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Anxiety and addiction go hand and hand. It is very common to feel especially anxious in sobriety because alcohol and drugs were used to cope with daily anxiety for many people. Adjusting to the loss of substance use as a coping mechanism makes bouts of anxiety in early recovery very common. Although it may seem difficult, coping with anxiety and making it more manageable is possible in recovery. Here are 5 tips to start dealing with your anxiety in sobriety.

How to cope with Anxiety and Sobriety

  1. Grounding exercises

Grounding exercises can help you re-connect with your body and become less overwhelmed. A grounding technique called “5-4-3-2-1” can help soothe your anxiety. The steps are:

5. Acknowledge your physical surroundings

4. Acknowledge 4 things you can touch around you and list them

3. Acknowledge 3 things you can hear (these things should be external)

2. Acknowledge two things you can smell

1. Acknowledge one thing you can taste

Acknowledging these 5 things should help ground you and take you out of your anxious mindset.

  1. Meditating

Meditation is a great way to relieve your anxiety. Some people struggle to get into meditation, however, it can become very effective with practice. You can meditate anytime, anywhere and there is no right or wrong way to do it. If you are unable to meditate by yourself, there are apps, like Insight Timer, that offer guided meditations as well as meditation music. Moreover, there are meditations made specifically to help those who are anxious and in recovery. Meditation can offer you a way to reflect, relax, and reduce anxiety.

  1. Talking to someone

Dealing with anxiety can be isolating. Anxiety thrives in lonely environments where it cannot be ignored. To avoid your anxiety becoming too overwhelming, reaching out and talking to others can help you find a healthy outlet to relieve some of your anxiety.  Even if you think the reason you are anxious is dumb, it can be helpful to talk out why you are feeling the way you are. Talking out your anxiety may even help you realize what is causing your anxiety so you know what you have to address.

  1. Yoga

Practicing yoga can help soothe your anxiety in many ways. Through chants, stretching, and other techniques, yoga can begin to calm your anxiety. There is even a yoga made specifically for 12-Step Recovery, which combines regular yoga with 12 step themes. Yoga offers you a healthy, active way to relieve some of your anxiety while remaining sober.

  1. Distractions

Sometimes the only way to get out of your head is to distract yourself. Using healthy distractions to get your mind off your anxieties can be a good way to cope. Some healthy distractions are exercising, writing, reading, creating art, cooking, and more. It is important to remember that, although engaging in healthy distractions can be a good coping mechanism at times, it is not always good to avoid what is causing your anxiety. Try to only distract yourself from your anxiety when it becomes too overwhelming to address it in other, more productive ways.

Being anxious in recovery is common, however, there are ways to deal with it. Spending time to discover what helps you cope and being to implement these coping mechanisms into your life can make your anxiety more manageable. 

Managing Anxiety in Sobriety with NuView Treatment Center

If you are struggling to cope with your anxiety in recovery, NuView Treatment Center can help you develop the skills you need to relieve some of these anxieties. NuView Treatment Center in Los Angeles offers outpatient addiction treatment that is made to give clients the tools they need to recover. The evidence-based treatment programs available at NuView can help clients address the underlying issues, such as mental health disorders and interpersonal problems, that are motivating their addiction. By doing this, you can begin to develop the necessary tools and coping mechanisms to deal with your anxiety in recovery. NuView’s Los Angeles drug outpatient treatment can help equip you to deal with daily anxieties while also maintaining your long-term sobriety.

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Written By: Linda Whiteside


Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson


Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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