emotional anhedonia

Old 11-09-2009, 05:26 AM
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emotional anhedonia

Although it is my first post on this site, I have been a chronic "lurker" for several weeks after having started my efforts towards alcohol abstinence. My story is long and tedious, but, in short, I am a high-functioning alcoholic. My central issue at this point is that for the past 10 years (I'm only 27), I have been essentially absent of an emotional affect. This period of time is in direct correlation to a point in my life where I was a chronic binge drinker (the Thursday, Friday, Saturday night college drinking lifestyle). Essentially, I would drink until blackout three nights a week and, from what I now understand, go through withdrawal the rest of the week. I also experienced deep anxiety, paranoia, and fatigue during this period of time (starting with the point where I went off to college and started drinking heavily).

After going through several days of moderate withdrawal, I am currently 14 days sober. I am attending AA meetings on a regular basis. I understand the concept of post-acute withdrawal syndrome. I am ready for the fog to lift and to start feeling again. I have not become involved in a romantic relationship for the past 8 years, as, quite honestly, I know I am not feeling the emotion of "love" the same as any potential partner. Although I won't go into any detail, the sexual urge just is not there as well.

My hope is that someone will have a similar experience and will be able to tell me this "emotional fog" clears in time with sobriety. To me, the ups and downs of emotions are life.....and trust me, I am ready to start living again.
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Old 11-09-2009, 05:32 AM
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Old 11-09-2009, 05:39 AM
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hello gonezo and welcome to sr.i am 37 and had 20 years of chaos due to my to is a very long story.what i couldnt deal with in the end was the numbness,i too was ready to start living.for years the numbness was welcome.but i had had enough.i went to AA at the begining of the year and attended many meetings.but there came a time when i thought there had to be more to it.i wasnt getting happy like i saw other folk and i was in emotional termoil as feeling started coming back and i didnt know how to cope with them,and indeed life in i looked around for a sponsor,i looked for someone with a quiete confidence,a sparkle in their eye,someone who looked genuinely happy,and wasnt just putting on an act.a lady visited one of my regular meetings one day and i heard her share,i thought there and then i could tell her i asked her to be my forward a few months,i worked very very hard with my sponsor whilst going throught the steps,i decided to just hang my coat up,roll my sleeves up and get on with all the suggestions she gave me straight out of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.i cannot begin to expalin how much my life,my thoughts,my actions and my outlook has changed towards life.i can honestly say i feel reborn.this is one of the many promises made int he 12 steps.i have found that the emotional fog dosnt just lift with time,and indeed if you are alcoholic like me,unless you take a vigorous course of action towards a spiritual remedy then untreated alcoholism can be very unpleasant indeed.are you willing to go to any lengths to get sober? and i mean sober,not just the plug in the jug! if so i suggest you find someone in the rooms that looks like they have what you would like and get to work.i wish you well on your journey.
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Old 11-09-2009, 06:44 AM
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I completely know what you mean about the emotional numbness.

In the past I have had long periods of sobriety which didn't alter this state, however this time around, although I have less time, I do have flashes of feeling.

I am not entirely sure what the difference is this time but I think it has something to do with the cbt techniques I am using, they help to keep me anchored in the present and to think about myself and the world in a more realistic way.

It is a slow process but very much worth the effort it takes.
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Old 11-09-2009, 08:33 AM
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to SoberRecovery gonezo77.

I have some emotional numbness so to speak myself. However mine stems from early childhood trauma. I just trust I have more feelings than I am aware of and work with that.
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Old 11-09-2009, 08:50 AM
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Hi and Welcome,

The feelings and emotions will return.

Alcohol is a depressant and I felt numb during the years that I drank. Part of recovery has been learning how to deal with the feelings that come along in every day life.
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Old 11-09-2009, 09:26 AM
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The mind body needs time to recalibrate. I've heard
some AA members profess to spontaneous remission, conversion experience type awakenings where suddenly everything is perfect early in recovery; my gut told and still tells me it's snow, but who knows, maybe they were just hazing me to see how badly I want it. The approach to getting quality emotions back, for me involves exercise, good nutrition, healthy play time, and most importantly quality step and cbt work. You're only 27 and I have a feeling that exercise alone will kick the sex drive back in gear. You're also early in the game, if you don't notice any improvement in a couple of weeks, get a depression screen, from someone that specializes in addiction. Meds can be a great jump start for the right situation. On day 107 this time.
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Old 11-09-2009, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by gonezo77 View Post
... I have been essentially absent of an emotional affect...
Sounds like you are a good candidate for Bob Darrel,s "Overcoming the Spiritual Malady Work-Shop".
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Old 11-09-2009, 09:48 AM
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Ahhhhh yes the fog, there but not there, feeling but not quite like I was really feeling. I was a month sober before it began to lift, slowly emotions did return, far more then I could handle by the 2 month mark, I was going to meetings daily and seemed to gain a lot from them, but those emotions really started to bare down on my mentally.

I came very close to relapsing due to being over come by anger/rage, but I managed by calling someone in the fellowship to not drink that day.

I had a sponsor but was not taking the steps with him, the emotional pain was really growing and I recalled several times old timers saying that the time to start the steps was when the pain was great enough! Well the pain as the fog began to lift and feelings returned was getting pretty intense and I was at the point where I was either going to drink or take the steps! I took the steps, between taking the steps and learning in meetings how others use the steps to deal with thier emotions I would say my emotions are back and I deal with them pretty well and the idea of a drink to deal with them is non-existant.
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Old 11-09-2009, 09:49 AM
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I think you deserve kudos for not only realising you had a problem while still in your twenties but on taking action and getting yourself educated. I sort of have the opposite problem; emotional carnival while drinking, numb once I got sober. Sex was out of the question at first, after three months I feel my drive returning, but intimacy is still scary. Laughing took me a while as well, for a month or so I would honestly *think* something was funny but the only reaction I could muster was to say,"That's funny". I like this quote from Bob Egan, an American Jesuit:

"Out of the rush of new life, of unfrozen feeling and liberated imagination, comes a longing for something more, for a restoration of wholeness in our lives and a connection with a deeper source of life that could enable us to be real human beings."
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:33 AM
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Can we stop this "alcohol is a depressant" stuff, depressant does not mean the same thing as depressive.

I am not saying that drinking can't make you extremley depressed (for me, at least, it does) but it doesn't mean the same thing.
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Old 11-09-2009, 12:41 PM
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Allport, I think Anna was referencing alcohol as a depressant and the issue of depression because one that has depression shouldn't drink alcohol. The potential for increasing one's depression through alcohol use is high. Here's an article that probably explains it better then I can.

Physiological Effects of Alcohol - Role in Depression
Alcohol has been found to lower serotonin and norepinephrine levels.
**"Food and Mood," Natural Medicine Chest, Conquer Depression Without Drugs, Let's Live magazine, Jan. 2000}
"Alcohol is a depressant. People with depression shouldn't drink alcohol", says Sherry Rogers, MD, in her 1997 book on "Depression." She says that studies show that doctors miss diagnosing over 66% of the people who are depressed.
Alcohol temporarily blunts the effects of stress hormones. It typically leaves you feeling worse than ever because it depresses the brain and nervous system. One study looked at people who consumed one drink a day. After three months abstinence, their scores on standard depression inventories improved.
{The Brain, "You Can Control Your Emotional Wellness," USA WEEKEND, Jan. 3, 1999, Jim Thorton, health reporter}
People with manic-depressive disorder should not drink alcohol.
{James F. Balch, MD, newspaper columnist and radio broadcaster, 1990}
Although important for all ages, in older people folic acid deficiency contributes to aging brain processes and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Depression is also common in those with folate deficiency.
{British Medical Journal, 2002} Andrew Weil, in his Self Healing newsletter (Jan. 2000) tells us alcohol use can lower levels of folic acid. The presence of alcohol hastens the breakdown of antioxidants in the blood, speeding their elimination from the body.
The acute depressant effect of alcohol increases with BAC, and has been measured in terms of its effects on human performance at BACs as low as 0.03.
{“Alcohol Effects on People,” U.S. Department of Transportation (HHTSA), Alcohol and Highway Safety, 2001, Dec. 2002}. Author’s comments: The BAC level of 0.03 can be obtained form one or two alcoholic beverages.
Depression and Alcohol Problems Go Together
When alcohol wears off, you will be more depressed than ever.
{Ann Landers' to readers, Dec. 5, 1993, as well as many other medical sources}
Depression and alcohol problems often go together, but the evidence suggests that in men alcohol use preceded the depression, whereas in women the depression precedes the alcohol use.
{American Journal of Epidemiology, "Study Links Depression and Alcohol Problems," Washington Post Health, Dec. 16, 1997}

Here's the link to where this article may be found -
Facts and Statistics About Depression and Alcohol
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Old 11-09-2009, 02:12 PM
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That was a great and informative post Horse and I am sure (from reading her wonderful posts) that Anna in no way meant to spread disinformation.

That doesn't change the fact that repeating stuff you have heard as if it a fact is not right.
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Old 11-09-2009, 02:15 PM
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This is probably not the place to get into this discussion, so I fully apologise (bad day).
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Old 11-09-2009, 04:11 PM
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Hi Gonezo

Looks like all the experts have got here before me
I have nothing to add but my own experience anyway - the fog does, and will,

Hang in there
Welcome to SR

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Old 11-09-2009, 09:38 PM
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Another learning experience at SR

Thanks for this great post OP!

I know there are many posts that explain the anhedonia as part of the symptoms but I had forgoten about that...

I am looking forward to feeling again..although as some one commented, On my day 8 currently I am remembering a lot of things I went through while drunk and I get angry and sad even if some things happened a few years ago I get to the point of wanting to cry.

Thanks for letting us know that things get better emotionally and that these feelings are part of the alcoholism/withrawal symptoms!

Good luck!
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Old 01-09-2014, 01:12 PM
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i remember having over 2 years sober from opiates and i didnt feel much of anything tbh.
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Old 01-09-2014, 07:50 PM
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Many of the symptoms you describe, gonezo77, do in fact remit during abstinence, but it's still wise to see your doctor and then get a psych eval.
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:11 PM
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Hi there. The fog will lift with time. It took me a couple of months to even out and still find myself crying occasionally for no reason or just feeling really low for no apparent reason. Be patient and let your body and mind adjust to sobriety. Best of luck and congrats on your day count so far!
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:25 PM
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When I was drinking heavily I felt very little emotion at all. Slowly but surely things are returning to normal after nearly 3 months sobriety but I still have a way to go. One thing is for certain is that the longer you keep drinking the worse your sense of detachment and paranoia will become. If I could give you any advice it would be to see a Dr.
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