It’s Time to Talk About Anosmia and the Impact on Addiction Recovery

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Every living person and being on the entire planet, including birds and other creatures, have their senses of sight, sound, smell, and other senses which help them navigate their world. Lack of any senses can be a huge deficit in nature as it is in real life for humans. Anosmia, or lack of sense of smell, can feel debilitating for people who suffer. Find out why it is a challenge for people in addiction recovery and how to overcome this obstacle.

Olfactory Senses

The sense of smell is important for people because it helps them determine if something is good or perhaps bad. A baby who has a stinky diaper needs to be changed. A person with bad breath may need to have a medical exam because it sometimes means their health is challenged in some way. It might also mean they ate egg salad for lunch, but it might mean a host of things. The point is that people use their sense of smell to figure out what is going on in their environment. Without it, the world can feel a bit darker. Smells trigger memories and feelings, as well as evoke emotions. Without it, life can feel like it has lost some richness.

Dangers of Anosmia

There are some hidden dangers to anosmia that may not be apparent to those who have not considered this challenge:

  • Not being able to smell gas leaks, chemicals, rotten food, or soured liquids like milk
  • Smelling hazards in the environment where they work
  • Lack of experience in testing foods or liquids

A person without a sense of smell will not know the difference if they are born without the sense of smell, but someone who knows what they are missing can also experience emotional devastation at not being able to smell beautiful things like flowers or nice perfume.

Late-Onset Anosmia

Late-onset anosmia is usually caused by an illness or head-injury. It may also be caused by addiction. People who use drugs that are snorted through the nose, including cocaine, may end up losing their sense of smell. There is also a sense of loss about not being able to smell or experience this sense in the same way again. Psychologically, this may be devastating for people in recovery, leading to depression, anxiety, or relapse.

When a person struggles with anosmia, it can change their life. Learning to cope can be the best way to move forward with a productive life. There are many other ways to experience food and life without a sense of smell. It helps to have therapeutic support to train the brain and body how to use the other senses more to make up for what is lost and, yet, still experience a joyful life in recovery.

Sound Recovery helps you get present in the moment with our programs, services and resources. If you are struggling with mental health issues, physical challenges in recovery or just want to help a loved one heal, we are here to help. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, let us help. Call us at 561-277-3088 to get started.

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