The Many Ways Our Lives Are Affected by Our Addictions
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Our addictions can be all-consuming and can affect our lives in drastic and debilitating ways. We can feel greatly impaired by our addictions and all the ways in which they impact us. We can feel as though our addictions are taking over our lives completely and robbing us of our happiness and health. We can feel totally depleted by them, watching as our energy, our motivation, our ambition and hopefulness are taken away from us. We can struggle with mental health issues that accompany our addictions, known as co-occurring disorders, that bring us tremendous mental and emotional distress.
Our addictions can alter how we function in our lives, how we operate, and how we move through our days. They can be so draining and exhausting that we no longer have the same energy to give ourselves or our loved ones. We might not be able to keep up with our regular routines or function normally. We might start shirking our responsibilities, not because we want to, but because we feel totally depleted by our substance use and toxic behaviors. We also stop taking care of things as we normally would because we’re busy giving our energy to our addictions and the demands they impose on our lives. We have to keep up with our dependence and keep using in order to avoid the painful crash and withdrawal symptoms we’re desperate to avoid. We have to continuously keep supplying the demand of our addictions.
Our drugs of choice are our forms of escapism from our difficult thoughts and emotions. They are a distraction from our inner pain and wounds, our feelings of sadness, loneliness, shame and fear. We prioritize the detachment and release we feel from our drugs of choice over our challenging feelings, along with all of the tough demands of our lives. It feels much better to get high than to take care of our duties and obligations. Our work or school performance and attendance might suffer. We might derail our career progress, a classic sign of the self-sabotage that often comes with addiction. We might stop making time for our interests and passions. Other people in our lives might wonder why we’re less committed to the things we used to care about. We might be visibly more lethargic and less energetic, zoned out even. We might become more volatile, reactive, emotional or hostile, giving our loved ones great cause for concern. If they don’t know about our struggles with addiction, they might be perplexed at the changes they perceive in us. They might be confused about our erratic emotions and behaviors. They might be puzzled by the drastic changes they’re observing un us, not knowing what to attribute them to.
As these changes are taking place within us, we feel increasingly worse about ourselves, increasingly more ashamed and embarrassed of ourselves, more disappointed in ourselves. We feel deeply sad, afraid we’ll never be able to be happy. We feel extreme frustration with our inability to quit. We feel desperate to stop. We can feel horrified by our unhealthy and even dangerous choices. We can feel compulsively compelled to continue, driven by an invisible force greater than us, greater even than our higher power. We feel lost. We feel totally alone. These feelings are exacerbated by how much we tend to isolate due to our addictions. We hide from the rest of the world, and from our concerned loved ones, sometimes because we’re so ashamed we don’t want anyone to see us. We don’t want anyone to know our painful secrets, and we’re afraid that if don’t retreat from the world, our secrets will be exposed. Sometimes we isolate simply because we’re too sad to be around anyone. We might have a great deal of anxiety being in public or being around other people. We might isolate because we don’t want anyone interfering with our addictive habits and lifestyles. We want to be left alone to our own devices, even if that means we’re hurting ourselves. We can be defiantly independent, to the point of pushing people away from us. We can be so reactive, so defensive, and so protective of our addictions that we remove certain relationships from our lives altogether.
As we can see, addiction affects our lives in numerous difficult ways, one of the most harmful being how much it can disconnect us from our inner selves. We develop patterns of self-hatred and self-rejection. We self-harm. We have severe suicidal thoughts and ideation. We suffer from depression and other mental illnesses that we often never seek treatment for. Our disconnection causes us to become unclear and ungrounded within ourselves. We lack self-awareness. We lose our ability to trust our intuition and our instincts. We feel like we can’t trust ourselves, our thoughts, or our feelings. We can feel totally out of control, misaligned and uncentered. When we feel so disconnected from our inner selves and from the truth of who we are, we lose our sense of purpose. We forget our values and our life’s mission. We forget what we want to do with our lives, what we love about ourselves, what we’re grateful for about life. This can cause us to feel hopeless and defeated, disheartened and heartbroken.
Recovering from addiction involves taking honest inventory of all the ways in which we’re being affected by our addictive patterns and issues. We can only heal from that which we are conscious of. Until we come to terms with all of the painful ways we’re being impacted by our addictions, we might continue our cycles of self-destruction and self-harm, many of which we’re never mindful of. We might always be susceptible to relapse. Learning about all the elements of our addictions can help us learn more about ourselves and deepen our connection to ourselves, empowering us in our recovery.
At The Beach House, our mission is to provide the resources and environments that help people recover from their addiction and stay on the path of sobriety. Call or Text (310) 564-2761 today for more information.