Apathy can be defined as a lack of interest, motivation, or concern. It’s a normal human emotional state when experienced periodically. However, as we tell people at our Sacramento recovery center, when it starts to dominate a person’s thinking, it can be a problem. For people who are at risk of developing an addiction or who are trying to recover from one, it is especially dangerous.
How Apathy and Addiction Influence Each Other
Apathy can develop for a number of reasons. When life is monotonous and it doesn’t seem like anything we do will change that, we may start feeling apathetic. On the flip side, people faced with ongoing trauma sometimes shut down emotionally in a form of mental self-defense as they try to avoid the pain. They can then very easily fall into an apathetic state.
Some people who are emotionally numb turn to drugs or alcohol to try and change the way they feel. Depending on the substance they turn to, they may then experience an elevated mood for a short time before falling back into apathy, or, as in the case of alcohol, the substance may actually have the effect of numbing them further. The result in either case is not healthy.
Apathy and Recovery
Apathy sometimes develops in people who have successfully recovered from addiction. After the happiness of having achieved their goal of sobriety, the reality that life can sometimes be repetitive and even boring sets in, and they go from an emotional high to asking themselves, “Why did I bother struggling to beat my addiction?” The risk at that point is that they will relapse and start using again as a way to fight the apathy.
So, how can a recovering addict beat apathy? There are a number of different strategies including:
- Make a change. Changing virtually anything about your life — the way you dress, the route you take to work, the time or place that you exercise, what you eat — can help you break free from apathy.
- Connect with people. Apathy thrives in people when they are alone. Spending more time with family and friends can provide the stimulation you need to stay interested in the world around you.
- Set goals. Studies show that achieving even the smallest goals causes our brains to release the chemical dopamine which is associated with pleasure and motivation. Physically “checking the box” on an item on a task list is a great way to amplify the feeling of accomplishment.
The Motivation You Need to Succeed
The programs we provide at our Sacramento detox center help people stay motivated during and after their recovery so they have the best possible chance for ongoing health and happiness. Give us a call to learn more.