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Will I Be Happy Without Drugs and Alcohol?

Addiction does a strange thing to our concept of what happiness actually is. Our idea of happiness becomes inextricably tied to pleasure. Rather than finding happiness in relationships, personal fulfillment, or spiritual growth, we only feel happy when we are intoxicated. It becomes our sole motivation, and the feeling of pleasure derived from drugs and alcohol entirely overtakes our conception of happiness.

The question of whether we will feel happiness in sobriety depends on how we view happiness. Psychologists have found that happiness derives from two approaches: hedonic and eudaimonic. A 2001 Annual Review of Psychology article entitled On Happiness and Human Potentials; a review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being by Ryan RM explains, “Current research on well-being has been derived from two general perspectives: the hedonic approach, which focuses on happiness and defines well-being in terms of pleasure attainment and pain avoidance; and the eudaimonic approach, which focuses on meaning and self-realization and defines well-being in terms of the degree to which a person is fully functioning.” In regards to drug and alcohol use, the concept of happiness shifts entirely into the hedonic approach.

A hedonic approach to happiness is concerned with short-term pleasure and mood, while eudaimonic happiness is a more long-term approach that takes into account one’s fulfillment of potential, pursuits, and actions. According to Counselling Connection, “Hedonic concepts are based on the notion of subjective wellbeing. Subjective well-being is a scientific term that is commonly used to denote the ‘happy or good life’. It comprises of an affective component (high positive affect and low negative affect) and a cognitive component (satisfaction with life). It is proposed that an individual experiences happiness when positive affect and satisfaction with life are both high.” Recovery programs effectively shift our concept of happiness from being entirely hedonic to incorporating more eudaimonic approaches.

Our happiness in recovery will be something powerful and new. We rarely experienced the sense of joy that comes from self-actualization, personal and spiritual fulfillment, and meeting our potential. We won’t be happy in the same way as when we were using drugs because we realize that intoxication was pleasure, not happiness. As we continue on our journey of recovery, we will gain a new sense of peace, serenity, and true happiness far greater and unlike anything we have previously known.

Your life doesn’t have to be held back by the chains of addiction. You can make the decision to seek help today and begin building a brighter future. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, brings together the highest quality behavioral health and addictions specialists, holistic experts, and spiritual guides to help clients develop all the tools necessary to achieve and maintain sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431