What is euphoric recall?
Euphoric recall is a state in which individuals view the past with rose-colored glasses, so to speak.
In this condition, people recall certain memories with exaggerated fondness, even if the actual event seemed undesirable at the time it occurred. Negative aspects of the past are downplayed, while the positives are embellished.
Who can experience euphoric recall?
Everyone has likely experienced euphoric recall at some point. For example, some people are miserable during their romantic relationships, but after breaking up can only remember the good times and wonder why they ever left. Some people struggle through high school and feel miserable every day, then reminisce fondly about “the good old days” after graduation. Some people hate a member of their family and do anything to avoid them, but after the family member dies they forget all about the pain they caused them and emphasize what a great person they were during their life.
How does euphoric recall prompt the cycle of addiction?
Drug users often experience euphoric recall when remembering past instances of substance use. Individuals tend to focus on the pleasurable effects of the drug, instead of the negative realities such as worsening health, withdrawal symptoms, bad decisions made under the influence, etc. Failing to recognize these negative consequences of drug use may prompt the cycle of addiction.
Can acknowledgment of euphoric recall help with relapse prevention?
Absolutely. When cravings hit, the first thing that comes to mind is the relief that the drug will bring, not the consequences that will arise after using. By taking a moment to pause and acknowledge that euphoric recall is partially to blame, you give yourself time to maintain control. Remember that you are in charge of your actions; you don’t have to give in to psychological devices.
What is the opposite of euphoric recall?
Some people glorify the positives of drug use, and others on the opposite side of the spectrum crucify sobriety. They ignore the positives of living a drug-free lifestyle, and instead focus on the pain and suffering they perceive. They may argue that they have no friends since leaving their drug circles. They may insist that they are bored all the time and find no pleasure in life anymore. They may swear that their creativity and passion are gone without the illicit drug use that once fueled their artistic endeavors. Again, acknowledgement can be a helpful remedy for this exaggerated viewpoint. Try making a gratitude list every morning and include even the smallest notes of appreciation. Starting the day with a positive state of mind will eventually help to reframe your psychological biases.
What is positive expectancy?
This is yet another part of the cognitive bias opposite euphoric recall. Specifically, in ‘positive expectancy’ individuals believe that drug use changes their life for the better and fixes certain problems; they expect positive outcomes from drug use. It is important to remember, though, that the so-called positives are short-lived and limited at best. The high may feel good for a bit, but the long-term physical, mental, and emotional health damage is not worth the temporary rush. What’s more, drug-use causes neurological changes that impair judgment, memory, impulse-control, and more, so the more you use, the more you think that using is a good idea even when the evidence shows otherwise. This is an especially common mindset for individuals in recovery, since they are often learning to face their problems head-on instead of masking them with substance abuse. They want to use again, thinking the drugs will magically make the problems disappear somehow.
What is anhedonia?
Anhedonia is a common element of the early stages of recovery. It is an inability to derive pleasure from normally pleasurable events. It is a feeling of low neutrality, usually accompanied by a lack of motivation to engage in day-to-day activities. Because drugs hijack the brain’s pleasure center, individuals in recovery who once derived pleasure from substance use find themselves craving “feeling” again. It is important to remember that anhedonia will only last temporarily while the brain works to heal itself. Slowly but surely the body will remember how to derive pleasure from normal stimuli and the anhedonia will fade away. If it doesn’t fade away within a few months, you may need to speak to your physician about the possibility of having major depressive disorder, another malady often characterized by anhedonia.
What can Two Dreams do to help?
If you (or a loved one) are struggling with substance use, please call us today at 504-510-2331.