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The Role Pleasure Plays in Addiction

It can be safely stated that pleasure largely has to do with why people engage in substance abuse or behaviors like gambling or sex. There is nothing wrong with pleasure. The brain is inclined to pursue pleasure on a regular basis. Without it, life doesn’t seem to hold much meaning other than to work to feed and shelter ourselves.

However, the line between pursuing substances or behaviors for the sake of pleasure and the sake of addiction is a very thin one. Once individuals cross it, how large of a role does pleasure play in maintaining an addiction?

The Roles of Pleasure in Addiction

A popular argument has been made that addiction is purely a pleasure-seeking behavior. This argument makes sense. To those who have not struggled with addictive behavior, it may seem like common sense that someone continually abuses substances or maintains self-defeating behaviors because they get joy out of them.

Why would someone engage in something with such devastating side effects if it wasn’t pleasurable? Studies have shown that people, on a philosophical level, use substances because they have guaranteed results. However, individuals who struggle with addiction abandon “the effort of striving for a goal, which has an uncertain chance of success, in preference for the certainty of the drug-induced pleasure.”

Other studies that involved more input from those struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) or behavioral addictions have shown that pleasure doesn’t play as strong a role in addiction as might have been thought. Those who struggle with addiction can feel burdened by it.

The results of the addiction, though guaranteed, cease being enjoyable at some point. People who struggle with substance abuse or behavioral addiction often hate the source more than those who witness them struggling with it.

The Pain of Addiction

Maintaining an addiction is hard. The mind constantly craves more and more. When it doesn’t get what it wants, the results can result in the painful physical turmoil of withdrawal. Addiction occupies every thought and influences every decision. The entirety of the day is focused on satisfying a seemingly endless craving, and even when it gets what it wants, it only asks for more. There is nothing enjoyable about that.

At any point in time, the brain can turn any pleasure into a need if individuals give in to it enough. Some people may be more finely tuned to embrace substance abuse or behavioral addiction. However, everyone is at risk of losing control. Knowing when something is no longer “a want” and has stepped into the role of “a need” is the key to maintaining balance in life. Finding treatment when an individual has stepped over the line is a crucial part of growth as people.

Life can be rewarding in a way that far exceeds the temporary results that addiction offers. The true task of living is to find long-term rewards. The answer is never in substance abuse or behavioral addiction. Those are pitfalls that keep individuals from living the life they were meant to live. True pleasure comes with truly living.

Addiction is not something that thrives on pleasure. It succeeds by convincing you that you need it more than anything else life could possibly offer. The difference between pleasure in addiction and pleasure from actually living is night and day. If you struggle with substance abuse or behavioral addictions, experiencing real pleasure from life might sound impossible. But it’s not. The Guest House can help you find true joy in living. Call (855) 483-7800 today for more information on our treatment programs.