Anhedonia and Addiction

anhedonia and addiction

Anhedonia and Addiction

Drug or alcohol addiction can have an enormous impact on a person’s mental health. As a luxury drug and alcohol rehab in Palm Beach, we understand that addiction can be a rollercoaster of emotions. While the initial side effects of drug abuse are euphoric and pleasurable, they’re often followed by a severe crash. Not only does the person’s body weaken as a result, but they may also struggle to keep up emotionally. For many people, drug abuse may leave them feeling “nothing.” 

What Is Anhedonia?

Anhedonia refers to a person’s inability to experience or feel pleasure. It’s often a common symptom of mental disorders like depression, as well as substance abuse. While it may be hard to imagine, a person with anhedonia can’t feel any pleasure or spark of joy from the things they used to like doing. Favorite books or movies are no longer enjoyable; a sunset may not seem as beautiful as before. People with this disorder may view the world through a black and white lens, with all of the colors that joy brings obscured. The two types of anhedonia are social and physical anhedonia. A person with social anhedonia doesn’t want to spend time with others or doesn’t experience pleasure in spending time with others. Physical anhedonia is when the person doesn’t enjoy physical sensations such as touch. This kind of anhedonia can be especially harmful to a marriage or relationship with a spouse that involves physical intimacy. It can also be harmful to relationships with friends and families. 

Some common symptoms of anhedonia include: 

  • Withdrawing from others
  • Self-isolation
  • Decrease in emotional responses to things they once enjoyed
  • Low self-esteem
  • Negative thoughts of others
  • Lack of empathy for others
  • Faking emotions, especially in social settings
  • Food tastes bland
  • Avoiding physical or emotional intimacy with a loved one 
  • Changes in mood towards someone they cared about 

Regardless of its causes, anhedonia is strongly linked to mental illness. At Seaside Palm Beach, we offer mental health treatment for individuals who are struggling with a mental disorder; they learn healthy ways to cope with their symptoms and regain control of their lives. 

Relationship Between Anhedonia and Substance Abuse

While it’s often a symptom of depression or a variety of other mental disorders, anhedonia and addiction are also connected. Drug and alcohol abuse both cause mental and physical changes in their users. Especially for someone who uses these substances for a long period of time, they’re more susceptible to chemical imbalances that can cause mental illness and symptoms like anhedonia. Regarding anhedonia and addiction, research suggests that anhedonia is a key factor in addiction relapse.1 Anhedonia is also involved in the transition from recreational drug use to full-blown addiction because longer use of this drug could inhibit the ability to feel pleasure. 

Anhedonia tends to be most common in people who heavily abuse substances like cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana. In a 1994 study, anhedonia was linked to alcohol withdrawal as a symptom.2 A person who attempts to suddenly stop using drugs or drinking alcohol without the help of a luxury detox program is at a higher risk of struggling with anhedonia. A possible explanation for this could be the effect alcohol withdrawal has on the dopamine reward system in the brain. Similar to mental illnesses like depression, low dopamine levels could lead to depressive symptoms, like anhedonia. Because substances like alcohol and cocaine affect dopamine levels and other hormonal balances within the brain, it’s no surprise that anhedonia and drug abuse are related. Over time, it may be more difficult for the person to feel any kind of pleasure without abusing drugs or alcohol. 

Anhedonia could also be a gateway to drug abuse. A person struggling with anhedonia or related mental illnesses may turn to substance abuse as a way to cope with their symptoms. The extreme contrast between not feeling any pleasure and experiencing a euphoric high may keep these people hooked on drugs or alcohol. Individuals in this situation often require addiction treatment to quit. 

This doesn’t have to be you. As a rehab center that offers mental health and addiction treatment, we understand how difficult it can be to cope with anhedonia. We can teach you how to fight addiction cravings and regain control of your life. Call us today at 561-677-9374 for more information. 


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