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Navigation: Addiction vs. True Happiness, Addiction: A Temporary Fix, True Happiness: A State of Being, The Problem with Confusing the Two, The Consequences of Addiction, Drug Addiction Treatment, Conclusion

We all strive for happiness in our lives, but sometimes we confuse it with addictive pleasure. We may think that indulging in our vices or constantly seeking external validation will bring us true joy, but in reality, these things only provide temporary satisfaction.

It is therefore important to discuss the difference between addiction and true happiness. The truth is that happiness is an important universal human feeling. But there is also a scientific basis for it, and it is not the same as pleasure. [1]

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between addiction and true happiness and why it’s important to understand the distinction.

Addiction vs. True Happiness

Happiness and pleasure are feelings we all experience, but they are still rooted in science. This science is sourced in the fields of medicine, psychology, and neuroscience. Experts believe that many people tend to confuse happiness with pleasure. [1]

But what exactly makes them different from one another? Let’s take a closer look.

Addiction: A Temporary Fix

Addiction is defined as a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance, characterized by tolerance and well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal. This can include substances such as drugs and alcohol, but it can also refer to behaviors such as gambling, shopping, or constantly seeking validation from others. Here we are focusing on substance use disorder (SUD).

Addictive pleasure often involves instant gratification derived from substances, behaviors, or experiences that trigger the brain’s reward system. This pleasure is short-lived and often accompanied by a compulsive desire for more.

An addicted person will keep taking a certain substance even when they are already suffering from its consequences. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a moral failing or a sign of weakness, but rather a chronic and relapsing medical condition that changes the way your brain works.

Addictive pleasure is often a temporary fix for deeper issues or emotions that we may be avoiding. It provides a quick rush of dopamine. These are the “feel-good” chemical in our brains. Unfortunately, it doesn’t address the root cause of our unhappiness.

This is why addictive behaviors often become a cycle. People continue to abuse drugs to pursue that temporary high and escape from their problems. Addictive pleasure and true happiness differ in their essence and long-term effects on a person’s well-being.

The pursuit of addictive pleasures can mask underlying issues and may not contribute to long-lasting contentment or fulfillment.

True Happiness: A State of Being

On the other hand, true happiness is a state of being that is not dependent on external factors. It is a deep sense of contentment and fulfillment that comes from within.

True happiness is not fleeting, and it doesn’t require constant stimulation or validation. It is a lasting feeling of joy and peace that comes from living in alignment with our values and purpose.

True happiness is therefore a more enduring state of well-being and contentment. People who are truly happy tend to have a sense of purpose. They have a feeling of satisfaction with their lives.

Unlike addictive pleasure, genuine happiness is not reliant on external stimuli or fleeting experiences. Instead, it arises from meaningful connections, personal growth, contributing to others’ well-being, pursuing passions, and having a sense of fulfillment and purpose.

The Problem with Confusing the Two

Experts say there are several key differences between happiness and pleasure:

Happiness is long-lived while pleasure is short-lived. Happiness is all about giving, while pleasure is about taking. Pleasure can be achieved with substances, while the same can’t be said for happiness. Scientifically speaking, happiness is tied to serotonin while pleasure is tied to dopamine. [1]

So while it is possible to get addicted to pleasurable substances, there is not such thing as being addicted to happiness.

It is important to make this distinction because one can lead to several consequences down the line. One of the main issues with confusing addictive pleasure with true happiness is that it gives us a false sense of control.

We may think that we have control over our happiness by indulging in our vices or seeking validation from others, but in reality, we are giving our power away to external factors. This can lead to a constant cycle of seeking validation and never truly feeling satisfied.

Addictive pleasure and true happiness might seem similar on the surface, but they stem from different sources and have distinct impacts on our well-being.

Addictive pleasures only provide short-term gratification. They create a temporary high that fades quickly, leading to a cycle of seeking that same pleasure repeatedly. True happiness, on the other hand, involves a deeper sense of contentment and fulfillment that endures despite life’s ups and downs.

Pleasure offers fleeting moments of excitement that diminish quickly, leaving us chasing after that feeling again. True happiness creates a lasting impact, influencing our overall mood, outlook on life, and resilience during challenging times.

Addictive substances cause pleasure that creates dependency. When we become addicted to something, whether it’s a substance or something else, we lose control and can feel compelled to keep indulging. True happiness fosters autonomy, allowing us to feel free and in control of our emotions and actions.

Another significant distinction is that addictive pleasures are usually external stimuli. Happiness is more about your mindset: your relationships, sense of purpose, and life satisfaction.

In summary, confusing addictive pleasure with true happiness can lead to a pursuit of short-term thrills at the expense of long-term well-being. Recognizing the differences between the two can guide us towards making choices that nurture genuine happiness and fulfillment in our lives.

The Consequences of Addiction

It goes without saying that addictive pleasures can eventually lead to consequences. They might harm your health, relationships, finances, or well-being in the long run, unlike true happiness that only improves various aspects of our lives.

Drug addiction can have severe and far-reaching consequences, affecting individuals, families, and communities. The impact of drug addiction is multifaceted and can manifest in various aspects of a person’s life.

For starters, substance abuse can lead to a range of health problems, including cardiovascular issues, respiratory problems, liver damage, and an increased risk of infectious diseases. Stopping drug use after a certain period of prolonged intake can result in withdrawal symptoms, which can be physically and psychologically distressing.

Many drugs can also have profound effects on mental health, contributing to anxiety, depression, paranoia, hallucinations, and other psychiatric disorders. In fact, it is common for mental health problems and drug addiction to co-occur. In this case, dual diagnosis treatment is necessary to address both problems simultaneously.

Mental health and substance abuse have a complex relationship wherein they can often cause or exacerbate one another. Some people use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate and alleviate their mental health symptoms. In other cases, people who abuse drugs and alcohol develop mental illnesses in the process. [2]

Prolonged drug use can negatively impact memory, attention, and other cognitive functions, hindering the ability to learn and make sound decisions.

However, there are plenty of other consequences caused by addiction, including social and financial consequences.

Drug addiction can strain relationships with family and friends, leading to conflicts, misunderstandings, and breakdowns in communication. Some individuals with substance abuse issues may withdraw from social activities, leading to isolation and a lack of support from their social networks.

Chasing pleasurable highs through substance abuse can impair job performance and attendance, potentially leading to job loss and financial instability. Involvement with illegal drugs can also result in legal consequences, including arrests, fines, and imprisonment.

Drug addiction can interfere with academic performance, leading to a decline in grades and educational attainment. It may even limit employment opportunities and career advancement.

There’s also the increased risk of accidents and injuries due to impaired judgment. Using illicit drugs or misusing prescription drugs can make driving a car unsafe. It’s the same thing as driving under the influence of alcohol. Drunk and drugged driving puts everyone on the road at risk of a fatal accident. [2]

Continued drug use can lead to physical dependence, where the body requires the substance to function normally.

In some cases, drug addiction can lead to overdose, which can be fatal. The risk of overdose is particularly high when individuals misuse substances or take higher doses than their bodies can handle.

Addressing drug addiction often requires a comprehensive approach that includes medical treatment, counseling, support from loved ones, and community resources. Prevention and education are also crucial in mitigating the impact of drug addiction on individuals and society as a whole.

Addiction can have serious consequences on our physical and mental health, as well as our relationships and overall well-being. It can also lead to financial problems and legal issues. When we prioritize addictive pleasure over true happiness, we are putting ourselves at risk for these negative consequences.

Drug Addiction Treatment

Drug addiction treatment involves a combination of medical, psychological, and behavioral interventions aimed at helping patients overcome their dependence on drugs and regain control of their lives. The approach to treatment can vary based on the specific substance being abused, the person’s unique circumstances, and the severity of their addiction.

Here are some common components and approaches used in drug addiction treatment:

Detoxification: This is the first step in the process, focusing on safely removing the drug from the body. It can involve medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe depending on the substance.

Behavioral Therapies: These therapies help patients modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, contingency management, and group therapy are some examples. They aim to identify triggers for drug use and develop coping strategies to avoid relapse.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Certain medications can be prescribed to help ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. For example, methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are commonly used in treating opioid addiction.

Support Groups: Participation in support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can provide peer support, accountability, and a sense of community during recovery.

Individual Counseling: One-on-one counseling sessions with a therapist or counselor can help address underlying issues contributing to addiction and provide personalized support.

Inpatient or Outpatient Programs: Depending on the severity of the addiction, addicted individuals might undergo treatment in residential facilities (inpatient) or attend treatment sessions while living at home (outpatient).

Aftercare and Follow-Up: Continued support after initial treatment is crucial. Follow-up care, ongoing therapy, support groups, and strategies to prevent relapse are essential for maintaining sobriety.

Successful addiction treatment often involves a combination of these approaches tailored to meet the patient’s individual needs. It’s essential to address both the physical dependence on the substance and the psychological aspects of addiction to achieve long-term recovery.

Remember, addiction is a complex and chronic condition that might require long-term management and ongoing support to prevent relapse and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.


In conclusion, addictive pleasure and true happiness are not the same thing. While addictive behaviors may provide temporary satisfaction, they do not address the root cause of our unhappiness and can have negative consequences.

True happiness, on the other hand, is a state of being that comes from within and is not dependent on external factors. By cultivating self-awareness, practicing mindfulness, and building healthy habits, we can find true happiness and live a more fulfilling life. It’s important to recognize the distinction between addiction and true happiness and not let societal pressures prevent us from embracing our individuality and finding our own path to true joy.

Look for a rehab near you today if you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder. The road to recovery—and true happiness—begins today.






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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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