-out exit strategy if things start to feel too overwhelming. Drive yourself, inform your loved ones you may have to leave early and release the guilt around making the best decision for your recovery.  


This is as simple as it sounds. Distraction is a vital tool used to help us cope with anxiety symptoms. Rather than settling into anxiety, allow yourself the freedom to identify activities that will pull you out of anxiety and compartmentalize your symptoms. Watching TV, eating a good meal, or reading a book are great ways to temporarily put your anxiety in a box to be dealt with when it doesn’t feel as overwhelming.

Opposite Action:

This skill is perfect for those in recovery and can be used for anxiety, depression, and other mood symptoms. Specifically, when we are trying to rewire our brains to reach healthy coping strategies, the opposite action actively pushes us to do the opposite of what our anxiety is telling us to do. Want to send ten follow-up texts? Put the phone down. Have cravings for your substance of choice? Call a friend. Opposite action provides us with a simple, straightforward solution to shutting down anxiety in its tracks.  

Mindfulness: Try breathing techniques, meditation, and oriented toward the present moment. The action of mindfulness allows us to reconnect to our body sensations and what’s happening around us. Anxiety pushes us to live in either the future or the past, while mindfulness encourages us to release the expectations around these situations and feel our feet on the ground. Developing a daily mindfulness practice can tamp down anxiety symptoms and help us regulate additional emotions. 

Support System:

Especially for those in recovery, developing a network of people who can identify with your experience is critical for laying the foundation on which sobriety can grow. What a support system provides a sense of universality – the feeling that you are not terminally unique in your addiction and have a group around you who can help quell your anxiety by normalizing it. This can also include family, trusted friends, and co-workers. We don’t heal alone; we heal in a community. 

Self-Care Routines:

Those in recovery are particularly stunted in the realm of self-care after years of putting their primary needs to the side. Self-care isn’t all bubble baths and massages; it’s also taking your medication on time, making sure you are showering, and developing sleep hygiene. A solid self-care practice is guaranteed to keep anxiety symptoms at bay. Ask yourself, “What do I need to practice to feel secure in my day-to-day?”. This will look different for each person but is a vital part of managing your emotions, anxiety and triggers.

How can you integrate the above coping strategies to help reduce and regulate your anxiety symptoms? As stated before, coping with emotional responses in early recovery requires a certain sense of self-awareness around why the anxiety is occurring and which skill will provide the most relief.

Best practice would recommend you develop a relationship with each one of these coping categories so you can begin to feel what works best for you. Remember, anxiety in recovery is normal – your brain is learning to handle information and urges in new ways! Be gentle with your anxiety symptoms, and trust they will fade over time.   

Published on 8/11/2022 | Written by Victory Bay[

Recovery with Victory Bay Recovery Center

At Victory Bay Recovery Center, our passion and mission are recovery with love and respect. We offer comprehensive Intensive Outpatient (IOP) and Outpatient (OP) addiction treatment programs. With our modern facility in Southern New Jersey and our experienced staff of healthcare professionals, we’re here to help you achieve a new life with a new start in recovery. To learn more about the variety of treatment programs we offer, contact us today by calling 855.239.5099.  

Are you ready to move forward and start treatment? Then contact Victory Bay Recovery of New Jersey.

As shown above, we offer complete recovery through our outpatient programs at our Addiction center.

To schedule a consultation today, call us at 855.239.5099.

Recovery with Victory Bay

At Victory Bay we’re here to help you achieve a new life with a new start in recovery. To learn more about the variety of treatment programs we offer, including mental health, eating disorders, and substance use, contact us today by calling 855.239.5099.