The feeling of "blah" in early recovery
There are many reasons as to why someone in early recovery relapses. While among the obvious of reasons such as girls/boys, continuing to hang out with the same group of friends, participating in "old behavior", lack of confidence and/or self esteem and countless others, not many people talk about "anhedonia" being one. Anhedonia is common in individuals that suffer from major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis, and Parkinson's disease. In early recovery the human brain is going through many drastic changes at relatively rapid rates which causes many side effects to an individual in recovery. Anhedonia is very complex and still not COMPLETELY understood but nevertheless, it is extremely common and EXPECTED in individuals in early recovery and it's crucial that the individual is educated on what is happening in the brain.
Often times in my past attempts at sobriety I remained in a pretty steady state of depression. I would be at a treatment center and participate in groups and therapy but never truly played my part in the whole thing. My inability to be honest with others about my past was a ticking time bomb that I would use at any opportunity to justify why I didn't deserve to be clean and sober. It was difficult for me to be social with others, I found no enjoyment in things that always gave me enjoyment in my past, and I always had this feeling of "blah". Unfortunately, I was never educated as to what was going in my brain chemically to produce this constant state of feeling. I ultimately would go on for a few months and feel as if this feeling was permanent and would go out and use again. Anhedonia, while very complex, is ultimately a severe dopamine deficiency in the brain and impairs underlying reward mechanisms. The good news is it's not permanent and does go away. There is no exact time table as to how long it lasts but with me specifically I remember it being until I was at about 2 months into sobriety (this number may be different for everyone and some may not feel it at all).
It is important to be educated on the brain in early recovery so an individual can understand what is happening. I wish I had known what "anhedonia" was in my first treatment center but, once I understood that the feeling was temporary and would ultimately disappear, it helped me drastically in early recovery. So if you or anyone you know is in early recovery and still seem to be in a depressive state or in a feeling of "blah", help them understand anhedonia and that although this debilitating feeling may SEEM permanent, it's not.