Addiction can be a very domineering partner, preventing you from living a sober life. And indeed, when you’re struggling with addiction, you don’t really have time for anyone else to take that place. But partnerships are meant to be mutually beneficial, which makes most cases of addiction more akin to an abuse relationship.
The alternative – living a sober life and being connected – is better. But why? Some people struggle with the most unfortunate circumstances imaginable, wherein the insurance of a quick high can be a sweet emotional relief. However, addiction always comes with a price – and that price is its long-term cost, both financially and emotionally. Drug use is a very expensive past time, even if it only comes down to chain smoking. And emotionally, addiction will cost you the one thing that can be better than any high: real connectivity.
Addiction and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)
Often, addiction may be driven by the fear of exclusion – the fear of missing out. Take alcoholism – many addicts consider themselves “social drinkers”, ignoring the copious amounts of alcohol they consume both with and without friends. Sometimes, an addiction is fostered not by a love of booze, but by the fear that not indulging in every possible party means you’re not living your life. The transition to harder drugs is often a result of peer pressure, as teens especially are susceptible to risky behavior if it means gaining recognition.
Digital addiction – which has strong neurological links to other types of emotional dependency, including substance abuse – is also spawned off the need to “stay connected” with others, at the cost of actual true connection. This is because, just like most cases of emotional addiction, there’s a big gaping hole in people. That hole is loneliness and the fear of being left alone.
The fear of missing out, or FOMO as it has been abbreviated, has recently become a manifestation of anxiety. As we live more of our life online than ever before, people find themselves using their smartphones for five straight hours a day on average, checking their phone upwards of a hundred times a day. Instagram posts, Facebook updates, Twitter streams – we keep track of several feeds at a time, interrupting normal social interaction with the struggle to keep up with the next event, the next shareable thing, the next significant online story.
There is an insecurity in every one of us that somehow, for some reason, we don’t really belong. This fear drives us to improve our ability to mesh with people, to be more sociable, to interact more with others and receive their feedback. We have roles in society that we shape for ourselves or mold into, and friends we confide in for support and discussion. Yet today, technology has us superficially connected and, in a way, more disconnected than ever. While it’s true that we can communicate and relate to five people at once all over the globe in real time, we’re missing out on face-to-face conversations with the people we could spend time with here and now.
In a similar sense, emotional addicts chase the next high looking for a way to escape whatever pain they’re currently facing. Some face physical pain, others are facing the same fear of loneliness and rejection. Like the screen of a smartphone, drugs pose a distraction to keep up an emotional facade. Yet the equivalency ends here, as drugs are still far more dangerous than heavy smartphone usage can be.
By quitting this search for a fake alternative – a quick high, rather than the real thing – those struggling with addiction can find what they’re really looking for.
It takes a while, and it takes two to make it work, but the social connection is an irreplaceable thing. Having a real friend – someone who looks at you not as a tool or an object but as someone to care about and support, someone you can care about and support as well – is invaluable. Finding a friend like that isn’t possible with addiction, for the simple reason that it is all-consuming.
An addiction will eat up your money, your time, and your mind – the brain damage caused by drug use can manifest itself in a cognitive decline, cutting into your ability to think and feel. Addiction also keeps you from experiencing emotions the way they’re meant to be experienced, bottling all your stress up instead of creating an outlet through which you can blow off excess steam and come up with a solution to your problems.
Quite simply, an addiction will do nothing to get you out of trouble or help you cope with living life. A friend, on the other hand, can help. And a good friend will always help.
Time (And Lots of It)
Addiction is time consuming. You lose track of time, and you lose time you wouldn’t have with a sober life – time spent high, time spent blacked out, time spent doing things you can’t remember anymore due to memory loss. Time is a valuable thing, and we all have a finite amount of it – time is the only chance you have to make things better for yourself. If you waste it, you’re wasting away your own chance at a sober life.
When you quit drinking, using or smoking, and decide to live a sober life, you’ll find out that you suddenly have a lot more time. That’s time you can spend doing things – find ways to occupy yourself with work, with hobbies, and with other people. Don’t delve headfirst into a life of stress right after quitting your strongest form of stress relief for a sober life. Instead, take some of your time to consider a more structured approach to sobriety, such as a sober living community.
Self-Love In A Sober Life
The most important thing about quitting an addiction and living a sober life is that it frees you up not only to care about someone else but to love and accept yourself again. Self-love isn’t about narcissism – it’s about agreeing that you are worth the effort of living a sober life. It’s about believing that you deserve to try and have a little happiness in your life.
Addiction doesn’t let you do that. It feeds on insecurity, on guilt and shame. These feelings foster both as a result of stigma, and because the crash of a high can help develop depressive thinking. Cutting these negative emotions and mood swings out of your life makes room for positivity, connectivity, and love – it doesn’t automatically generate any of these things, but with time, you’ll find that you have it in you to make your sober life a better one than ever before.