Managing Feelings Without Using Substances

Managing Feelings Without Using Substances

As children, we learn ways to manage our feelings. We learn through watching our parents, interacting with peers, teachers, friends and even television.

Some of us grow up believing showing emotions is okay; others grow up believing showing emotions is a bad thing, and we have to hide them. Regardless of what we learn while growing up, it still becomes difficult at times to know how to manage your feelings.

Continue below to read about effectively managing your feelings without using substances and how Framework Recovery can help.


For those of us that have a substance use problem, the substance we use helps us to escape our feelings, even if temporarily. It helps to not think about something that caused us fear or sadness in the past. The substance, whether drugs or alcohol, allows us to feel happy or even more social. We become an entirely different person while under the influence, and we start to like that person more than the sober version.

But, what if someone advised that you can like yourself sober? That you can manage your feelings daily without a drug or a drink. Well, this is possible. Feelings and emotions are the simple ways our bodies respond to different events.

However, because of the substance use, we have spent a good deal of time hiding from these emotions. We can no longer recognize the difference between anger and fear. Our minds are not in tune with our emotions and how our bodies react during these emotional phases.


At Framework Recovery, we encourage and teach you ways to begin identifying how your emotions truly feel physically within your body. The goal is for our team to help you understand your feelings.

Once you’re able to understand what emotion you have, then and only then can you begin to manage them efficiently. Managing your emotions doesn’t mean that you don’t have emotions. It merely means that you are aware of them and can tailor your reactions. You learn when to use which coping skills that help you. In most cases, these are coping skills we have to practice every day.

So, when in the midst of our feelings, you can use the following techniques:

  • Reconstructive thought
  • Mindful breathing techniques

Reconstructive Thought

Reconstructive thought allows us to process our thoughts and feelings about a specific event (i.e., trigger) and how that affects the outcome. Using this skill will enable us to identify how to change that thought. Then, we can change our feelings and actions.

For example, when someone cuts us off on the freeway, we are quick to anger. Most times, we automatically think the person cutting us off resulted in us becoming angry, but there is more to it.

  • Event: Someone cuts us off
  • Thoughts: They intentionally did that to me
  • Feelings: Hurt/Anger
  • Actions/Results: We’re angry, possibly cursing at them, driving faster, etc.

At that moment, if we can look at our thoughts about the event and can look at it differently, then everything else changes. Instead of thinking the person did it intentionally, we may decide to think “they are in a hurry” or “maybe they did not see me.” This can result in a feeling of calmness, which then can result in us not being angry or feeling upset towards that person.

Mindful Breathing Techniques

In that same situation, mindful breathing techniques can be useful. When we become angry, most of us feel tense. Mindful breathing is a technique that can be great in situations where we become angry or anxious.

An example of mindful breathing is ‘Inhaling through the nose for four seconds, then exhaling through the mouth for five.’ As we do this, our body physically starts to loosen, and our muscles relax. Our relaxed muscles send a signal to the brain that we are no longer angry or anxious.

Practice using both of these every day. Even if you’re not angry, hurt, or anxious, we can start to identify how our thoughts affect our feelings as well as learn how changing how we feel physically at that moment can alter our current state.


Framework Recovery invests in its recovery program to help men stop living a life controlled by fear. We provide the individualized Framework needed to become sober.

“With a supportive community, caring peers and gentle guidance, it is very possible to lead a happy, fulfilling and beautiful life. All it takes is a bit of willingness, open-mindedness and consistent work,” said Chris Curran, Co-Founder of Framework Recovery.

If you or a loved one wants to start a new life, substance-free, please contact us.