According to the Fourth Addition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, anhedonia is a classic phenomenon among those suffering from addiction to drugs or alcohol. The term refers to the lack of being able to feel pleasure from life without the need for chemical enhancement. There must often be a long period of abstinence from the substance to which the person was addicted before he or she begins to enjoy normal life. Participating in activities that change the routine of the brain and body is one of the best ways to shorten this time period and kickstart the natural enjoyment of life again.
A New Exercise Routine
Addiction recovery almost always involves adjusting to a “new normal” and often a dramatic lifestyle change. For this reason, exercise is recommended for virtually every recovering addict. Not only does it provide a healthy and fun way to release stress, it is also a goal oriented activity. Because setting goals of all kinds is an“ important part of the recovery process, exercise is a good choice of activities. In addition, exercise releases endorphins that help boost one’s mood. This is also essential, as most addicts often have trouble “remembering” how to be happy without drugs in their system. Exercise is also helpful as a long-term activity, as joining a fitness club or exercise group is a great way to meet health-conscious individuals, rather than those who are prone to substance abuse, and therefore a bad influence.
Learning in general stimulates the brain and releases a chemical called dopamine, which is one of several substances in the human body that promote the feeling of pleasure. Following an appropriate treatment plan, former addicts should consider enrolling in classes or even taking an Internet course on a subject in which they have always been interested. Having something enjoyable to look forward to on a regular basis makes all the difference in the world for those who need something to fill the void created when they stopped using mood-altering substances.
Naturally, physical activity does not appeal to everyone, and those looking for low-key activities that are still fun and interesting should consider joining a book club or taking a writing course. Even entering a story contest can give the recovering addict a challenge that is both fun and rewarding, whether or not he or she wins the prize.
Prayer and Meditation
Sometimes it is small changes that make a difference during recovery. Many people find prayer and meditation helpful during recovery, even if they were not particularly religious before their problem developed. The person can participate in a weekly Bible study, attend a support group at church or other religious organization, meditate in private or simply enjoy knowing that his or her name has been added to prayer chains.
Although taking on anything too strenuous or mentally taxing is always a mistake after drug treatment and rehabilitation, setting a long-term goal can help the patient feel better about life. For example, rewarding oneself with a vacation or cruise after a year of sobriety is a great example of a positive future activity on which to focus. A person can read about the area, download pictures from the Internet and plan various aspects of the trip throughout the year. This will not only give the person the fun of anticipation, but will also help him or her to visualize still being sober 365 days down the road.
Millions of Americans struggle with addiction, and very few can solve their problems without appropriate treatment. For this reason, those struggling with substance abuse issues should seek help without delay.