Managing Mood Swings in Early Recovery

Managing Mood Swings in Early Recovery

sad girl in chair

Addiction and alcoholism rewire many behavioral and brain systems, making things especially tough for people in early recovery.

After getting sober, many people experience mood swings in sobriety. There is a strong connection between drug and alcoholism relapse and mood swings, but treating these mood swings can help with relapse prevention and long-term recovery.

Understanding the Science Behind Extreme Mood Swings

  While scientists are still studying the brain mechanisms behind emotions and moods, there is a working definition for our moods and emotions. Essentially, moods and emotions are cognitive states that are psychological responses stemming from certain brain regions activated by specific situations.1 Our moods and emotions are heavily influenced by our past experiences, which makes things especially difficult for recovering addicts and alcoholics as they combat the emotional effects of drug addiction.

What Causes Mood Swings in Early Recovery?

  In early recovery, there is a disconnect between a person’s previous experiences and their present state. This can cause a dissonance that results in confusion, stress, and other mood swings in sobriety. As the brain and body attempt to readjust to life without drugs or alcohol, mood changes can occur as the chemicals within a person’s mind and body work back to a sober state. If you were self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, or if you were addicted to mood-altering drugs like Xanax, you may experience a resurgence of the original mental health or mood disorder symptoms you were attempting to self-medicate.

Treating the Emotions of Early Sobriety

  There are many mood swings and emotional stages of sobriety. As you work through recovery, you’ll likely face your own set of emotional challenges and growth opportunities. The key to managing the wild emotions of early sobriety is to get support and build your own emotional wellbeing. Many intrusive thoughts and mood swings in early recovery pass on their own, but others may seem more permanent.

How to handle mood swings in early recovery:

  • Practice meditation to gain better control over physical responses to emotions
  • Engage in exercise or other activities to release excess energy or stress
  • Work with a therapist or mental health counselor to address any negative emotions
  • Be gentle with yourself and understand that this will pass

Working with a professional rehab program can help connect you with support systems that will guide you through your recovery. Mood swings are a part of early recovery for many individuals, but you don’t have to struggle with extreme mood swings alone.

We’re here to help you with your recovery, call 888-280-4763 today.


  1. NCBI - The dark side of emotion: the addiction perspective

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Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.