Instant Gratification, a Slippery Slope

Woman at home, boring

As the year is wrapping up, many of us succumb to instant gratification. We rationalize it as “celebrating the holidays” or “ringing in the new Year.” Schools are out, and there’s a decent amount of time off for the holidays or vacations. Plenty of time before we need to hit the ground running trying to get healthy, change bad habits or start New Year’s resolutions. While instant gratification can be so satisfying at the moment, we don’t often think about the long road. As addicts or recovering addicts, instant gratification can be a slippery slope.

Instant gratification is sometimes okay, as long as you accept responsibility and own your choices, but constantly giving in to it is where things get tricky. With technology, we can quickly satisfy our need for instant gratification. We now have quick and easy food delivery, Amazon orders, and entertainment, whether it’s social media or Netflix. It’s all at the tips of our fingers.

Same with drugs; with one call or one text, you can have drugs in your hand in less than an hour, sometimes. We do it without thinking, knowing that’ll be the easy choice, and it’ll quickly get our mind off whatever it is we do not want to confront.

When faced with problems, upsetting or uncomfortable situations, or even a positive thing such as a celebration, many recovering addicts find themselves in a predicament. Some can handle themselves and maintain sobriety, but not everyone has the tools to handle it. As a result, many turn back to what is comfortable for them, drugs and alcohol, and the immediate rush of instant gratification.

For so long, many used drugs and alcohol to escape their problems, hoping they would magically be solved one day and if not that, then they would not have to face them. But that is unrealistic. Some turn to instant gratification because it is easier than facing life head-on. As we all know, our quick fix for an upset was to drink or use. We become lazy and no longer want to handle it, and we want a temporary band-aid over the problem, and hopefully, just maybe it’ll heal itself.

When getting into the habit of instant gratification, you lose awareness of what is going on around you and what you need to be responsible for. If you constantly do what you want, you’ll forget what you need. Getting high and drunk all the time will cause you to lose ambition. You could get to the point where you’ll stop going to work, paying bills on time or at all, and doing whatever it takes to keep your habit up until, one day, you’ve lost everything.

When you are focused on instant gratification and want one drink to celebrate because you can control yourself, know that one drink leads to more. And eventually, you’ll end up back on the road you thought you’d left long behind.

Not gratification

There are ways to catch yourself from falling into the trap of instant gratification. The thing is to be mindful. If you are aware of what you are about to do and the consequences of it, you’ll be able to analyze it and see all outcomes. You’ll be able to enjoy things if you work for them, save for them, or earn them. Instead of just giving in immediately and later regretting it, working towards it will cause you to feel fulfilled. If you give in to instant gratification, remember there could be consequences and own them. Don’t mope and fall into defeat. You can overcome it, even if it takes time. Remember to be mindful, look at all outcomes of your decision, and own whatever choice you make.

We need to become aware of our choices because instant gratification can lead to debt, poor health, clutter, distractions, and becoming mindless. So many get fixated on wealth, appearance, and objects. When we are focused on the materialistic things in the world, we forget our core values and the important things in life. After succumbing to instant gratification, in seconds, you can forget all you worked for.

The thing to remember is you’re not in this alone. Every person, whether they are an addict or not, has indulged in instant gratification. I’ve heard many people tell stories of how they finally got clean. And for some, because they had a moment where instant gratification took over, they ended up relapsing and needing treatment again. So know there is help available; all you have to do is reach out.


Alina Snowden

Originally from Kentucky, Alina decided after changing her life that she wanted to help others understand the dangers of addiction and help families know what to do if their loved one is struggling. She now writes articles to spread awareness and positivity about how those with addiction problems can turn their lives around.