Sometimes when we abuse drugs, it’s not just to stop ourselves from feeling painful emotions. It also can be to make us feel anything at all, since we’ve become so numb and complacent in our daily lives. We have no connection to our emotions, and the drugs allow us to feel something. We prefer the high we feel when using drugs to feeling nothing at all. How do we become so numb that we’re no longer feeling anything?
Numbing ourselves to our emotions can come after a traumatic event impacts us so strongly that we instinctively try to block it out. We can repress our memories and even forget entire incidents. We can be confused about events and whether or not they actually happened. Continually suppressing our innermost thoughts and feelings can cause us to become numb to them. We essentially stop feeling anything difficult, and eventually we lose our connection to all of our emotions. Suppressing our feelings is a protective coping mechanism that we develop to try to keep ourselves safe. We associate feeling with being in pain, and we try to avoid this at all costs.
Sometimes we become addicted to a substance or behavior to help us start to feel again. We become addicted to the feelings of euphoria that we experience, and this is in such stark contrast to our feelings of nothingness and emptiness that it becomes extremely appealing to us. We’re reminded of what it’s like to actually feel. We feel as though we’ve come alive again. We feel the adrenaline from the risk-taking, the dopamine from the pleasure we feel, and the sheer excitement and adventure of it all can become addictive for us.
When we’ve numbed ourselves for so long, we don’t have a healthy relationship with our emotions. We aren’t able to identify or process them, articulate or communicate them. Our emotional development has become stunted, and we can be very low in emotional intelligence and awareness. This can cause us to be easily overwhelmed and stressed out when we experience difficult things. We can have a hard time connecting with our intuition or trusting ourselves. We can struggle to have close relationships with people, because our emotions are so distant and foreign to us. We lack the understanding of our thoughts and emotions that allows us to have a healthy relationship with ourselves or with others.
We seek solace from our numbness in drugs, because anything can feel better than feeling nothing at all. Learning how to work with our emotions is an important part of addiction recovery. Without understanding our emotions and being able to manage them, we may always be susceptible to our addictive cycles.
If you or your loved one is struggling with substance abuse, don’t hesitate to call Bayview Recovery. We’re here to support you every step of the way. Call 888-570-7154 today.