Addiction is hard to beat. People can spend their entire lives tackling and fighting a battle against the urge to relapse. Stress, tragedy, hardship and depression are just a few of the reasons some of us might seek solace in old friends like addiction – and the only thing stopping us is the knowledge of just how sad things can get when we let that happen.
So naturally, when recovering from an addiction, it’s our instinct to do anything we can to insulate ourselves from the chances of a relapse. Now, that’s not a bad attitude to have. When you’re struggling with recovery, it’s obvious that one of your main goals would be to keep a relapse from happening, and that one of your main motives for doing so would be to maintain your sobriety.
And one common way of doing that is by channeling the attention away from addiction and towards passion. We decide that, obviously, if we keep taking our drug or drugs of choice, we’ll endanger ourselves and those around us. Our life will be a havoc of instability, and a hurricane of problems for everyone who cares about us. And our addiction will stand in the way of anything we’ll ever want to achieve.
Instead, some people decide to create a new passion for themselves or discover a new passion to give themselves to in their entirety, one that won’t destroy their life. Of course, the natural question to ask then is – is that wise? Let’s dig a little deeper.
Why People Get Addicted
A drug addiction, on a basic level, occurs when the body is exposed to a substance with an addictive nature. Addictive substances work both emotionally and physically – a physical dependence is related to addiction but not quite psychologically equivalent, and occurs when the body builds a tolerance to the effects of the drug, and requires you to consume more and more of it to achieve some effect.
Cutting it off entirely will result in a withdrawal, which feeds the behavioral need for a drug to feel pleasure, or avoid pain. This is especially true for alcoholics, wherein withdrawal is even more dangerous and painful than in an opiate addiction.
On an emotional level, people often develop an addiction to feel better. That’s the simplest way to explain it, but in the individual’s case, it’ll be anything but simple. Life can often put us in the harshest of situations, dealing with the worst of circumstances, and drugs are a welcomed solace, especially when you don’t know any better or couldn’t care less about the long-term.
There are also times when we don’t acknowledge our problems, and don’t realize that we’re using our drug of choice to feel better when there are issues that need to be addressed in a healthier manner. And at times, emotions have little to do with it – in chronic pain patients, for example, the big danger of addiction is the fact that without opiates, the pain is constant and at times unbearable.
Whether physically or emotionally, addictive substances are so easy to get hooked on because they make us feel good. They make us feel happy. However, quitting an addiction doesn’t necessarily mean you’re vowing off any form of pleasure. There are ways to be happy without drugs.
Passion Is Healthy
Some swear that the best way to fight an addiction and the temptation of relapsing is by getting your fix of happiness through something else. That’s where passion gets involved. It’s important for recovering addicts to go through a phase in their post-rehab life to do as much as they can and discover as many ways to feel happy as possible.
By trying out new things, making new friends, and taking chances to explore different methods of treatment like meditation, yoga and physical competition, you increase your chances of finding a new “addiction”, or more aptly, a passion, one through which you can define yourself and achieve something to be proud of. Something to focus on, something so powerful and important that it becomes a motivator for you to remind yourself, even in your darkest days, that you don’t need your drug. You don’t need it to feel happy. Because for the first time in forever, you have the chance to truly be happy with yourself, in all honesty, and not artificially.
Differentiating Between Passion & Obsession
Passion can be dangerous. Like a warm hearth, too much of it can become a roaring house fire. You want something to keep you warm in the cold and dark winter nights, and not something that consumes you and everything you are.
Learning to catch yourself when a passion becomes an obsession is much like with realizing that you are indeed addicted – when something becomes destructive to your life, your health, your relationships and your ability to communicate with others and be a part of a family or society, you may have to rethink your commitment to it. Is this healthy behavior? Are you happy? Or are you singularly consumed by one activity? We all need some balance in life.
Addiction Isn’t Always a Treatment
Often enough, addiction either develops because of an emotional or psychological problem, or it feeds one. This could be a depression, or manic disorder, or a case of general anxiety. However, it’s not black and white – mental illness and addiction aren’t mutually exclusive. They are separate issues that overlap often enough to matter to many people, but that does not mean every addiction should be treated as a symptom of something else, or as a sort of self-medicating behavior.
Sometimes, addiction is a result of being in the wrong crowd at the wrong time in your life. It may be the result of holding specific beliefs, of accepting certain norms. However, no one can be addicted and in a sober, happy place in life.
Addiction is a disease – it’s a problem, not a condition to accept and live with. You have a responsibility to yourself and those you care about to reject it, regardless of its origins. And the only way to truly know how to do so is to find out, on your own terms. We cannot tell you how you’ll best overcome addiction, whether through sports or art or the passion of a loving relationship. But we can help you find what you need nonetheless.