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Old 12-03-2008, 06:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
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recovering addicts that cannot feel emotions

has anyone experienced a recovering addict that has a problem with emotions.

I'm mean all emotions, love, hate, guilt, sorrow, all of them.
my son is a good guy and wouldn't do anything to hurt someones feelings, but if for some reason he does, he lacks the remorse. He won't be ignorant about it, he'll just remain quiet because he knows he doesn't feel what he should feel. I hope I'm explaining this right. I was watching celebrity rehab and amber said she can't feel things anymore and I'm wondering if this is a natural accurance with recovering addicts. And will these emotions return?
by the way he is 1 yr sober this month. yippie!!!!!
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Old 12-03-2008, 07:39 AM   #2 (permalink)
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For me, it wasn't so much that I had no emotions. I had plenty of emotions, I just didn't know what they were. I didn't know how to verbalize them. I didn't know how to interpret them. I didn't even know the difference between many of them.

And I'm still learning. I've been sober almost 17 months and I'm still just getting the hang of it.

In talking with others in recovery (both addicts and alcoholics) it's pretty much the same story with them too.

I used chemicals to mask my emotions so that I wouldn't feel anything. It's tough for me when getting sober and all these emotions start happening again and I have no clue how to deal. I don't even know where to start sometimes. It's like, I feel something that I'm not comfortable with, now what? Not a clue. Only thing I could think of was to get high.
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Old 12-03-2008, 07:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I don't know if this will help but my daughter didn't seem to care one way or the other really. I mean she went thru the motions but you could tell she didn't have a heart about things. She seemed to say she was sorry to me but she didn't mean it. She hurt other people and always walked away from it or even moved to get away from it.
I am not sure if this was due to drugs or just her way of dealing. Never could say she was sorry, she wrote me notes but never once said it. Or to anyone else that I know of that she hurt terribly. Or she would not talk about it ever just act like nothing had ever taken place. Very cold in my eyes and yet if you met her you would think she was the most happiest person because of her personality or ability to push everything out. But I always knew it was a show so to speak. But she would never discuss anything with me or anyone then.
It wasn't until she was in rehab that she broke down and cried, I mean really cried and sobbed when her therapist was talking about her to us and she let everything pour out then. You could see she really felt it, I saw expressions on her face I had never seen when she was talking to us. She isn't a huge talker now but she does say she is sorry when she has hurt me somehow and she is willing to sit and talk some what but not like probably most daughters and moms talk.
I think what ever happened in rehab was a big part of her recovery and I just pray it stays that way. She is going on 8 months sober so I am happy for that. Congrats on your son with a year and one month.
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Old 12-03-2008, 08:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justanothrdrunk View Post
For me, it wasn't so much that I had no emotions. I had plenty of emotions, I just didn't know what they were. I didn't know how to verbalize them. I didn't know how to interpret them. I didn't even know the difference between many of them.
Although this isn't for substance addiction in my case, the same applied to me, prior to therapy.
It took me a long time to accept that I feel anger.
And to not be ashamed of my tears.
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Old 12-03-2008, 08:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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There's a saying in the rooms that once you get clean/sober, "the good news is you get your feelings back, the bad news is we get our feelings back". Like justanotherdrunk says, we used chemicals to mask or anaesthetise what we felt. It takes time to adjust and to be able to express our feelings appropriately...like learning to walk again. I don't always get it right either but do non addicts and alkies always get it right too? Working the Steps and my program has really helped but there's always something new to learn. Emotions - such a minefield.
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Old 12-03-2008, 06:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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From a psychological perspective, numbing one's feelings is a know method of self-management. It is in the general category of "resistance", not to be confused with something negative. It basically is when feelings are too varied or intense, a person might automatically numb themsleves out so that they can stay functional.

Most of us do this on some level when we need to. It is common when we lose someone suddenly to death. Sometimes it takes months or years for someone to grieve because it takes that long for them to be able to sort through their feelings and become strong enough to deal with them.

I am not sure if this is actually what is happening in your son's case. With a recovering addict there may be other issues. For examples, some drugs impact neurotransmitters that affect mood and other brain functions. Each drug affects a different set of neurotransmitters and some drugs create more damage than others.

Whether or not normal emotions return depends on a lot of factors. What drugs, how long, what was the mental state of the person before drugs, etc. I have relatives whose issues with substance abuse were triggered by the onset of mental illness.

Additionally, someone who has struggled with addiction normally has a lot to process in the aftermath. Depending on thier makeup and how intense the emotions are that need to be processed, it may take some time.

However, from what I have read, barring any underlying mental issues, most addicts recover normal emotional functioning as they recover.

Congratulations on your son being one month sober... prayers for continued recovery.
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I could be wrong, but I think I did read that over time as the addict uses he loses a chemical called dopamine that helps them feel emotions...and this chemical does not regenerate in the brain, thus leaving the addict with difficulty expressing some emotions as time goes on. I'm living proof because abf has often seemed to have absolutely no remorse for things he has said or done to hurt me, none whatsover even after I asked for an apology...the blame was often shifted to me........I really think he is dopamine depleted to some extent.
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Old 12-05-2008, 12:26 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Most (if not all) of the recovering addicts are know are too full of emotions. We are sometimes emotional wrecks. I believe my problem as an addict was never the absence of emotions; its was not knowing how to deal with them that made me want to use, especially the feelings of fear, sadness, hurt, anger. Happiness was OK to feel, but I felt it seldom,unless high. I want to also say that when I was on antidepressants of the SSRI type I had very flattened emotions. That is one of the main reasons I no longer take them. Using addicts have a lot of emotions too. I was always crying, or yelling - one or the other. My daughter, a using addict, is a jumble of emotions.

HOWEVER - remorse is another subject altogether. I don't consider remorse an emotion actually. I consider it (at this point) a sign of recovery and maturity. I had a lot of trouble with that, especially when I was using. I still have trouble admitting when I am wrong, although in recovery I usually am able to admit to myself that I am wrong, and then I force myself to admit it to God and someone else, and then hopefully (usually) I am willing to make that amend. Never, ever, did that stuff happen when I was usiing. I always blamed somebody else and rationalized my own actions. My AD does know how to apologize for her actions, but I wonder if she does that as a sort of manipulation just to get off the hook. She isn't really capable of changing since still using drugs, so getting off the hook for her actions would become the goal for her.

Just my 2 cents....
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Old 12-05-2008, 05:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I could be wrong, but I think I did read that over time as the addict uses he loses a chemical called dopamine that helps them feel emotions...and this chemical does not regenerate in the brain, thus leaving the addict with difficulty expressing some emotions as time goes on. I'm living proof because abf has often seemed to have absolutely no remorse for things he has said or done to hurt me, none whatsover even after I asked for an apology...the blame was often shifted to me........I really think he is dopamine depleted to some extent.
Dopamine is artificially created by drugs. Hence, the high euphoric feeling. The dopamine is that is naturally present in the brain senses the artifical dopamine and stops producing more. The disruption of dopamine causes the addict to be incapable of experiencing pleasure from anything including the drugs (which is why the addiction progresses and they use more and more) pleasure cannot be found in anything in life therefore they chase what they think gives them pleasure DRUGS.

The disruption of dopamine causes the flat effect. That means that they are numb cannot express any emotion. Its almost like drug addicts become sociopaths. They say and do what they THINK you want to see and hear, apologies, begging, I m gonna get help, blah blah blah. But they really cant feel anything. Especially the way you feel without being a drug addict......
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Old 12-05-2008, 06:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I can't speak to the chemical responses, but I can tell you how it was for me and for others who've shared with me.

I was an emotional drunk/druggie, and when I first got clean, I had to fake an emotional response. Well, I didn't have to--but felt compelled to, as I was a good actress and wanted to fit in. It took a while before I could connect to anything other than the fact that I was clean in the present moment. I refused (or was unable) to think about my "wreckage" and any new emotionally provoking situation didn't have much of an affect. I can see now that there was a lot of ego present in my attitude. I was clean. What more do you want from me? That I do things that are unacceptable is of no consequence. Can't you see the impressive fact that I'm not using?

I was able to reconnect with emotions once I got into step work with my sponsor. With some humility, I could see that I wasn't god, that there were folks around me who were affected by my actions, and I set out to right (to the best of my ability) the wrongs of my past and try not to create new ones in my present. I'm on a pretty even keel today, though I do have deep and authentic feelings. I don't get overly anxious about the future (I said "overly!"), and I don't carry many regrets or resentments from the past. That's a product of step work. Emotionally, I can only live one day at a time. It's in that window that I deal with what's on my plate. I don't know if your son is in a 12 step program, but if he is, and depending upon where he is in his steps, he will eventually come to dealing with all of it--past, present and future--according to the morals that he's defined for himself.

Peace & Love,
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:35 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Im having this problem with my abf. Just got out of rehab Friday, and is in a three quarter house now. When he was using (opiates, heroin), he was very affectionate and loving and, as much as i hate to say it, made me feel good. now he is just very.... blah. he hasnt said i love you in probably 3 weeks. we are expecting a baby and he doesnt express any excitement or nervousness towards that fact. he says things that arent outright rude, but somewhat hurtful and doesnt seem to understand why they upset me. he talks about wanting me to pick him up so he can "get laid", not to see me or because he misses me. i DO try and walk on eggshells, and i watch what i bring up with him and i dont argue with him, i know none of that will help the situation right now. i dont know if im sounding selfish, but i know he has to take time to mature and learn remorse and all of that, but is this normal? im not sure if i can deal with this complete lack of emotion, especially when im trying to help myself during this process. any feedback is appreciated!
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:43 PM   #12 (permalink)
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omg krista!!!
stay away =(
he is being rude, and hurtful. you deserve better.
please, please don't put yourself through that mess anymore.
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