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brettisdamaged 08-13-2017 12:52 PM

Very severe debilitating brain fog, can barely think straight let alone string a sentence together.
Hi everyone,

I've had this very debilitating brain fog that hit me at around the 3 month mark of being sober. It has progressively gotten worse and it is affecting me in all areas of my life. I'm finding it very hard to comprehend what is going on around me a lot of the time. For example I'll be trying to listen to someone and not quite clearly make out what they're saying to me, or if I read an article I will lose track and not quite understand the context of it. I also find it very hard to communicate with people now, finding the right words to say even at its most basic level doesn't come naturally anymore. I often have to think very hard of what to say beforehand, which is frustrating me so much because I so just want to express to people how I feel but for the life of me I just can't. Even right now as I'm typing I am finding it very hard to articulate my thoughts. My history of drug abuse started from when I was about 18 right up the age of 27 which included cocaine, ecstacy, weed, crystal meth (of which i've only smoked 5 times) and my main drug of choice, alcohol. A lot of the time I feel like there is nothing going on in my head, like there are no thoughts or feelings just complete numbness of reality and it scares the living **** out of me :c020::c020: .. I am aware that these symptoms could be the withdrawals they describe from PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome) but I am still not 100% sure if the symptoms could possibly be the indication of another major underlying problem? It's really strange though because when I was around the 2 month period of my sobriety I had such a clear head and I was really looking forward to living a life in recovery. Now it all just seems like such doom and gloom, yes I hate to say it but when you can't comprehend whats going on and life is just passing you by you can't help but think that the drugs have messed you up so bad that your brain will never heal from it. Yes I know that i'm being very negative but that's how I feel right now. Like i'm forever trapped inside my head and it is taking away my quality of life that I once had. Has anyone experienced these kind of debilitating symptoms before? Will this fog I am experiencing ever lift? Thank you you're feedback on this will help me and I'm sure a lot of other people in the world that are experiencing this hell tremendously.

KES06 08-13-2017 01:41 PM

Yes. Been there just as badly. And it started around the 3 month mark. I'm at 6 months now and it is getting much better. Hang in there!

PhoenixJ 08-13-2017 04:57 PM

your brain is rewiring. You are learning new things- so brain training is a good idea- lists, jig saw puzzles, chess.....

incognition 08-13-2017 10:20 PM

Hey there. I saw this as a private message in chat a while ago, don't know if you got my response, but anyway....

I too, have been having problems with brain fog, and they've only gotten worse with sobriety over 2 months. I'm trying to heed everyone else's advice here and give it more time. It feels like an eternity, like your brain won't ever get better, but I trust in the people that have been here before me :)

Some of those symptoms might be due to depression too. I got on an antidepressant around the 2 week mark, and it made a lot of difference in my energy levels. Still little difference in my cognitive function, but every little thing helps. And I agree with the brain activity suggestion: anything you can do to get those synapses firing will probably help. It can't hurt, at least. I've noticed since spending more time on chat rooms and message boards, I've found it easier to find things to say to people.

Dee74 08-14-2017 01:01 AM

Hi Brett

My brain fog actually started to get better at 3 months, but I'm glad others here have been what you're goign through.

WHat I can tell you is that I got better and better mentally untuil I was back to what I used to be.

It just takes time.

If it's concerning you or it really is debilitating, maybe seeing a Dr is the way forward?


shauninspain 08-14-2017 08:06 AM

Perhaps something simple and repetitive to focus the mind? Nothing too demanding because as you say you can't concentrate. I used to put on some Trance music and just dance in my underpants until I was knackered! Can't do that now as my other half would think that I had gone mad.... well madder.

brettisdamaged 08-14-2017 01:32 PM

Thank you for all your're replies. It is comforting to at least know that there are others who are experiencing this hell that we get put through. It seems quite obvious that time is the only healer here. My brain is in a process of rewiring itself hence that is whats making me feel foggy headed. In the meantime I will definitely try and stimulate my mind with some brain training activities. As of today I have already started to work on a crossword puzzles, so I'll keep everyone in the loop of how that goes. As for the anti-depressant, I've never really been overly keen on getting prescribed psychiatric meds but if it's going to help me in at least easing down the symptoms I'm currently feeling then I'm all for it. I've already booked myself in to see a psychiatrist, so I will see if they recommend it but I'm sure they most likely will. Each day feels like a nightmare (almost like an eternity) I can't wake up out of but I guess this is exactly where i'm supposed to be at in my recovery. Feeling like a zombie everyday to remind me of how bad things are or could be if I start using again. I swear to God whenever I get through this hell I will never touch another drink or drug as long as I live! Over it.

PhoenixJ 08-14-2017 02:58 PM


brettisdamaged 08-21-2017 02:39 AM

Well my friends, it seems as if the fog has thickened and day by day it is just seemingly getting worse. I cannot even communicate on a basic level anymore. I fear that I will never regain clarity again. I hate to sound so morbid this really isn't me. I'm so scared and i'm so tired of thinking what to do. Please can anyone enlighten me on this? Has brain fog been this severe for any of you? I'm not sure how much longer I can carry on like this...

Dee74 08-21-2017 03:07 AM

I know you don't want meds Brett but have you considered seeing a Dr for an expert opinion?

It could well be there's a root cause for this fogginess that may be easily treatable?


CelticZebra 08-21-2017 03:12 AM

Brain fog can be very hard to get through. Distractions by reading, learning, and doing something to get out of the constant 'thinking'
I would see a professional if it causes such distress.
I have taken medications on and off for years to help with my mental health issues and the brain fog after I quit drinking didn't truly leave until almost a year later.
It will pass, the brain is an amazing thing and many factors will effect it's neuroplasticity.
It does get better with time.

SoberCAH 08-21-2017 09:31 AM

Originally Posted by brettisdamaged (Post 6580133)
Well my friends, it seems as if the fog has thickened and day by day it is just seemingly getting worse. I cannot even communicate on a basic level anymore. I fear that I will never regain clarity again. I hate to sound so morbid this really isn't me. I'm so scared and i'm so tired of thinking what to do. Please can anyone enlighten me on this? Has brain fog been this severe for any of you? I'm not sure how much longer I can carry on like this...

This is so similar to my experience getting sober.

I was shell-shocked for a good while, it seemed.

But, slowly, the scales started falling from my eyes and my brain and I started getting better.

I'm glad you're going to see a qualified physician - that's a great idea.

The good news is that you don't have to go through this again.

Please keep up the great work and keep us posted.

ChloeRose63 08-21-2017 10:17 AM

Did you ever think of going to see a nutritionist? I take suppliments for my nerves, inflamation due to arthritis, poor diet, and brain fog. You could research what your body might be lacking.

MindfulMan 08-21-2017 11:19 AM

Hi Brett.

I had the same experience at three months, and I have a similar drug history.

Two weeks later it's lifted, still comes and goes.

Psych meds helped, depression itself can cause brain fog and difficulty concentrating, glad you're seeing a p-doc.

brettisdamaged 08-23-2017 05:38 AM

Thank you all so much for your responses, you have no idea how much of a relief it is to hear stories of others who have been through PAWS and conquered it ! This truly has been the most scariest thing I've ever been through but I have faith that I will get through it, when I do I'll look back on it and thank the living lord that I'll never have to go through such torment again!

About the meds, I went in to see a Psych Doc yesterday and she had determined that I had Bipolar II disorder. She explained that currently my dopamine levels were below than operating normal because of the years of drug/alcohol abuse causing the dopamine receptors to burn out, hence the reason I have the brain fog symptoms causing the cognitive impairment.

She also explained interestingly enough that the reason I had been abusing drugs/alcohol in the first place was because I had been unknowingly self medicating myself due to the imbalance of dopamine that my brain wasn't producing enough of (Bipolar II). The solution she said would be to then put me on a combination of an anti-depressant (Wellbutrin) and mood stabilizer (Epilizine) to get my dopamine levels back to a normal , functional level.

I'm still unsure as to whether this medication will help with the PAWS symptoms. I'm even still unsure as to whether or not I even have a Bipolar II mood disorder :/.. Either way I still remain positive and hope that this medication works, even if it does help alleviate the fogginess slightly just so that I can bear with the healing process. Have any of you tried Wellbutrin and have it work for you? Will definitely keep you all posted on my progress :)

Thank you for all the encouraging responses yet again! I have found it to be very helpful.

Briar 08-25-2017 11:05 PM

Hi Brett, I also have bipolar II, and I self medicated with alcohol for many years. Quitting actually made me very unstable for a while. It's been 2.5 years sober, and I'm still working up to maintaining longer stretches of stability.

I hope you quickly find meds that help, but it usually takes a few tries and a lot of patience. I've never tried Wellbutrin, but a friend of mine with bipolar I swears by it. I'm on Lamictal and a few other meds. It has helped a lot.

I'm sorry you have to deal with this, it's tough, but I'm so glad you saw a doctor and got a likely answer. I hope you will feel better soon! Feel free to PM me anytime if you want to talk.

brettisdamaged 09-01-2017 08:49 AM

Thank you for your response Briar. I am well aware that the meds will take sometime before the effects kick in. So I will have to remain patient until such a time. I'm well into 9 days of being on Wellbutrin now. However I'm having a particular tough week, my mind feels like its spiraling down a deep, dark abyss. I feel I can find no relief in anything. I have just recently had to move back in with my parents because I cannot perform at my work place anymore. Nothing seems to make sense anymore. I really hope that this medication makes me feel somewhat more better even if it's in the slightest bit because right now, i'm suffering a great deal. I often find myself being so weakened at times that I barely can even accomplish small tasks. I feel so disorientated most of the time and I can barely comprehend whats going on around me. I can find no sense of pleasure in anything now. The simple pleasures of even watching a movie is not even enjoyable anymore. The only time I look forward to is in the evening, when everything has quietened down and I can go to sleep. Only to wake up the next day and realize that you're still living in this nightmare.

I'm also very distressed about the viewpoint of my sponsor. He seems to think that medication is not the solution, that it will only make it worse and that the brain fog symptoms I am experiencing are being brought upon by myself. Bipolar II is just a made up disorder pharmaceutical companies make money out of. That's his analogy of the whole thing. How unreal is that. He also thinks that I am not following the spiritual steps and his suggestions to the best of my ability. Which I beg to differ, I have. I've been reaching out at the meetings, doing my step work, being of service to others but still I find no relief. Am I really bringing this upon myself? Or am I being too hard on myself?

Dee74 09-01-2017 04:28 PM

Am I really bringing this upon myself?
In a word, no. I find that assertion ridiculous.

I'm really sorry your sponsor thinks that way Brett - can you work with someone who thinks that?


KES06 09-02-2017 03:58 AM

So sorry you are going through all of this. I agree with Dee. It may be time to find another sponsor. Also, in the past when I was on anti-depressants, I felt worse before I felt better. And keep in mind that it may take a few tries of meds to find the right one that suits you. You are dealing with sobriety and your new diagnosis of Bipolar. That is a LOT to take in. I know everything seems like it's closing in on you, but there is a light at the end. Be kind to yourself. And if sleep is where you escape, then sleep......a lot.

brettisdamaged 09-04-2017 03:58 AM

Well, day 11 into taking the Wellbutrin and I hit my absolute bottom. And here I was thinking that the brain fog was bad. The medication just seemed to make my symptoms a lot worse. I was completely disorientated, confused and scared to my wits end. Through all that torment I felt absolutely hopeless and I just wanted end it all. I have NEVER had such bad suicidal feelings in my life. Prior to even taking the medication I can honestly say that the PAWS symptoms I was having were at least bearable. I am now off the Wellbutrin and already I am beginning to feel much better. However I still feel a bit unstable from the stress it has caused me. Hopefully it has not caused further damage and I can at least recover back to where I left off as I am still feeling quite fragile from it.

My pdoc says that she finds it strange that the Wellbutrin didn't work for me. She has now recommended that I get put on another AD. However from having had such a bad experience from it I am afraid to even go the route of being put on another AD .

So I have decided that I am going to go back to basics, back to my normal routine of how I used to do things without the meds and see where that takes me. I can honestly say things were alot better before I was on the meds and for that very reason I will remain off them. I feel confident that if I just bite the bullet through this period and stick to living a healthy lifestyle (meetings, excercise, step work) then I am well on my way to recovery. I don't EVER want to be put through that torment again. :worried:

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