In Personal Resources, Relapse Prevention, Sober Living

Early sobriety fatigue is a phenomenon characterized by a sense of weariness or discouragement experienced by individuals working to abstain from substance use. This complex and multifaceted condition arises from the challenges associated with sustaining sobriety, encompassing physical, psychological, and social elements. As a critical aspect of addiction recovery, sobriety fatigue deserves a detailed examination and comprehension within the medical community to administer improved support and interventions for individuals working toward long-term sobriety. In this article, the addiction experts of our Northeast rehab locations delve into the dimensions of early sobriety exhaustion. We will explore its underlying causes, manifestations, and potential clinical implications to advance our understanding and enhance addiction treatment efforts.

The Connection Between Fatigue and Recovery

The first year of sobriety tends to be the hardest, as individuals who once relied on their daily use of drugs or alcohol to experience pleasure must now recreate their lives on a sober foundation. During this first drug- or alcohol-free year, it’s common for individuals to experience sobriety fatigue.

Also referred to as recovery fatigue, sobriety fatigue is a condition experienced by individuals who are in the process of achieving and sustaining abstinence from drugs or alcohol. It’s characterized by an extreme sense of exhaustion, discouragement, or emotional strain caused by the ongoing effort required to avoid substance use.

Sobriety fatigue is the result of the physical, psychological, and social challenges associated with recovery. This condition can manifest as a persistent feeling of fatigue, frustration, and even a wavering commitment to sobriety.

Additionally, lethargy itself is a common symptom of withdrawal from numerous substances. This is especially the case for stimulants, which are drugs that induce increased neural activity in the central nervous system (CNS). When undergoing medical detox from cocaine or methamphetamine, the individual may experience lethargy as well as depressive symptoms.

Sobriety fatigue may also result from a general lack of sleep during withdrawal, as is common with most substances. Not only can the body struggle to adjust to a lack of drugs or alcohol, but it may also be recovering from the general impact of these substances on REM and the sleep cycle.

People who abuse drugs often binge and go without sleep for days at a time. Not sleeping, combined with the effects of the substance in question, these problems can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates sleep and waking schedule. These issues can transfer to sobriety and can take time to adjust.

Is It Normal to Sleep a Lot in Early Sobriety?

Speaking of sobriety exhaustion, it’s very normal to sleep a lot in early sobriety. More specifically referred to as hypersomnia, this is a common occurrence in which individuals experience increased sleep duration. Major factors that affect sleep in addiction recovery include physical recovery, emotional and psychological stress associated with cravings or withdrawals, brain chemistry, and side effects of medication.

It’s important to note that while common, increased sleep in early sobriety should not significantly interfere with daily life. If someone is experiencing extreme fatigue, sleep disturbances, or other concerning symptoms in addiction recovery, it’s advisable to speak to a healthcare professional or addiction specialist. The specialists at Clearbrook Pennsylvania are experienced in aiding clients who are in recovery, and we’d be honored to help you or a loved one who’s new to the sober community.

How Long Does Sobriety Fatigue Last?

The duration of sobriety fatigue can vary significantly from one person to another and depends on various factors, including the substances used, the duration of addiction, the individual’s overall health, and their circumstances. Sobriety fatigue typically occurs during the early stages of recovery and tends to improve over time as the body and mind adjust to a substance-free lifestyle.

In general, the acute phase of sobriety fatigue can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. During this time, the individual may experience symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbances, mood swings, and cravings. The silver lining, however, is that the acute phase is often followed by a period of gradual improvement, during which energy levels, mood, and overall well-being start to improve.

How to Manage Fatigue in Early Sobriety

Fatigue in early recovery is common, but there are several ways to combat your sobriety fatigue so that you can continue your sobriety journey feeling well-rested.

Set a Sleep Schedule

Many people in recovery who are feeling fatigued are not getting enough good quality sleep. One of the best ways to fight tiredness in recovery is to create a sleep schedule and stick to it. You should go to bed at the same time every night and wake up around the same time every morning, even on the weekends. Although you may be tired, napping throughout the day can make it harder for you to fall asleep at night and throw off your sleeping schedule. Sleep is important in recovery, and a regular sleep schedule can reset your circadian rhythm so that you feel less tired during the day.

Create a Pre-Bedtime Routine

Sleep disturbance and insomnia are common in recovery and can lead to early sobriety exhaustion. A good way to help your body fall asleep at night is to create a good pre-sleep routine. Your body and mind may need time to wind down before falling asleep, so use the hour or so before bedtime to relax. Create a routine where you read, meditate, take a bath, have decaffeinated tea, or listen to soothing music. This regular pre-bedtime routine can alert your body and mind that it is almost time for bed and can help make falling asleep easier.


People in recovery may be experiencing sobriety fatigue due in part to stress. Levels of stress can predict levels of fatigue, and high stress levels are correlated with higher levels of fatigue.3 Early recovery especially can be a time of high stress as people adjust to a completely new way of life and combat strong addiction triggers. Make it a point to try to decrease the stress in your life or take measures to de-stress regularly. Yoga, meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapy are all helpful practices.

Get Active

If you are fighting fatigue in addiction recovery, the last thing you probably want to do is go to the gym, but exercise can help. Regular exercise is proven to boost mood as well as energy levels.1 Start slow with some stretching and light exercise before working your way up to a more intense exercise routine. If you need motivation, get a friend to join you or try an alternative means of exercise like rollerblading, dance classes, or a sports team.

Mind Your Diet

Changing your diet is one of the many ways to fight fatigue in recovery. A diet high in sugars can lead to crashes. Instead, try to eat energy-boosting foods like whole grains, proteins, vegetables, and healthy oils and eat smaller meals more frequently.2 You should also try to increase your water intake because dehydration is one of the leading causes of fatigue. While caffeine provides a short-term solution for fatigue, it can also come with long-term consequences. Too much caffeine can interrupt your circadian rhythm and sleep schedule, which will ultimately make your problems worse. There is also the dreaded post-caffeine crash that can leave you feeling sluggish in the middle of the day.

Be Patient

Lethargy may be a part of the early recovery journey, and learning to deal with sobriety fatigue may take time. Be patient. The more you follow these healthy habits for combating fatigue in recovery, the more likely you are to see improvement. If your fatigue persists for many months, you should consult a doctor. Other issues may be at play and causing you to feel this way.

Our Addiction Recovery Support

As one of few Pennsylvania rehab centers with decades in the addiction treatment field, Clearbrook knows that sobriety fatigue can not only impact physical and mental health but could also lead to relapse. Therefore, it is important to create good habits and be mindful of what to avoid in recovery.

Getting sober can be a long and trying journey, but there are plenty of resources and support available at our facility. Call Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621 or contact us online for more information about our addiction treatment in Pennsylvania.

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