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What is an 'Emotional-Hangover' in Drug Rehab?

Royal Life Centers offers comprehensive addiction treatment to overcome drug or alcohol addiction. Our treatment centers provide intensive therapies to uncover the root cause of alcohol or substance use disorders, with behavioral therapies that focus on giving guests the skill set and tools they need to rebuild their lives in a happy, healthy, meaningful, and successful way.

What is an ‘Emotional Hangover’?

Often the therapeutic processes in drug rehab can be cause intense emotions to arise. With treatment, emotions are evaluated and explored, which can be a little draining. Experiences that cause intense emotions to come up can cause ’emotional hangovers’ or a feeling of emotional exhaustion. Lila Davachi, a professor of Neuroscience at New York University says “How we remember events is not just a consequence of the world we experience, but is also strongly influenced by our internal states” which speaks to the impact of our emotional experiences (Dotinga).

When Do Emotional Hangovers Happen?

Emotional hangovers don’t only occur following strong emotions of sadness or anger, but emotional hangovers can occur after something intensely happy is experienced. These emotional experiences can leave someone feeling the need to recuperate following an emotional event. Emotional hangovers happen from experiencing deeply intense emotions, whether those emotions are positive or negative.

What Happens With an Emotional Hangover?

Emotional hangovers can cause mental and physical symptoms. Mentally, people who have an ’emotional hangover’ can feel like their cognitive functioning is slowed down. People who are emotionally hungover can also have ruminating thought patterns around the emotional event they just experienced. Emotional hangovers can also cause physical symptoms to arise, like fatigue, headaches, and back pain. Many times, we don’t even realize we are emotionally hungover, despite it affecting our thoughts, focus, and memory.

How To Work Through an ‘Emotional Hangover’

Getting through an emotional hangover requires some time to restore yourself and reach an emotional equilibrium. When you are experiencing an emotional hangover after feeling a range of intense emotions, it is important to not continue to subject yourself to situations that will further wear you out emotionally. Emotional hangovers can make us feel sad, anxious, or depressed, which is why we need to practice skills and tools of distress tolerance to break through these after-effects.
Often times, in addiction recovery, we will run through a gamete of emotions during the intensive therapy of treatment. With intensive therapy, guests will explore strong emotions and also learn tools to manage their emotions and emotional responses. Addiction treatment teaches you skills and tools to create manageability in a sober lifestyle. Without using alcohol or drugs to numb out emotions, guests will learn how to regulate their emotions using helpful tools that lessen the intensity of strong emotions.
Royal Life Centers provides many behavioral therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. Our therapies will not only provoke emotions, but teach guests how to work through their emotions and best handle them. It’s important that when guests are exploring intense emotions, to remember that these strong emotions are only short term— we need to see the big picture, which is healing in the mind, body, and spirit. With that being said, you should avoid making any life-altering decisions when you are in the midst of an emotional hangover. “Emotional hangovers influence our perception of reality just as much as they influence our reactions” (Jacob).

What Can You Do To Overcome an Emotional Hangover?

There are a few things that you can do to help an emotional hangover. Here are a few ways to recenter yourself, and shift your focus from an exhausted emotional state:
• Take a deep breath, disconnect from the outside world and connect with yourself
• Meditate
• Color in a coloring book
• Make art
• Listen to uplifting or relaxing music
• Take a short nap to recharge
• Participate in adventure, activity, or equine therapy
• Watch a funny movie
• Practice yoga
• Journal about a memory that holds a different emotional connection than the range of emotions you just experienced
• Exercise
• Do crafts
• Do something fun like playing a board game
• Drink a cup of tea and practice mindfulness

How To Learn From an Emotional Hangover

Pay attention to what triggers an emotional hangover. What emotions are usually present before your emotional hangovers? Recognizing the reason for an emotional hangover is the first step to trying to understand it. Once we can anticipate an exhausted emotional state, there are more things we can do to take care of our mental health before and after emotional events. Intense emotions are unavoidable, but there are tools that you can use to manage intense emotions.
Gaining insight from your emotional hangovers will help you become better equipped with tools that work for you to help you get through a drained emotional state. In our drug rehab centers at Royal Life Centers, we teach guests tools like emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, etc. to help them through intense emotional experiences and other obstacles. Our goal is to prepare guests for independence, giving them confidence in their ability to manage anything that is thrown their way.
Mental health disorders like depression and anxiety can influence emotional hangovers, which is why Royal Life Centers treats any co-occuring mental health disorders along with your alcohol or substance use disorder. Upon arrival to one of our drug rehabilitation centers, guests will be assessed and evaluated for any co-occuring disorders.

Our Programs

Our treatment options at Royal Life Centers includes: medical detox, a residential inpatient program, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), an outpatient program (OP), sober living and graduate housing. Our treatment programs all provide intensive therapy, including individual therapy sessions, group therapy, adventure therapy, activity therapy, and equine therapy. All of our treatment programs support long term, lasting sobriety.
References:
Dinsmore, Scott. “22 Jun How to Cure an Emotional Hangover.” Live Your Legend, Live Your Legend, 22 June 1970, liveyourlegend.net/how-to-cure-an-emotional-hangover/.
Dotinga, Randy. “’Emotional Hangover’ Is Real.” WebMD, WebMD, 26 Dec. 2016, www.webmd.com/balance/news/20161226/emotional-hangover-is-real-and-affects-future-experiences-study.
Jacob. “What Are Emotional Hangovers And How You Can Beat Them?” Exploring Your Mind, Exploring Your Mind, 10 Dec. 2017, exploringyourmind.com/what-are-emotional-hangovers-and-how-you-can-beat-them/.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, please reach out to our addiction specialists for guidance and support at (877)-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Our team is available to take your call 24/7. Because We Care.

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