Emotional addictions

7 Emotional Addictions that Often Precede Chemical Addictions

Edited by Paul Alexander

Last updated September 16, 2019

One in seven people in the United States will suffer from some type of drug addiction in their lives. There are many circumstances that can lead to addiction. But none are more powerful than human emotional addiction.

Emotions are basically human responses that are an interpretation of an individual’s environment. In short, this is basically how you react to factors outside of your control. 

In cases of individuals suffering from addiction or substance use disorder, it is often emotions that lead them to experiment with substances. Most times it is a result of strong unpleasant emotions such as some form of pain. It can also be the lack of an emotion, such as joy. 

Therefore, it can be determined that it is not essentially the drug that individuals are addicted to. Rather the feeling of relief or happiness that it brings. 

If you are stuck in a pattern of emotional addiction, this can often lead to chemical addiction. There is an undeniable connection between the two.

Learning more about these emotions can help you to develop a better understanding of what specific emotions can generate drug-seeking behaviors. Read on for our top 7 emotional addictions that can precede chemical addictions.

1. Fear

Fear is an emotional addiction that can lead to a downward spiral. Someone who is prone to this negative emotion might be unable to think rationally. Their thought process and judgment is then clouded by fear and their decision-making is faltered. 

In a primitive sense, fear is supposed to create urgency for action in dangerous situations. This is so that someone might find safety and security. But when fear is illogically placed on non-urgent and non-life-threatening situations, it can be extremely daunting to deal with.

Instead of dealing with the frustration of fear, some individuals might turn to illicit substance use. They may do so in order to put off the inevitable and relieve the fear. 

For example, someone might be struggling with fear about growing up or just the future in general. Trying to escape this fear can be incredibly difficult to do. In some cases, people may feel like they have no other option but to escape from their emotions, even if only temporarily. 

Unless a situation is warranted, this type of fear is not something that gives way to a productive life. In fact, it’s an emotional pain addiction that could lead a person to begin using drugs as a means of escaping negative thought patterns.

After all, the temporary escape mentioned earlier sometimes seems to only come through alcohol or drug use. Unfortunately, this won’t do anything to help and often leads to a chemical addiction that is usually much harder to shake.

2. Anger

Anger is another major emotion that can often lead to substance abuse. It is natural and even useful in some instances. For example, it can help when a person is in a situation where it is necessary to assert himself or herself.

However, some people find that they are constantly overwhelmed with angry emotions over trivial matters. They may look for anything to make them feel more at ease.

There are plenty of healthy ways to overcome this emotion, like anger management courses, exercise, and meditation. However, those require quite a bit of effort and dedication. Sometimes, individuals do not feel motivated to invest their time in these activities. Or, they may feel as if those methods won’t help as much as alcohol or drugs. 

Anger is an emotional addiction that can cause major issues in a person’s life. Their personal and professional relationships often suffer. It can also have devastating effects on their mental health.

If someone who is prone to anger finds themselves unable to deal with how they’re feeling, they might turn to drugs to mellow out. Many drugs offer a sense of euphoria and a detachment from reality. This can be a welcome escape for those who are struggling with unpleasant emotions, such as anger. Because of this, people might quickly develop drug or alcohol addiction.

3. Grief

Grief can devastate a person’s life. Depending on the severity of the loss, it can create a huge void in their life. It can leave them feeling alone and indifferent to the consequences of their actions. 

An addiction to grief is an emotional pain addiction that often gives way to reckless behavior. If someone is faced with an extreme loss, they might find it difficult to care about anything else. This leaves them especially vulnerable to turning to drugs as a means of feeling better.

Once a person turns to drugs to try and fill this void, it can quickly develop into a chemical addiction. When an individual begins using drugs to feel better about their grief, they can soon grow to depend on their substance of choice in order to feel normal. This can lead to a chemical addiction that may quickly get out of control.

4. Depression

Depression is a common emotional response that many people struggle with. In fact, it’s the most common mental illness in the United States.

Depression is similar to grief because it leads a person to behave recklessly. Some individuals struggle to feel fulfilled or experience positive emotions about life and their day-to-day interactions with it. These individuals are especially vulnerable to developing a substance addiction. They may turn to substance abuse in order to cope with his or her feelings.

Unfortunately, many people who struggle with depression don’t seek professional help to deal with their illness. Instead, it becomes an emotional pain addiction that can suck the joy out of their everyday lives.

In other scenarios, people who are depressed do seek out help, but they are ultimately unable to get their lives back. Eventually, they might turn to drugs in order to finally feel better.

Once someone who is depressed begins using drugs, this can quickly become a raging chemical addiction. Many drugs also interfere with the brain’s chemical balances and endorphins. They can leave the addict unable to feel happy without using their preferred drug. This leads them to a dual diagnosis of emotional pain addiction being remedied by chemical addiction.

5. Desire

Not all emotional addictions come from feelings associated with sadness. In fact, there are a few somewhat positive emotions that can leave a person susceptible to drug addiction. One of these is desire. 

Basically, someone who is always desiring something more can very quickly turn to drugs in order to chase a high that can make them feel even more alive. Although their curiosity can be innocent at first, it can quickly lead to problems down the line.

Desire is an emotional addiction that can lead someone to always want something new in their life. While some people channel it in positive ways, such as travel, others might look for drugs in order to experiment.

If a person is prone to desire, they are always wanting more in their life. While this can sometimes be a good thing, it also leads many of them to try different drugs. If they find one that thrills them, they can quickly become chemically addicted to that substance.

6. Impulsiveness

Impulsiveness isn’t merely a personality trait. It’s an active emotional addiction that can lead a person to try new things on a whim. Sometimes the results are positive or at least not harmful, but not always.

If a person who is addicted to impulsivity is faced with an opportunity to try drugs, it’s highly unlikely that they will refuse. Their impulses will lead them to say yes, regardless of the possible consequences. Once they try the drugs, however, they may continue to desire more. As a result, these individuals can quickly become chemically addicted.

7. Pleasure

Pleasure is an emotion that every human desires to feel at some point in life. But, an addiction to pleasure can lead a person to recklessly pursue it. This can eventually cause the development of a variety of addictions, such as sex and gambling, but also leads to drug addiction as well.

Someone who is addicted to pleasure is always looking for new ways to feel good. In the beginning, that’s what leads most people to try drugs for the first time. However, once they’ve used the drugs, they can become chemically addicted in very little time.

The Danger of Emotional Addictions

Sometimes, people can be what is known as fear-based. Or, they may be grief-based. This means that, in many areas of their lives, they are driven by these emotions. The other 5 emotions listed above could also be the basis and driving factors in people’s lives. 

The danger of this is the fact that these emotions can often govern one’s actions, behaviors, and decisions. It can prevent them from thinking rationally or living in happiness. Also, it can leave them feeling unfulfilled. 

Sadly, this void, this lack of fulfillment, often leads people to harm themselves in various ways. It may cause people to deprive themselves of the many joyful moments life presents. Or, it may cause people to make rash decisions. It might even, in some cases, lead people to abuse alcohol or drugs. 

Allow Our Team at Northbound to Help You

Humans are faced with a variety of emotions that can lead to problems down the line. It’s natural to develop an emotional addiction, but it’s extremely important to find other ways to cope.

If you or a loved one has a substance addiction, recovery is possible. Here at Northbound Treatment Services, we are here to help you find freedom and peace. You deserve to live an addiction-free life and we are dedicated to making sure you can do just that. Start the process today in order to regain control of your life and your emotions.

References:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-body-knows/201203/emotional-habits-the-key-addiction

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.

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