Regardless of what chemical you were using—sedative, opioid, hallucinogen or stimulant,—in early recovery you will feel many changes of mood and behavior, some of them quite disturbing and quite the opposite of what you signed-up for.
The Emotional Rollercoaster
Sedative, opioid and hallucinogen-dependent people get hammered with the opposite of serene and relaxed: expect an angry, irritable, impatient, intolerant, anxious, and tense mood.
Stimulant dependent individuals experience the opposite of focused, ambitious, productive, energetic, happy and accomplished: expect confused, lazy, tired and unhappy mood.
Of course mixed substance abusers—most substance dependent people—often get caught-up in the perfect emotional storm. This is more likely to happen while withdrawal is still having some effects.
Good treatment programs expect these and are designed to deal with them.
Nevertheless, it’s helpful to be aware of the possibility of such changes and to recognize them as a part of a transition to a healthier state rather as signs of fundamental psychological problems or long-term difficulties, although, where present, is addressed by our detox/rehab treatment teams.
Boredom in Withdrawal
The boredom or anhedonia of stimulant withdrawal is one of the most noticeable of all these early recovery mood swings.
You feel depressed and empty, and this can happen when you stop taking almost any drug. This is partly because you feel that you have just given up the only thing that for years has provided any pleasure. And when you’re not able to feel pleasure, it’s difficult to imagine anything that would give you pleasure; it’s even harder to motivate yourself to try to find something new that will.
It’s a little like the way you feel right after breaking up a really serious love affair; you can’t imagine a person who could make you feel the same, or even imagine that it is possible to fall in love again.
How to Move Past the Emotional Tribulations of Early Recovery
In the beginning, you may have trouble believing in a power greater than yourself: just start out acting “as if.”
Pick an activity or make a plan and start doing it as if you are going to enjoy it.
Try to remember (or ask someone close to you to remember for you) something that you once enjoyed before you became chemically dependent. Nothing may appeal to you at first; the very idea of trying to enjoy yourself may even turn you off.
And even when you make yourself do things, you may not feel great pleasure at first. But it will be much better than slumping into a chair and letting depression take over.
If you keep at it, you will suddenly surprise yourself by actually having a good time.
To help combat boredom, depression, and anxiety, you need activity that replaces not only drug taking but all the time-consuming business that goes with it.
When you’re not occupying yourself most of the day and night with drug seeking, drug taking, recovering from hangovers, trying to scrape money together, time may seem to hang heavy. You may not yet be in physical or emotional condition to engage in anything very demanding.
Start with something simple that can hold your attention while making only minimal emotional demands on you.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse problem, please reach out to our addiction specialists for guidance and support, at (877)-RECOVERY.
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