Addiction to any substance can take quite a toll on your health. Getting tired and feeling down after you quit drinking, sometimes called sobriety fatigue, is one of the most common sets of symptoms people encounter in early recovery. This article will explain what sobriety fatigue is, why you might feel tired and sullen after you quit alcohol and what you can do about it.
Sobriety Fatigue and The Effects of Quitting Alcohol
The human body is remarkable and capable of amazing adaptation, healing and transformation. But healing takes time and an alcohol use disorder can play havoc with your physiology. It’s important to be patient with yourself (or someone else) in early recovery. Sobriety fatigue is a common phenomenon experienced by millions of people when they put down alcohol after an extended period of relatively heavy drinking. If you’ve ever drank well beyond the point of moderation before, then you know that you don’t exactly wake up feeling your best the next day.
The hangover is the result of a combination of factors including dehydration and chemicals created as we metabolize alcohol. Compounds called congeners are found in many alcoholic beverages and in addition to ethyl alcohol, they have toxic effects that can increase hangover symptoms. The usual response to a hangover is rest and rehydration and of course, the contraindicated “hair of the dog” method which is to drink a little more to take the edge off, but sooner or later you’re not going to feel great. But all of the symptoms above come long before sobriety fatigue has a chance to set in.
The Serious Nature of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
When a person who drinks more than a couple of drinks every day stops drinking abruptly they will experience withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to note that physical withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous and even fatal in some cases. You should never abruptly stop drinking alcohol if you are a regular drinker unless you consult a medical professional about it first.
Ideally, you will want to admit yourself for a residential medical detox from alcohol. This is by far the safest and most comfortable way to stop drinking alcohol. The ‘cold turkey’ method is not only very unpleasant, it can result in potentially deadly seizures, so self-detoxing from alcohol without medical supervision should be avoided at all costs.
Physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Cold sweats
- High blood pressure
- Racing heart rate
Psychological alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
All of the above symptoms are associated with the cessation of alcohol consumption for certain periods of time. But they aren’t really what is meant by the term sobriety fatigue. But suppose you’ve stopped drinking. Perhaps you went to an alcohol detox program and alcohol use disorder treatment afterwards. Yet, 30 days or more from your last drink, you still don’t feel right. At this point it’s clearly not a hangover, so what’s going on exactly?
Understanding Sobriety Fatigue
Sobriety fatigue is complicated. It’s often misunderstood as just lingering physical symptoms that come after withdrawal as the body tries to adjust. That is certainly part of it. The body is always trying to maintain a certain balance or equilibrium. The process of the body trying to “balance” itself is called homeostasis. However, when someone is drinking a substantial amount of alcohol regularly, it can have profound effects on their physiology.
Our body’s do their best to adapt to this toxin which is being repeatedly introduced into the system. Nature does what it can to attempt to maintain homeostasis. When the drug (alcohol in this case) is removed however, it takes the body some time to adjust and begin to produce the right amount of certain hormones and neurotransmitters again. But this is only part of what causes sobriety fatigue. The factors that are often overlooked are often situational.
How Long Does Sobriety Fatigue Last? What Can I Do About it?
When a person quits drinking, there is also a toll on mental health. Frequently some damaged relationships, broken trust, maybe financial problems and other consequences of the drinking to contend with. Recovery is hard work and it can take a lot out of you, especially when you’re already on the mend, physically speaking. Things like stress, worry and guilt can all contribute to sobriety fatigue. How long sobriety lasts depends on a number of factors.
How long a person was drinking and how much. The person’s age and relative health (drinking aside). But a lot also depends on what you do when you stop drinking. If you invest in your physical and mental health and make wellness a part of your recovery strategy, then you could find yourself on the other side of that fatigue in a matter of a month or two rather than it lingering on and on.
How long sobriety fatigue lasts depends on things like:
- How long you were drinking and how much.
- Your age and relative health.
- The robustness of your recovery and mental health
- Eating right and exercising
Getting Sobriety, One Day at a Time
There’s nothing you can do about the past. You cannot change how much you drank or for how long. So we suggest focusing on the things you can control. Take care of your body, eat a healthy diet. Exercise. Make sure you are taking vitamins to replenish what you’ve lost. People who drink a lot are particularly deficient in Vitamin B1 (thiamine), B6, B9 (folate) and Vitamin A.
Remember, “easy does it”. This is one of the most important things to remember. It’s a simple idea, but not always easy to implement. Be kind to yourself. Show yourself the patience and forgiveness you would a loved one. Self-care is an essential part of recovery and taking care of both your body and mind and showing yourself patience, love and kindness are the best ways to overcome sobriety fatigue.
1st Step Behavioral Health is Here to Help
It’s never too soon to get help for a drinking problem, but it’s sadly possible to wait until it is too late. Don’t wait for the help you or your loved one deserves, 1st Step Behavioral Health has over 22 years of experience in helping people just like you or your loved one overcome alcoholism. We’re ready to listen and we’re here to help. Give us a call at (855) 425-4846 begin a chat on our site or submit your health insurance for verification using our confidential form here.