Simply put, emotions are signals within your body that tell you what’s happening. When something pleasurable is happening to you, you feel good; when something distressing is happening to you, you feel bad. In many ways, your emotions are like an instant news broadcast that gives you constant updates about what you’re doing and what you’re experiencing.


Primary emotions are your initial reactions to what is happening to you. These are strong feelings that come on quickly, that don’t involve having to think about what’s happening.


In addition to experiencing primary emotions, it’s also possible to experience secondary emotions. These are emotional reactions to your primary emotions.



Sally purged because she was feeling angry and overwhelmed. Her feeling of anger came on very quickly. However a little later she felt guilty about purging. Anger was her primary emotion, and guilt was her secondary emotion.


It is possible for primary emotional reactions to a situation to start a chain reaction of distressing secondary emotions that cause you more pain than your original emotion does.


For this reason, it is vital that you try to identify what your original primary emotion is in distressing situations so that you can learn to cope with that feeling before the avalanche of secondary emotions overwhelm you. This is where emotional regulation skills can be helpful as it teaches you how to cope with your distressing emotions in new and healthier ways.


As an addict, you have learnt to deal with emotions in a way that causes more suffering. We call these harmful coping strategies that are used when facing overwhelming emotions. We want to help you target these emotional reactions, even though you may be feeling frustrated and hopeless about controlling your emotional reactions as you have been struggling with your addiction for years, there is hope, you can learn how to control you emotional responses and choose how to cope with your emotions.


Emotions are electrical and chemical signals in your body that alert you to what is happening. These signals often begin with your senses:

  1. Sight
  2. Touch
  3. Hearing
  4. Smell
  5. Taste



The signals then travel to your brain, where they are processed in an area called the limbic system, which specialize in observing and processing emotions so that you can respond to emotional situations.


The limbic system is also connected to the rest of your brain and body so that it can tell your body what to do in response to an emotional situation.




1.)              Survival

2.)              Remember people and situations

3.)              Cope with situations in your life

4.)              Communicate with others

5.)              Avoid pain

6.)             Seek pleasure


Emotions can distort our view of reality: When feeling positive someone else’s silence may feel comforting, when feeling negative this same silence may feel awkward or even hostile.


At Oasis we have a strong focus on emotional regulation, teaching our clients the following skills:


  1. Recognizing your emotions
  2. Overcoming the barriers to healthy emotions
  3. Reducing your physical vulnerability
  4. Reducing your cognitive vulnerability
  5. Increasing your positive emotions
  6. Being mindful of your emotions without judgment
  7. Emotion exposure
  8. Doing the opposite of your emotional urges
  9. Problem solving