How to Manage Sobriety Fatigue

You finally made that big change in your life—you quit alcohol. You feel peace and a sense of achievement, but also fatigue, which can be confusing. Sobriety fatigue is actually very common and a natural response of the body to time, energy, and personal resource investment in the addiction treatment process. Sobriety fatigue typically occurs […]

You finally made that big change in your life—you quit alcohol. You feel peace and a sense of achievement, but also fatigue, which can be confusing. Sobriety fatigue is actually very common and a natural response of the body to time, energy, and personal resource investment in the addiction treatment process.

Sobriety fatigue typically occurs early in the sobriety period, and it comes with a set of sobriety fatigue symptoms. They may seem overwhelming, but all your body needs is a bit of time to adapt and adjust to a life very different from the life of an addict. It´s important to stay on the right track. Turning to your social circle or professional facilities, such as We Level Up Lawrenceville NJ, can help you through these challenging times.

As sobriety fatigue is not very well known, we would like to offer some information on topics like what is sobriety fatigue and how long does sobriety fatigue last. We will share input on sobriety fatigue symptoms and help you recognize early sobriety fatigue in yourself or your loved ones.

What is Sobriety Fatigue?

Former addicts will usually say that the first year of sobriety is the toughest one, as you need to rebuild your life and establish new routines and connections. Sobriety or recovery fatigue is a complex phenomenon occurring in those who have just reclaimed their lives from alcohol abuse. It’s characterized by an extreme sense of exhaustion, discouragement, and emotional strain caused by the ongoing effort required to avoid substance use

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This type of tiredness happens because the body is trying to achieve homeostasis. Some hormones and neurotransmitters are no longer impacted by alcohol, and it takes a bit of time for their production to achieve balance. For some, like those recovering from veteran PTSD and substance abuse, it might be especially challenging as their body spent much time in flight-or-fight mode. 

Sometimes, this condition of extreme fatigue is seen as lingering physical symptoms that come after withdrawal, and only when they start impacting your life you start wondering if it´s actually early sobriety fatigue and what you can do about it. Sobriety fatigue is more likely to occur in the early stages of sobriety, and it might shake your faith in the process. However, this is a passing state, and you should stay on the right path. With a few lifestyle changes, you can fight fatigue, and you can always turn to professionals for extra support.

A man experiencing sobriety fatigue.
What is sobriety fatigue? It´s a feeling of exhaustion after quitting drinking.

Early Sobriety Fatigue

Sobriety fatigue is more prominent in the early stages of sobriety. This early sobriety fatigue typically starts in the first week of sobriety and lasts for about a month. It´s characterized by ups and downs and a variety of symptoms. 

The causes of early sobriety fatigue can be related to the rehab itself. For instance, during your first week in New Jersey rehab, you will experience withdrawal symptoms, many of which can keep you awake, resulting in general fatigue. Although medicines can help with some withdrawal symptoms, as you have already suffered due to addiction, your body and mind can still feel exhausted. 

Earlier chronic alcohol abuse can lead to malnutrition and dehydration, also contributing to the feeling of tiredness. Malnutrition and dehydration might not have been obvious to you while you were actively using alcohol, but now that your body is cleansed, they can visibly impact your daily functioning.

Finally, one of the symptoms of sobriety fatigue is insomnia, and if you are experiencing it, you might find yourself in a vicious loop of not being able to sleep and feeling tired all the time. Sleep problems contribute to fatigue, which can manifest in more sleeping issues and, consequently, fatigue.

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Symptoms of Sobriety Fatigue

Feeling exhausted after achieving sobriety can impact your life, and keeping an eye on sobriety fatigue symptoms can help with early detection and reaction before a significant impact takes place. Signs to look out for are:

  • Sleeping difficulties (typically insomnia, but also sleeping too much)
  • Feeling lethargic 
  • Trouble concentrating or having memory problems
  • Increased cravings
  • Moodiness or mood swings
  • Low self-esteem
  • Less interest in things you previously enjoyed
  • Increased feeling of distress
  • Social withdrawal

As you can see from the list, sobriety fatigue symptoms are cognitive, emotional, and physical, and they can affect different aspects of life. Cognitive symptoms, such as trouble concentrating, can impact work tasks and their completion. Low self-esteem can affect partner relationships while having less interest in activities and social withdrawal can impact friendships. Physical symptoms, like cravings, and emotional symptoms, like mood swings, can increase the risk of relapse, making it crucial to manage these symptoms through either lifestyle changes or outside support.

A white clock
How long does sobriety fatigue last? Anything from a few weeks to a few months, and it depends on many individual factors.

How Long Does Sobriety Fatigue Last?

This is one of those questions that does not have a unique and concrete answer. You might be one of those people who does not experience sobriety fatigue, but if you do, even professionals can only assume how long it will take.

What we know about how long does sobriety fatigue last is that the first stage will be the so-called acute phase. Usually, it lasts for a few weeks, but in some cases, it might take a few months. Many factors, like the length and severity of your addiction, your age, and your overall health, impact the duration of this phase. After the acute phase, there is a period of gradual improvement when your energy levels rise and your mood and well-being improve.

Overall, this feeling of fatigue should disappear within a year. It´s important to remember that it is a short-term condition that will fade away over time and that sometimes you need just a few changes in your lifestyle to fight the symptoms of fatigue. 

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Managing Sobriety Fatigue

Dealing with sobriety fatigue symptoms is important for relapse prevention and regaining complete control over your life. Managing symptoms can be as easy as making a few changes in your daily routine, but it can also be very challenging, requiring professional help. It´s all a part of your post rehab life, and there´s no shame in looking for support after dealing with addiction. 

Here are a few lifestyle changes you can introduce:

  • Setting a sleep schedule: Insomnia is a frequent issue for those in the early stages of sobriety, and you can try addressing it with a consistent and healthy sleep schedule, as our bodies love routine. Pick a time you’d like to go to bed and stick to it, even if sleeping doesn´t come easy at the beginning. Make it intentional, and choose a time that can help your body adjust with more ease. Aligning with the presence of sunlight is an easy and healthy approach. 
  • Creating a pre-bedtime routine: Those struggling with sleeping often benefit from setting a bedtime routine, which can be whatever soothes and relaxes them. Some journal, whether to put their thoughts on a piece of paper or list things they are grateful for that day. Others might choose to listen to soothing music or read a few pages of a book. You should choose something you enjoy and that brings you peace. 
  • De-stressing techniques: Increased stress also comes with early phases of sobriety, and opting for a de-stressing technique can help address this symptom. Many techniques are being recommended to fight stress, and yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are often suggested by professionals. All these techniques make you feel grounded and focused on the present instead of worrying about the future. 
  • Staying active: Physical activity is known to help with mental health. It helps with energy levels and dopamine release. It need not be intensive, even having regular walks can bring positive outcomes. It just needs to become a routine rather than an occasional happening. 
  • Maintaining a balanced diet: A proper, balanced diet can address malnutrition and, with that, bodily exhaustion. Your body needs energy and recovery, and you can give it to it with food containing antioxidants, healthy fats, and fiber. As with sleep, having a schedule helps, as you won´t forget to have a meal, and tracking your food intake can help you regain a sense of control.

If these techniques do not work, remember to always turn to professionals for guidance. They can be another resource in your life and assist you with counseling and advice. They can help you address your insecurities and empower you to take full charge of your life. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

A woman sleeping
Establishing bedtime routines can help address sobriety fatigue symptoms.

Seek Help For Your Sobriety Fatigue

Feeling tired and overwhelmed after winning the battle against addiction is completely normal. Remember that sobriety fatigue is just a phase in your rehabilitation journey, and it will pass. Be sure to stay on the right track and try to help your body recover.

If you ever feel you can´t do it alone, call We Level Up Lawrenceville NJ. We can help you keep on fighting for a full, alcohol-free life.

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Jeynes, K.D. and Gibson, E.L. (2017). The importance of nutrition in aiding recovery from substance use disorders: A review. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, [online] 179, pp.229–239. Available at: