How to Beat Chronic Fatigue After Addiction

How to Beat Chronic Fatigue After Addiction

Sobriety and fatigue are often linked together and there’s no question as to why. Addiction recovery isn’t an easy process, and although, in many ways, it can feel like pressing a reset button, recovery does come with many emotional and physical hurdles. Honestly, starting over and beginning a new life is simply exhausting. It’s a worthy battle for yourself, but one that can be a challenge well after the recovery period has begun.

Why is There a Connection Between Recovery and Fatigue?

If you’re currently sober and are feeling more exhausted than usual, you’re not alone. Whether you’ve quit alcohol or other drug substances, your body is adjusting to a new life. Think about pulling an all-nighter when you were younger, or staying out late on a weekend night. The moment your body and mind can rest, they will do so. Unfortunately, just as it’s impossible to “catch up” on sleep, we can’t expect our bodies and brains to feel “well rested” after they’ve been through so much.

Insomnia, sleep disturbances, and general lethargy are common side effects of those going through withdrawal, and although these side effects may be at their peak during medical detox, they won’t suddenly go away after a detox program has been finished. This lethargy can carry over and linger for months.

The Adjustment Period

Just like your body changes during withdrawal, post detox means building a new sleep routine. Our bodies need ample time to adjust to that change. As toxic substances leave your body, the absence of those substances is a shock to the system. Even using substances irregularly can:

  • Disrupt your sleep cycle
  • Affect your internal clock
  • Dysregulate your circadian rhythm 

Relearning how to sleep and get the right kind of rest takes time. That amount of time will look different for everyone. During your adjustment period, remember to be patient with yourself!

You May Be Experiencing Emotional Fatigue

It can be difficult to admit that you may be experiencing a heavy amount of emotional fatigue. It’s important to remember that emotional fatigue usually goes hand-in-hand with addiction. This means, maybe for the first time in a long while, you’re feeling and facing the incredible highs and lows of daily life without the assistance of an addictive substance. This is draining on the body and mind, especially in those earlier days of recovery.

This sudden switch can be overwhelming and can lead to feelings of anxiety, emotional stress, and even bodily exhaustion. It’s essential to look towards the guidance of your counselor, therapist, mentors, and the rest of your recovery team while this is happening. Emotional exhaustion can often feel even more draining over time than anything physical. The important thing to remember while experiencing this emotional fatigue is that you’re not alone. However, self-isolation in these moments often leads to relapse and a general decline in mental health. Make sure that you have an appropriate support group in place to help alleviate the emotional stress that happens with recovery.

How to Deal with Chronic Fatigue in Addiction Recovery?

Before we go any further, it’s crucial to remember that these feelings of fatigue won’t last forever. Whether you’re currently going through detox treatment or are working on continuing recovery post-rehabilitation treatment, this emotional and physical depletion will loom over you forever.

While some symptoms of fatigue can last longer than others, keep reminding yourself that your body and mind are on a new path. There are ways to make sure you’re ready for this path ahead.

  1. Prepare yourself for the future and prepare yourself for potential fatigue. There will be days when you won’t want to get out of bed, and there will be days when you’ll deal with quick energy depletion. Consider preparing for a healthier lifestyle shift to help with these moments and ask yourself:
  • Is your current nutrition helping or harming you?
  • Are you getting an adequate amount of sleep?
  • What is your caffeine intake like? Are you getting too much?
  • What are your stress levels like? How do you plan to alleviate them in healthy ways?
  • Are you getting an adequate amount of daily exercise?
  1. What sleep aids are you using? Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule is tricky after getting clean, but it’s vital to your overall health and wellness. Medication to help with sleep issues is not recommended (unless prescribed by your psychiatrist), but there are other ways to encourage sleep.
  • Limit your screen time before bed.
  • Wear blue light glasses when using screens.
  • Avoid eating directly before bedtime.
  • Take a natural supplement to encourage healthier sleeping patterns.
  • Use mindfulness practices, and read or write before bedtime to relax.

Keep Going. You’re Getting There.

So often we think of addiction as the most challenging part of a journey. What we don’t realize is that the toughest part of any uphill race. However, it’s a challenge that’s entirely worthwhile. Feelings of chronic fatigue can seem overwhelming, but being prepared for the journey ahead can help you start your race strong.