Pleasure + Addiction = Pain
Most people start their habit because their activity of choice brings them pleasure. Once this habit is a long term problem we start to become aware of the consequences our addiction brings with it and we then realize we don’t want to do a certain activity anymore. The problem is that although we now realize the pain our addiction is causing us we still remember and like the pleasure that often goes along with it. So the question is, can we increase our pleasure in life by overindulging in an addiction? The answer is almost always no.
When we overindulge to increase pleasure what we are always doing is what I call “selling our pleasure back words”. An extreme example of selling pleasure back words is the heroin addict. A heroin addict will tell you in the early stages of addiction how great this drug makes them feel. They get high and have pleasure for 4 or 8 or 16 hours per day. But when we fast forward 18-24 months we find a person whose pleasure has diminished from hours to minutes or maybe even to seconds. Their only joy is the first few minutes or seconds of their new high. And after this limited pleasure quickly fades they remember again the wreckage that their life has become.
A more common example is one who parties their head off in High school or college, then graduates and parties for the next few years with hardly a break. What was new and exciting in school is now the norm. There is nothing new about getting smashed now. What is new now is the cautionary tale you feel obligated to add to your stories. It now goes like this; I got smashed out of my mind last Tuesday. We were all over town, we even saw Harry our old buddy who moved away but is back visiting. I was so late to work I thought for sure I would get fired this time.
Now instead of partying you are just plain getting drunk to erase the pain of a list of problems you now have. Paying off that DUI. Another relationship down the tubes. Finances in the toilet. Always feeling tired and unhealthy. The short time of pleasure you now get when you start drinking for the day has been partially or completely overrun by the problems the addiction has created.
The point of this article is that most people can never increase the amount of pleasure that they can have in their lives for the month by going back to an addiction. If you have been clean for a while you can go back to your addiction, have a binge and have pleasure. But you are simply stealing pleasure from the future and selling it back words. The extra pleasure you are stealing now will be stolen back from you later with interest. The interest you will pay is a decreased amount of pleasure later and an increase in the amount of pain and damage you will have.
Key Point #1 Never sell pleasure back words. Realize that you will not gain extra pleasure by going back to your addiction. When you are tempted by your addiction you can calmly and correctly tell yourself; if I give in to this temptation I will not get more pleasure, I will just move the pleasure around and that will come with a severe price.
Instead find other ways to enjoy life that will help you beat your addiction. Learning how to pray can bring you great joy. Read the Bible, read Christian books which can help you find your purpose. Read Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. It could change your life. Today make it your goal to replace your addiction pleasure (which comes with pain) with the pleasure of trying to help the people around you and by trying to bring them joy.
I want to recommend two activities for you. First make a list of other pleasurable activities which you do less because of your addiction. Refer to this list when you are tempted and do one of the activities instead of the addictive behavior.
Next, say to yourself every morning and every evening “I can’t increase my pleasure this month by going back to my addiction”.
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I am a father of four children, and I write about overcoming addictions. I write articles about specific addictions as well as writing on techniques for quitting all addictions. I believe that all addictions can be overcome if you use the right techniques and develop new habits. But the key is that you really have to want to change. I work in accounting and my hobbies are poker and chess. I love playing with my four-year-old daughter.