Songs, literature, and movies frequently glamorizes drug and alcohol use, often showing the "highs" and "fun" without drawing attention to the hard realities of an addicted life. This leads many people to view a lifestyle of substance abuse and addiction in unrealistic ways, assuming it's the gateway to a fun lifestyle filled with interesting people and exciting adventures.
However, the truth is that a lifestyle of addiction and substance abuse is not glamorous or positive. Although certain aspects of heavy drinking or drug use may feel sociable, a addicted lifestyle often leads to encounters with "lower companions," or people whose behavior we would not otherwise tolerate or like.
Under the haze of substance abuse and addiction, we stop worrying about protecting ourselves or truly connecting with real people, and simply co-exist with fellow addicts, engaging in behavior that might otherwise appall us. Here are some of the reasons why addiction leads to a drop in the standards of people with whom we hang out.
Substance use does not affect people in positive ways
Drugs and alcohol affect the brain in ways that decrease your ability to appreciate what's really in the world. What may seem like a pleasurable high or drunk state is in fact a suppression of your brain's reasoning and processing abilities.
In a normal, sober state, you are able to analyze your behavior and think about the consequences of your actions, but someone under the influence is more likely to engage in behavior that is destructive to themselves or other people. This loss of inhibitions can make otherwise intelligent and compassionate people engage in reckless, cruel, or risky behavior.
While some people use their heavy substance use to excuse problematic actions, the truth is that these actions still have consequences, and should be a sign to stay away from someone with a heavy substance use problem.
Addiction makes us less discerning about where we get what we feel like we "need"
Addiction is a craving that will overpower every other urge, need, or want you have. Your own concern for the safety and well-being of yourself and others goes out the window over what you feel like you need.
Drug dealers and suppliers are often more then happy to take advantage of this, and so you can be sure that your craving can easily lead to deeply unsavory and dangerous places, people, and conditions. People who "need" their fix more then anything else will readily hurt, steal from, or take advantage of even people they would consider friends, because satisfying the addiction is the only thing that truly matters to them.
A community of substance use gives us what we think we need, but a community of recovery gives us what we truly need
Heavy drinking and drug use at a bar or a party often feels better then using these substances alone. That is because humans are designed as social creatures, and we want to be around people who will validate us, make us feel like our behavior is ok, and make us feel accepted.
"Birds of a feather will flock together," so people engaged in self-destructive lifestyles will want to do it together. While being a part of a community of addiction can give you the temporary feeling of belonging, the truth is that it is a belonging with so many "lower companions," and based on a superficial connection that will fade as soon as the drugs wear off.
By contrast, a community of people pursing sobriety together will last, and will only encourage and support you. The people in a sober support group are truly there to walk with you and support you in the midst of all the ups and downs of life. That sort of connection and community is truly what all people need.