The Allure of the Addiction Culture and Lifestyle

The addiction culture, the addiction lifestyle, can make it very difficult for an addict to get clean or stay drug-free. As they say on the street: “it’s not the drug that will kill you – it’s the addiction lifestyle.” One of the main causes of relapse has to do with the old way of living.

Culture of Addiction a Barrier to Recovery

So why is this? For starters, there are some drug addicts who have difficulty separating from the old addiction culture and lifestyle. Simply changing old playmates and playthings can be considerably difficult. For instance, even if a person does make the decision to stop using, he may have a hard time letting go of his “friends” (and I use that term loosely). There may be a period of time when the affected individual feels like he is in limbo and does not have any significant relationships. It’s like the old adage, “water seeks its own level.” Who better to commiserate with than someone who is in a similar circumstance? There’s a certain degree of “familiar pain” that goes into these relationships.

Another thing to consider, in terms of addicts and relationships, is the age-old concept of peer pressure. Peer pressure isn’t just for teens. Anyone can fall victim to the influence of others with the proper amount of effort. Despite the addict’s best intentions, when faced with the proposition of using drugs or alcohol, she may end up caving in to peer pressure and saying, “Aw, what the hell, can’t hurt.” This is a major reason why staying away from people who are using substances is so important, especially for those in early addiction recovery.

Then there’s also the risk factor. It goes without saying that addiction is fraught with hazardous activities. There’s just something about taking risks that turns many addicts on. It's part of the addiction culture. I recall that during my active addiction much of the pleasure I derived from using was the risk involved and the fact that I was getting away with something. It was this form of perverse excitement that I found so satisfying.

Developing Supports to Break Free of Addiction Lifestyle

So, what can one do so the addiction lifestyle isn't so alluring? It is vital that if you are trying to get (or stay) clean that you develop a healthy drug addiction support system. This can be done in a variety of ways: 12-Step fellowships, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, or church/religious recovery groups can all be sources of positive influence in the quest to remain drug-free. Supportive family members can also be invaluable.

The quest for freedom from active addiction is a challenge, this is true. But we can make it somewhat easier if we do not glamorize the addiction culture and addiction lifestyle. The next time you consider getting high, think it through. Remember the consequences of your past use. At first, it may seem like it was so much fun but the reality is that there was very likely a hefty price to be paid for the transient experience of your use.

How have you been able to escape the allure of the addiction lifestyle?

APA Reference
Shallowhorn, K. (2012, June 11). The Allure of the Addiction Culture and Lifestyle, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 24 from

Author: Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

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