Feeling Emotionally Numb: Restoring Emotions In Addiction Recovery

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After years of substance use and addiction, you might feel emotionally numb. Whether this happens consciously or unconsciously, addiction tends to cause people to turn off their emotions. Sometimes this response occurs due to past trauma, anxiety, fear, stress, or other responsibilities. When you use substances to cope and suppress feelings, you might think that you are making the right decision because it helps avoid short-term pain. However, this avoidance continues to feed addiction and leads to riskier thoughts and behaviors.

Numbness is a response to the actions and emotions in yourself and others as a way to avoid chances of being hurt. Such avoidance can shield you from all the risks that these stressors might pose. However, when you are emotionally numb, you prevent yourself from developing healthy relationships with yourself and others. Further, turning off emotions leads to a lack of joy in life. For example, you may notice that people aren’t as fun to be around, and therefore you have a negative response to this. Recovery is all about restoring emotions and relationships with healthier thoughts and behaviors. Let’s look at how you can cope and manage your emotional numbness.

Identify the Source

Multiple reasons contribute to the impulse to numb your emotions. Perhaps you have endured grief over the loss of a loved one, rejection, or experienced traumatic, life-altering events. Such a response to numb emotions is not usually a generalized thing; there is often something specific at the source. The source might occur over days, months, or years. If you suppress the emotions tied to the event in an attempt to diminish pain, you might have a hard time remembering the full, raw breadth of the experience. Recovery is all about reconnecting with and balancing emotions. Therapies that work to help confront your thoughts and identify the source include:

Notice When things Change

Thinking back to before your addiction and the kinds of emotions you experienced can help you discover the sources of your emotional numbness and help you identify where and when things began to change. It might go back as far as childhood or come from something you experienced in young adulthood.

Additionally, being able to identify these moments helps to better understand why you are having such thoughts. For example, suppose you are experiencing a difficult social situation instead of looking at the situation from a logical perspective. In that case, you might turn inward and blame yourself or call yourself a failure for why certain situations are happening—finding why and when your attitude shifts help you gain perspective on situations and understand that you are not a failure or at fault.

Connect With Others

Building and maintaining a strong network is a foundational element to sustaining recovery. Friends, family, and peers that you trust will help you work through your feelings. Alternatively, isolating yourself to protect your feelings can lead you further into negative thoughts and behaviors and even relapse. Instead, make connections with others and reconnect with loved ones. Doing so will help you see that you are still loved and supported.

Additionally, such relationships help you express your feelings in a healthier way and even discover that you share similar experiences with others. Having this kind of support is not only comforting, but it is helpful for trusted loved ones in understanding what you are experiencing, providing them insight on how to respond to your needs more appropriately. Part of remaining socially active requires you to continue to attend therapy and 12-step meetings.

Seek a Therapist or Counselor 

Seeking care from a professional qualified to treat mental health disorders is extremely helpful in overcoming difficult emotions. Therapists and counselors aren’t just there for you in extreme situations; they are there for you for any challenge or breakthrough that you experience in life and recovery. Seeking a professional in a one-on-one setting can also be more comforting for you to open up initially. These spaces are safe, judge-free, and everything discussed is confidential. A therapist or counselor can also give you homework and coping mechanisms to continue developing at home.

Overcoming emotional numbness is challenging; however, it is necessary for helping you move forward in recovery. At Choice House, we offer various treatment models and therapy to help men develop the skills and relationships needed to overcome emotional numbness. In addition to the comfortable setting of individual therapy, we also provide group therapy and help for families. We strive to help men by providing treatments and therapies that speak to their individual needs. With a location in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, you will find that taking the journey with us is inspiring, motivating, and empowering. If you require help with substance use or mental health issues, then the time to act is today. Help us rewrite the narrative and perception of men and their inability to seek help to inspire awareness of how much success men gain afterward. To learn more, contact Choice House today and call (720) 577-4422