As you can imagine, detoxing from long-term drug or alcohol use is going to have effects on the mind and body. One symptom that many people describe having is a lack of clarity that can extend for months into their early recovery. Having clarity of mind is important to have in order to function in life. It’s also important to have clarity of mind during recovery in order to make decisions that promote recovery and well being. Fortunately, fuzzy thinking or brain fog is a temporary symptom that only lasts for a few weeks after detoxification. However, for others, it may remain for a few months.

Fuzzy thinking feels different for everyone. However, in general, it is the experience of an unclear mind. To be more specific, the following are physical symptoms of what fuzzy thinking might feel like:

  • -indecisiveness
  • -inability to think straight
  • -reoccurring thoughts
  • -inability to stay focused, lack of concentration
  • -forgetfulness
  • -feeling disoriented from time to time
  • -troubling registering new information
  • -things appearing less real
  • -feeling out of touch with your body
  • -continuing to think that you’ve forgotten something


These are a few ways that brain fog might appear in your life during early recovery. There are a few causes for brain fog during recovery. For instance, a person might have experienced some significant nutritional deficiencies while under the influence of their addiction. This is particularly true for alcoholics. The lack of proper nutrients can have an impact on clear thinking. As already mentioned, the withdrawal process itself can affect thinking. However, subsequent to detoxification, a person might feel the slow process of finding homeostasis. An addiction can affect every organ of the body. Therefore, it may take time for the mind and body to return to normal functioning. During this time, it’s common for people to experience clear thinking again.

Other causes for fuzzy thinking include:

  • -experiencing insomnia in early recovery can contribute to brain fog
  • -symptoms of depression (which can come with sobriety) can affect one’s ability to think clearly
  • -any fear or stress that one has about the future, which is common for someone new to sobriety, might also create unclear thinking
  • -the emotions that surface once the anesthetizing spell of addiction wears off might also contribute to brain fog


Also, it’s important to remember that during the addiction itself a person was not thinking clearly. During this time, a person may be in denial, making poor choices, and seeing life in telescopic ways. Although this is a different kind of fuzzy thinking, it’s important to point out that the experience of clear thinking may not have been present for many months or years. Yet, as the cycle of addiction comes to an end, as the brain heals, and as substances are removed from the body, true clear thinking can begin again.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the trials and challenges of addiction, contact a mental health provider for assistance.

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