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Addiction Recovery – Becoming Emotionally Mature

Addiction and emotional immaturity are closely linked, with many addicts turning to using or drinking in order to escape their realities. The lack of emotional maturity is usually explained in terms of an attachment trauma or “relational” stress during childhood.

When there is a lack of appropriate direction and support from parents during childhood, a person cannot internalise suitable emotional controls, meaning they do not learn to control their internal emotional responses.

During addiction recovery, addicts begin to develop emotional skills they never had before.

Addiction recovery

Components of Emotional Immaturity

The ability to control emotional responses


Substance abusers have a tendency to have an all or nothing response to issues that arise. Addicts become overly emotional when confronted with a problem and take a while to calm down again. Their manic emotions often end up interrupting their daily functioning.


Tolerating frustration


As we grow up, we learn to control our emotions and tolerate frustrating situations. Substance abusers on the other hand, tend to react to frustrating situations as if they are disasters rather than implementing self-control and a calm, logical response.


Instant gratification


Substance abusers often have trouble planning and working towards set goals. Their need for instant gratification effects every part of their life, hindering their ability to attain satisfaction from typically rewarding tasks.


Impulse control


An emotionally mature person is able to recognise that feeling the urge to do something is not the same as actually doing it. A recovering addict, who is developing their emotional maturity, is able to develop a level of control over their behaviour and can set boundaries around what is inappropriate to say or do.


Developing these boundaries is the basis for making rational decisions, like whether or not to act on an impulse.

Reliability and accountability


Substance abusers tend to be self-centred and unreliable, often they struggle to fulfill everyday responsibilities, such as being punctual, meeting obligations and being honest.


As addicts begin to develop their emotional maturity, they begin to become less self-involved and more aware of their actions and the consequences of their actions.

Therefore, it’s important that during their addiction recovery, addicts are taught to deal with their emotions without turning to substance abuse.

Addiction recovery skills help develop emotional maturity

Addiction recovery is in many ways a process of completing the process of growing up. Effective addiction recovery treatment involves changes that allow for that process to occur.

Addressing an addict’s view on life


Often, during childhood, substance abusers acquire negative assumptions about themselves. They often view themselves as unlovable or unworthy. They have trust issues and little faith in other peoples want to help them.


Being able to look at these negative beliefs is the first step towards being able to address them. Support groups and individual counselling allows them to be honest about how they are feeling and why they are acting in a particular way.

Support and connection


During recovery, substance abusers are shown that they are not alone and that there are people out there going through the similar situations. Consequently, this allows them to learn emotional skills such as, accountability and honesty. Which in turn, helps them realise that what they do does matter and that their actions have consequences.




During recovery, addicts have the opportunity to reflect on why they are feeling certain emotions and why situations trigger certain emotional responses. Self-reflection is typically absent in most addicts.


Emotional regulation and impulse control are impossible if a person does not have the ability to reflect on their inner emotional state.

It is only when the ability to self-reflect is developed that the recovering addict has the means to look at themselves and their situation more realistically, and self-regulate their emotional responses without resorting to substance abuse.

Embracing emotions, free from escapism


The reality is, when addicts enter a life of sobriety, they begin to feel all of the emotions they were once trying to escape from. Choosing to abstain from their addictive behaviour means they are forced to deal with emotions such as, insecurity; self-hate; and loneliness.


As a result, they begin to label their own emotions and connect them with painful memories that they may have tried to bury by using or drinking. By allowing themselves to feel the pain of their past in a safe and supportive environment, they begin to deal with their issues.

Step Away Rehabilitation Centre South Africa

It’s important to note that when we gain emotional maturity, we not only accept our feelings but we are able to cope and deal with them effectively.

Step Away Rehabilitation Centre offers a supportive environment, one that promotes healing.

Our alcoholism treatment program and drug addiction treatment program includes the services of an experienced psychiatrist, medical doctor, drug counseling psychologist, nursing sister, drug addiction and alcohol dependency recovery counsellor, social worker, dietician, and occupational therapist.

For more information, contact us.

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