Instant Gratification Is A Huge Part of Addiction

February 28, 2010 — 10 Comments

Our world today is based upon instant gratification. Taking into consideration all of the technology that allows us to get what we want right when we want it, it’s really no wonder that we are trying to apply that standard to our emotional state.

Think of all the ways that people use drugs or alcohol pertaining to instant gratification. If you are having a stressful day…pop a pill and feel de-stressed. If you are feeling a little social anxiety or lack of confidence in a situation…have a few drinks and get some liquid courage.

By feeding these types of emotional needs with drugs or alcohol we are in a way giving ourselves a quick fix – instant gratification. We are not working on the actual problems but finding an easy way out of them. But since instant gratification in all other areas of life have now become the norm…how are we supposed to delay our need for instant gratification?

For someone who has entered into addiction recovery, life myself, we become aware of our search for instant gratification. We are now given the chance to start breaking down our bad beliefs about instant gratification.

Although we have come to the conclusion that we can’t change the world around us, we do have the power to change ourselves. We need to start separating out our emotional gratification to ensure that we are not searching for the next quick fix to our needs.

Sounds easy right? But when you sit and think about how much of our emotional well being has been dependent on our world around us…it gets a little tricky. But you can deal with a little tricky, you can work with a little tricky.

I’m still trying to figure all of this out. Since I am no longer using drugs to alter my moods I have had to start developing coping skills. These don’t always alter your moods but they begin to let you accept your emotional state and if necessary…ride it out. Riding out an unpleasant feeling is not something that I’m used to doing even now. It takes work.

This subject has been on my mind lately as I deal with my five year old son. I can see that he is used to nothing else but instant gratification and it kind of frightens me. He is not the exception, he is the norm.

I feel like our country is at a loss with how to deal with the growing addiction problems we are faced with. We are trying all kinds of ways to scare our children into not trying drugs. We show them what your life can turn out like, we talk about the health risks and all that. We show them the outcome of an addicts life. But what alternatives are we giving them?

Are we providing them with the life skills and the coping skills to thwart off their desire for instant gratification? No, as a society we are almost encouraging their need for instant gratification.

I’m not pretending to have any answers has to how to deal with it. I was just kind of pointing it out. I’m faced with this question almost everyday when it comes to dealing with my child. But I think that if we can figure out a way to change our children’s need for emotional instant gratification then we are heading in the right direction.

10 responses to Instant Gratification Is A Huge Part of Addiction

  1. Everything you wrote here really resonates with me. I have a 5 year old too, and though I have tried really hard to be the best parent I can be, I can see how she is “spoiled” in a lot of ways. I don’t have any answers either, but I know a lot of parents who are struggling with the same questions – even those who don’t have addiction issues.

    I wish you the best of luck in cultivating a taste for delayed gratification in both your self and your child. I’m pretty sure it can be done, even if I’m not sure how to do it.

  2. Same feeling here. I have a 7 year old girl who I believe is still spoiled despite many of the effort I have put in place. However, it is getting exceptionally and exponentially better now that she is 7 and 1/2 in comparison to when she is was 5 and 6. I think the age of 5 and 6 was the age of stubbornness more than anything else.
    All I can advise is to follow as much as possible some of the fundamental principles in life such as first be patient then apply persistence and discipline in your efforts. It is important to evolve in a fluid motion so to say meaning don’t be rigid with yourself your wife and your children as you may break them (in spirits of course). What I observed is, and be very conscious of it, that children learn enormously from the behavior we display (many times unconsciously) around them so don’t be surprise to see some of your characteristics in them. And don’t be upset to see the ones you hate in them but work on correcting and/or avoiding their displays in front of them. What is gratifying though, about the experience of having to go through that abstinence/correctness is how self aware we become of who we are.

    I hope it makes some sense .

  3. I also suffer from instant gratification addiction. I am 57 years old and the awareness of my addiction has increased greatly since I was 38 years old when I stopped using alcohol and nicotine. Since then I’ve gained a greater clarity as to the origin of my use of chemicals to alter my consciousness and state of unhappiness, confusion, or self-dissatisfaction. I’ve discovered that the compulsive impulsive states started when I was a child with the attraction to sugar and candy to ‘coat’ away the pain states of childhood.
    The sugar addiction was transformed into alcohol dependency.

    The continued struggle is daily with the mind and heart in a struggle to gratify or not, either through food or sexual release or alcohol indulgence, even if in moderation.
    The degrees of release from the addiction of instant gratification vary with the intention to be free of the attachment to the gratifying behaviour, and the attention which is given to stop the behaviours which continue and reinforce the thoughts, actions and behavoiur patterns which are compulsive, impulsive, and repetitive.
    I believe that the freedom from this ‘third dimension density’ obsessiveness only occurs when I take my ‘self’ to living in the presence of my ‘fourth dimension spiritual’ reality. It’s only when I rise above and beyond my physical connectedness and my mental connectedness and go to my ‘soul space’ that I can be freed from the pull of the thoughts and feelings which surround ‘instant gratification. I have been successful with breaking my addictive behaviour patterns. I believe that the key is to increase our ‘self love’ and be role models to our children and as parents to provide substitutes which are fulfilling and nurturing for our children: namely ‘love’ and ‘attention’. These two aspects of parenting will be the most successful to offset the dependency on other addictive substances or repetitive behaviour patterns. This parenting also applies to us, as adults, parenting our inner childs and re-assuring our ‘innerchild’ that we are loved, lovable, and worthy of love.

  4. Yes, you wrote an excellent article about dealing with instant gratifcation issues. We need to find a centered content self versus constantly looking for it from the outside world. You put it so interestingly, that we do need to provide other options and coping skills and not just tell our children what not to do….Thank you , it was an eye opening article.

  5. Thank you for your observations. You are absolutely right about instant gratification. With all the technological advances, instant gratification is at everyone’s fingertips. Our society has become so acclimated to the ability of acquiring anything almost instantaneously that waiting for anything has become a burden. This is very dangerous. Kids get instant gratification from video games and adults get instant gratification by always being connected to some sort of communications device. Along with the latest technology, we also need to develop new skills to stay sane.

  6. HEllo my name is david and im planning to write a research paper on exactly this problem with our socitey growing more and more dependent or addicted to instant gratification. However im in the need for some expert sources or literature on this. Do any of u have ideas that could help me out?

    • David, John Bradshaw: ‘championing your inner child’, is excellent source.
      also: Pamela Levin, ‘Toxic Parents’ is useful to understand what we do to our children to shame and blame them into seeking solace in substances like sugar and drugs as they get older.
      lastly, substituting compulsive behaviours in making poor food choices resides in always having cut up celery and carrot sticks in water in fridge, cut up fruit and fresh bananas.
      It takes repetitive good behaviour to undo poorer choices patterns.
      you may with to look up my short treatment on paradigms at entitled: “Making better choices’. it helps you understand how we make choices.

  7. Good article. It is saddening how much of our world revolves around instant gratification. I still deal with this problem to a degree but have figured out some ways to try and battle the problem for myself. Check out this article I wrote about those tips if you get the chance:

    It’s a problem that I think most people in developed countries have to deal with.

  8. Wow… Everyone’s comments are very moving. As a clinician reading this it’s good to see that parents are becoming very aware of what Instant Gratification is and how it’s affecting the lives of young ones.
    It is very possible that Emotional Instant Gratification is a huge player of the why question that every tends to be asking. Emotional Instant Gratification (EIG) is a form of Emotional Blackmail to which you or your child will tell you that your being mean and display a very great deal of Emotional Distress to emphasise that they feel hurt from what they aren’t allowed to have – so unfortunately you are left with this over baring feeling of guilt and giving in without setting boundaries for children and their wants vrs. needs.
    If you put these in place, you will find that the stress of EIG won’t be as bad as what your feeling now.
    Good luck everyone.

  9. This troubling need for instant gratification in children can serve parents, family and educators as a dangerous symptom of the disease of addiction. In fact, May I suggest that Instant gratification is the disease .? My adult daughter destroyed our family because of her need for instant gratification. Just as other observant parents in the blog, we noticed this disturbing ” Need” in our child early on and tried diligently not only to model and seeking addiction counseling, drug testing, but to talk to her about her chosen path could end. I would caution parents when instant gratification is present, the addict will find a way around what you are attempting to correct. In our case, my daughter would lie to everyone to get what she wanted. She has an uncanny ability to draw people to her, as mentioned in the blogs above , that have no boundaries. Her symptoms of the “disease” of Instant Gratification, were the addiction of pathological gambling. A high from which our now “Adult” daughter gets audible highs which rival cocaine addiction. In Her insatiable need to feed the gambling lifestyle, a sociopath has destroyed our entire family. When my parents, her own grandparents , cut her off because of robbing them of their life savings, she covertly poisoned them! Devastated, What is left of the family ,has confronted her trying to bring her to justice in court, but she hides, again behind a gang of ” Adult girls” with no boundaries. We need help in catching her and others like her as we as a society are all risk to these types of sociopaths , that started out as simply as a subtle “Need” in a child to have it all , NOW’ please be careful ..

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