romanticizing an addiction

The Dangers of Romanticizing an Addiction

Making peace with your past so you can grow and thrive is an essential part of recovering from a substance use disorder and any related mental health challenges. However, when you look back on the history of your problematic relationship with alcohol or drugs, there’s a risk you might begin romanticizing the addiction. What does this phenomenon mean, and how can you spot its warning signs?

What Does It Mean to Romanticize an Addiction?

Romanticizing an addiction is a form of selective memory in which you focus solely on your positive reminiscences of drinking or using, while choosing to ignore all the negative effects your illness brought to your life. 

For example, you might see a movie where the characters use alcohol or drugs to celebrate a birthday, and it reminds you of a similarly rowdy party you threw for a friend. As you think back to that night, you opt to remember only the fun parts, glossing over the fact that the party ended in a loud, embarrassing fight between you and your date.

Red Flags of Romanticizing an Addiction

Substance misuse disorder is a chronic disease, and romanticizing your addiction can jeopardize much of the progress you’ve made in recovery by making you more vulnerable to a relapse. It can be challenging to spot the warning signs of this problem in your thought patterns and behavior, which is why a family member, friend or your recovery sponsor might recognize it before you do.

Signs that your sobriety may be at risk can include: 

  • Beginning to talk fondly about the past 
  • Joking about returning to drinking or drug use
  • Downplaying the severity of your previous self-destructive behavior
  • Justifying having “only one” drink or dose to unwind 

How to Stay on a Positive Path

When cravings and intrusive memories arise, it’s crucial to take a step back and remind yourself why you decided to declare your independence from drugs and alcohol in the first place. Writing down a list of your goals and frequently referring to it can prevent you from losing sight of the big picture surrounding your recovery.

The new, sober memories you’ll create can also help you avoid falling into the trap of romanticizing an addiction. After eliminating drugs and alcohol from your life, you may be surprised to realize you can still have fun and be happy. Despite how often Hollywood depicts intoxicants as a crucial component of any celebration, it’s entirely possible to enjoy birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events and concerts while maintaining your sobriety. 

Supporting Your Unique Needs

If you’re struggling with substance misuse and a co-occurring mental health disorder and have recognized your lack of healthy coping skills, Serene Behavioral Health can help. Our medical professionals can start you on the road toward a fulfilling lifestyle with a tailored treatment plan that puts your needs first. 

Though there’s no known cure for addiction, you can learn how to manage its symptoms to avoid a relapse. To explore our care levels and evidence-based treatment practices, connect with us today

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