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What Is Addiction Recovery Fatigue?

In the early stages of recovery from substance use, the process of treatment and addiction recovery can take up the entirety of your everyday life. 

Recovery comes up in most, if not all, conversations. You listen to recovery podcasts, follow social media accounts of others in sobriety. 

You may be attending substance abuse treatment on a daily or weekly basis. Recovery becomes a central aspect of your relationship with others and the world around you.

For some, this can eventually lead to a unique form of burnout. The term ‘burnout’ is generally used to refer to burnout caused by work. 

However, many people in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction use this term to refer to a specific type of fatigue that comes from occupying a reality that revolves around being sober.

Addiction recovery fatigue, therefore, is one term some people use to describe a certain type of tiredness or extreme fatigue that can come from working towards and maintaining recovery.

What Causes Addiction Recovery Fatigue?

Some people in early sobriety report feeling “addiction recovery fatigue” as a result of how much space their sobriety takes up in their day-to-day life.

In the early days of recovery, this is normal and healthy. Your recovery needs to be a priority. This gives you time to focus on your physical health, your mental health. It validates the fact that taking care of your well-being matters. 

Recovery from drug or alcohol abuse can at times feel like a full-time job. Attending addiction treatment, talking to doctors, creating safety plans, and keeping yourself on track as you progress on your journey becomes your way of life. 

As with any full-time job, it’s understandable that this could become exhausting. Causes of this type of fatigue can vary. They may be medical, mental, and psychological in nature.

For instance, some causes of recovery fatigue might include:

  • emotional vulnerability involved with therapy
  • long-term effects of drug addiction
  • attending highly structured and intensive treatment programs
  • long or frequent commutes to treatment centers
  • spending most of your time thinking about your recovery
  • not eating or drinking enough water
  • prolonged withdrawal symptoms (e.g. depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping)
  • underlying medical issues (e.g. disrupted circadian rhythm) 

Recovery fatigue isn’t a sign of personal weakness or a sign that you’re doing something “wrong”. It’s also not a sign that you necessarily need to let up on how much space your recovery occupies in your life. 

Fatigue generally—be it physical, mental, or psychological—is a common symptom experienced by people in the early stages of recovery. 

There can be many causes for it. If you’re experiencing severe physical or psychological distress, consider talking to a healthcare provider or behavioral health specialist for guidance.

Signs Of Recovery Fatigue

Some people describe recovery fatigue as a type of exhaustion that you feel mentally and psychologically. However, it’s also true that the body and the mind are connected.

If you’re feeling exhausted physically, you’ll probably feel this mentally and emotionally as well. And vice versa.

Signs of recovery fatigue might include:

  • physical tiredness
  • mood swings
  • irritability
  • decreased motivation
  • reduced energy levels
  • loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • withdrawing from others
  • feeling lost
  • less interest in attending treatment (including support groups)

Recovery fatigue is not a diagnosable condition or disorder. Rather, it’s an experience that some people in addiction recovery report having, as a result of what can be a whole host of factors. 

Treatment itself can cause a sense of fatigue, especially after an intensive detox or inpatient treatment program.

Ways To Manage Recovery Fatigue

When you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, that addiction can take over your life. Beginning your recovery journey jumpstarts a process of reclaiming your life and figuring out who you are when you’re not abusing substances.

Some people describe this experience as having a sort of identity crisis. First, you’re someone who uses drugs. Then, you’re someone who is sober, or no longer uses drugs in harmful ways.

Managing recovery fatigue isn’t something you have to face alone. Any type of exhaustion can make a person want to withdraw within themselves. But it’s important to voice how you’re feeling. 

Here are some suggested strategies for managing recovery fatigue:

1. Talk To A Friend

Challenge the desire to turn inward. Consider talking to a friend, a romantic partner, or a family member about how you’re feeling. 

This can offer a fresh perspective, and they may be able to identify pieces of the puzzle you’re missing.

2. Talk To Your Treatment Team

If you’re tired of how much of your life revolves around treatment, consider bringing this up with your treatment team, or your counselor. They can offer their own advice and help you decide your next steps.

3. Check In With Yourself

Before making any big changes, make sure to check in with yourself. Consider what you think might be the cause of this fatigue, and what might be done to address it without compromising your progress.

4. Create Boundaries

If you feel like your life’s become consumed by your recovery, consider creating boundaries. Set aside time in the day where you can consider things that aren’t recovery-related. For example, your hobbies, favorite TV shows, or enjoying nature.

5. Explore Other Interests

Exploring new or old interests can help you feel more well-rounded as you consider what you want the rest of your life to look like as you move forward in life and recovery.

Living life in recovery may feel all-consuming at times. This doesn’t mean that it’s unhealthy for you, or that it will hurt you. 

Finding Help For Addiction Recovery Fatigue

It’s natural to desire a well-rounded life that is filled with joy, social activities, and a sense of normalcy in addition to therapy, support groups, and doctor appointments.

What’s important is not to let this fatigue become a way to back-track on the progress you’ve made so far. 

At Recovering Champions, we understand the recovery process can be messy and complicated. If you or a loved one is looking for a professional to talk to about these struggles, call us today to learn more about our recovery support options.

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Recovering Champions Is an accredited drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, that believes addiction treatment should not just address “how to stay sober” but needs to transform the life of the addict and empower him or her to create a more meaningful and positive life. We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness. We want to give recovering addicts the tools to return to the outside world completely substance-free and successful.

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