You are asking a very important question. The reason you find rewards like alcohol and drugs unrewarding is that they are artificial rewards. They have nothing to do with the act that is being rewarded. Thus they ring hollow. Often people keep giving themselves more and more of these phony rewards in an effort to, finally, feel rewarded but they are entirely missing the point.
True gratification comes inherently from being totally and pleasurably involved in what you are doing. Positive Psychologists often quote Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who, in 1975, named the ultimate internal gratification as “flow”. He said, “Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz”. Some people call it being “in the zone”.
Other writers have emphasized that the only true way to positive self-esteem is to do good in the world. Doing good is something to feel good about. Doing good makes people feel good which motivates them to do more good things that contribute to the world.
Nathaniel Branden, author of The Six Pillars Self-Esteem, said “How do we keep our inner fire alive? Two things at minimum are needed: An ability to appreciate the positives in our life — and a commitment to action.” That “inner fire” is the reward that matters.
I’m sure you have at some time in your life experienced this, You get so into what you’re doing that time flies, you feel great, you get something accomplished that really matters to you. It’s a better high than any drug or drink or party can provide.
My advice to you is to stop worrying about whether others are getting rewards you are not getting by partying. You aren’t missing a thing. Shoot for the inner satisfaction and gratification that is available to all of us if we stop looking outside of ourselves for rewards and instead do the things that make life joyful.
I wish you well,