Early on in recovery, feelings of dysphoria and depression are common. These may manifest in a general inability to enjoy life, disinterest in hobbies and feeling distant from loved ones.
These are symptoms of a syndrome called anhedonia, which is defined as a lack of ability to feel pleasure. Many people recovering from substance use disorders find anhedonia to be one of their greatest hurdles in early recovery. Often times, they have reached between 30 and 90 days in sobriety when they graduate from their treatment center. Some of them have big plans to do things they haven’t tried in years- school, being involved with their families, employment.
And many times, those in recovery are disappointed when they find that the life they dreamt of- the life they’ve been promised would make them happier- is dull and boring and sad. A few of these individuals might even admit to someone around them that they aren’t understanding the benefits of sober life. They wonder what on earth all of the struggle is for.
While anhedonia is a natural part of the recovery process, there are important things that can be done to combat these symptoms. They are some of the most simple and common solutions in the book:
As simple as these may seem, they are vital to individuals in recovery, particularly in the earliest stages. As time goes on and brain chemistry normalizes, anhedonia will become less intense and life will be fulfilling again. In the meantime, take good care of yourself. You’re on the road to recovery.