While drug and alcohol misuse can destroy a person’s life, recovering from substance abuse is no walk in the park. Early addiction recovery can be especially challenging and involve uncomfortable and unexpected side effects including the onset of brain fog.
What is Brain Fog?
Brain fog, also sometimes called cloudy brain, is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms that involve unclear thinking and cognitive impairment. Brain fog can occur for many reasons such as hormone changes, medical conditions, or drug use.
Many people in recovery will experience some form of brain fog as they go through withdrawal during the drug detox process. This brain fog in recovery is a result of the brain adjusting to functioning without the substance that it has become dependent on.
Brain fog symptoms in recovery may include:
- Short-term memory loss or forgetfulness
- Problems concentrating
- Slower mental processing
Alcohol Brain Fog
Brain fog in alcohol recovery is especially common because long-term effects of alcohol use include significant changes to the brain. It takes time for the brain to readjust with neuroplasticity, especially when people do not stop drinking until later in life.
One study found that some damage may even be permanent as former alcoholics did worse on spatial orientation tests than non-alcoholics.1 Because it is harder for the brain to recover from prolonged abuse, those in need of alcohol addiction treatment shouldn’t wait to get help.
Brain Fog Remedies in Addiction Recovery
Cognitive fog in addiction recovery is typically temporary but can last several months. The seriousness of the symptoms as well as how long it lasts will vary from person to person, but there are some techniques and practices you can try to help eliminate brain fog in recovery or at least manage it better.
Physical Health Care
Brain fog in recovery can be exacerbated by poor physical health and unhealthy habits, so make your physical health a priority. Exercise regularly, eat a healthy and nutrient-rich diet, and follow a good sleep routine.
Early recovery can be stressful, and too much stress can also make brain fog worse. Set regular time aside to destress such as meditating, practicing mindfulness, or just relaxing. These practices can be especially helpful when your mind feels extra cloudy.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Especially if your addiction recovery brain fog isn’t going away, it may be a sign of a mental health condition like depression or anxiety. Co-occurring disorder treatment that also addresses these conditions may help fix mental fog.
Exercise Your Brain
The brain has a wonderful ability to re-wire itself after damage, but these changes take time. One way to potentially speed up this process is with brain games like crosswords, sudokus, and other puzzles. These activities help to strengthen areas of the brain that may not be functioning as efficiently as they should and could help reduce brain fog.
While some of these practices may be more helpful than others, the best cure for brain fog in recovery may simply be time. At Vertava Health Mississippi, formerly Swift River, we want to be there for you throughout your recovery journey. Contact us today to learn about our intensive outpatient program in Massachusetts and how it could offer you continued support as you battle brain fog and the other challenges that come with addiction recovery.
- 1. Web MD — Fog of Alcoholism Clears With Sobriety