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What Does Anhedonia Have to Do with Early Recovery?

The right treatment center is hard to find. It requires people taking time to look for what will work to help them detox and rehab their lives after addiction. There are many factors to consider. One of them is the treatment diagnosis for mental health issues. They may be unaddressed, so it is best to find a center focusing on dual diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of symptoms from getting worse in the future. Find out more about anhedonia, or the onset of early depression, and how to navigate this diagnosis with a loved one in rehab.

Why Anhedonia Starts

Addiction is a chronic disease that requires careful treatment and management over a person’s lifetime. Some are more severe than others, requiring additional support. One quality of addiction is the ability to change a person’s brain chemistry. Studies have shown certain drugs may cause a decrease in dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates reward-motivated behaviors. These same drugs decrease dopamine receptors in the brain that impact the person’s ability to feel pleasure. With depleted dopamine levels, it is no surprise a person in early recovery will struggle with anhedonia, or the inability to feel joy.


Anhedonia does not make people in recovery throw up, feel sick, or break out in cold sweats. Instead, a person with this condition may feel ‘flat’ and ‘unable to feel joy.’ the perpetual feeling of depression may make the person feel empty and lost. Things that normally make them smile don’t have the same effect. Early recovery is hard on the mind and body. During acute and chronic withdrawal, anhedonia is seen in people with alcoholism and opiate addiction. Research shows the condition impacts people who use drugs like cocaine and cannabis. There may be a link between anhedonia, drug cravings, the intensity of withdrawal, and personality characteristics. 

Be an Overcomer

Healing is something that takes time. Two people do not heal at the same rate of speed or time. They often need longer treatment periods before achieving success. The brain does heal and damaged dopamine receptors may regenerate within 6 to 12 months. Dopamine levels rise, making recovery easier and more fulfilling.  To treat anhedonia, there are several treatment options. That treatment process may include medication and holistic therapies, and also:

  • Therapy
  • Behavioral activation
  • Nature therapy
  • Yoga
  • Nutritional support
  • Goal setting
  • Focusing on confidence and self-esteem

Anhedonia is fairly common during withdrawal. It is most often seen during early recovery and persists for long periods of time. It is comforting to know that it won’t likely last forever, but it may turn into clinical depression if a person does not recognize the signs and seek help for symptoms. 

Guest House provides quality care for clients seeking support for addiction recovery. We recognize anhedonia and its symptoms, along with other mental health issues. We support people in recovery to find healing from addiction that helps them move forward. For more information about sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call 855-483-7800.