One of the frequent goals of alcohol or drug misuse – which can eventually lead to addiction – is the avoidance of reality. Let’s face it – reality is tough. Whether it’s difficult emotions or circumstances, family members or situations, we often struggle to hang in there, and distraction and avoidance are common coping techniques.
But when we avoid – be it through alcohol or substance use – or through other avoidance behaviors (think shopping, gambling, gaming, binge watching, eating, not eating, etc.), we’re not addressing the problems from which we’re trying to escape.
We’re not repairing – or moving away from – relationships that don’t work. We’re not experiencing and expressing certain feelings that need to be processed and addressed. And we’re not working to figure out a better path for ourselves. So, the problems don’t improve, and we’re often left with an additional problem (e.g., an alcohol or substance use disorder) in tow.
To capture this idea, someone in one of my groups recently paraphrased a sentiment by novelist Ayn Rand: ““We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality.” Thus, we can choose to escape and avoid, but what we’re escaping and avoiding will not simply disappear. Furthermore, the consequences of avoiding reality can amplify any original difficulties beyond recognition.
If your alcohol or drug use functions to help you avoid reality, take a moment to check it. There’s only a matter of time before the consequences catch up.