A couple of things could be going on here. Abraham Maslow, a famous psychologist who is most known for his work on self-actualization, writes about one characteristic of individuals who are self-actualizing which is their continued freshness of appreciation. He notes that these individuals have a “wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again… the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy, however, stale these experiences may have become to others.”
Essentially, it’s the idea that people get used to their blessings and take them for granted. He believes that people, for instance, are more apt to be loved and appreciated after they have died than while they are still here. He notes a similar thing is true for physical health, political freedoms, and economic well-being. We don’t recognize their value until they’re gone.
Perhaps part of the problem is that you are not appreciating or valuing what you have. You may be taking aspects of your life for granted. To change this, you might try keeping a gratitude journal which would help to focus your attention on that which you have. Focusing your attention may increase your appreciation for what you have and what you are doing.
Meditation might also be useful. It likewise forces you to focus your attention inward. The science of meditation suggests that it is highly effective not only for the mind but also for the body. It is been shown to reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and other conditions. In general, it helps with calmness and relaxation, and positively enhances one’s overall well-being.
It makes sense that you would feel better when you’re on drugs. That’s why people do drugs. Getting high feels good but there are severe consequences for using drugs. One is, as you mentioned, the potential for addiction. You shouldn’t need to use drugs to feel better. It’s a sign that something is wrong. Keeping a gratitude journal or trying meditation are both good alternatives to drugs. You want to do everything in your power to avoid doing drugs to feel better.
My recommendation is to undergo an evaluation with a mental health professional. They will review your symptoms and determine if a diagnosis is warranted. Most importantly, they will recommend a specific treatment. You might benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which is a highly effective psychological treatment that can help with a range of problems including depression, anxiety, alcohol, drug use problems, eating disorders, among others. At its core, it assists with faulty thinking, learned patterns of unhelpful behavior, and changing thinking patterns. CBT also helps with problem-solving, increasing one’s confidence, and learning better ways to cope with the stresses of life. Studies have shown that CBT can positively change one’s thinking, and decrease problematic emotions and behavior. You could benefit from this type of treatment.
Good luck with your efforts. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle