As we learn more about our addictions, we discover that we've formed mental and emotional associations between our drug of choice and the emotions we most want to feel in life. We also create associations between our addictions and the experiences we crave, amongst them fun, adventure and being carefree. When we associate our drug of choice with having fun, this can be problematic and dangerous for a whole host of reasons. Not only are we failing to see just how destructive our addictions have become, we are in an endless pursuit of being the fun, humorous, lighthearted people we want to be, and we ignore our other, very serious emotional issues as a result.

We Are Pressured By Our Peers

When we're developing addictive behaviors, especially when we're young, it is sometimes a result of the peer pressure that convinces us we'll be cool, popular and well-liked by other people if we use drugs. We desperately want to feel accepted and embraced. Many of us know how hard it can be to feel rejected, especially by people we admire and look up to. The pressure we feel to fit in with our peer groups can make us experiment with drugs we might not try otherwise, drugs we know are dangerous, but which we feel compelled to use because we've bought into the idea that we can associate them with having fun. When we do try them, and eventually become addicted to them, many of the peers who were pressuring us into trying them have also become addicted, and the glamor and appeal of them begins to subside. The harsh reality of just how painful addiction can be is like a slap in the face when for so long we assumed they would be our means of having fun and letting loose.

We're Desperate to Escape Our Pain

Our motivation to have fun is not just to find a way to pass the time, it's also our way of escaping our pain. We feel desperate to have fun, to party, to go on adventures because the opposite, confronting our thoughts and feelings, feels way too difficult. We don't want to sit in our emotions and be with ourselves. We don't want to explore our connection with our inner selves. Many of us are afraid of what we'll find if we begin soul-searching. We're afraid of unearthing all our buried, suppressed memories and emotions. We're afraid of our trauma. We're afraid of our insecurities and feelings of self-hate. We're afraid of our true selves. Having fun is so much more appealing than doing the hard work of emotional recovery. It becomes our emotional escape and our means of distracting ourselves from our true selves. We're masking our unhappiness with false displays of emotional freedom and nonchalance.

We Take Chances With Our Lives

One of the many problems with associating our drug of choice with having fun is that we're not having genuine, healthy fun, we're usually doing dangerous, reckless, self-destructive things in the name of appearing cool, aloof and nonchalant. Young people live by the motto of “you only live once,” but while we do want to take full advantage of each day of our lives, they're using this ideology to justify taking dangerous risks with their health and safety. They're combining dangerous drugs, not knowing the potential effects and ramifications. They're driving drunk and under the influence of drugs. They're leaving parties with total strangers. Because they're inebriated, they're not in full control of their impulses or making sound decisions. Their judgment is impaired. Having fun can very quickly turn dangerous and even life-threatening. We're taking chances with our lives, often because we're not thinking clearly.

We're Self-Destructive

Because many of us struggling with addiction are subconsciously self-destructive, we aren't looking for ways to enjoy ourselves, we're often looking to self-harm. The things we do under the pretense of having fun are actually part of our emotional self-sabotage. We want to hurt ourselves rather than care for and protect ourselves. Our instincts for self-preservation are replaced by a desire to cause ourselves pain and turmoil. These feelings are not usually things we're aware of. They're based on the subconscious programming we've developed over time, often as a result of the traumatic experiences we've gone through. Because of this programming, we develop limiting beliefs about ourselves as people and what we deserve in life. We come to believe we don't deserve to be truly happy. We don't believe we're destined to create anything positive or meaningful in life. Our ideas of positivity and fun, therefore, are highly skewed. We don't value ourselves, and we don't believe we are worthy or deserving, so our perception of enjoying ourselves is tainted by our self-hate. We associate our drug of choice with having fun and feeling happy, but this is often because we're so deeply unhappy that we haven't figured out how to create real happiness and satisfaction for ourselves.

Our addictions are often our way of fulfilling the needs in our lives that we haven't learned how to meet on our own. Our need for fun, pleasure and happiness is one of the greatest needs we struggle to fulfill without our drug of choice because we come to associate it with being the only way we can achieve it. We think we can't relax, feel at ease or find joy without our drug of choice. We think it's the only way for us to be fun and lovable. We use it to combat our fears of social settings and interacting with people. We use it to avoid thinking about our depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. A huge component of our healing is finding ways to have fun that bring us true happiness, fulfillment and contentment, that support our goals and the progress we want to make in life rather than detracting from them.

Discover your path. Discover your purpose. Discover your life! At WinGate Wilderness Therapy, our mission is to support you as you heal.

Contact us today!

(800) 560-1599

P.O. Box 347
Kanab, UT 84741

About the Author:
Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Roots Intensives Director

Josh Nelson has a deep, and extensive background in...

Josh Nelson has a deep, and extensive background in wilderness therapy, having grown up around some of the very first wilderness...