Addiction Treatment & Addiction Therapy Options

Pressure and Expectation

Pressure and Expectation

Both internal and external pressure have a significant impact on a person’s entire addiction. Pressure can impact its development, progression, treatment, and recovery. Pressure can work in both ways, like fear. Sometimes having the right amount of pressure can push people to do the things that they normally would shy away from. Pressure can be a great motivator, but oftentimes internal feelings of pressure and external or social feelings of pressure result in feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. People who do not have the right coping skills, self-esteem or self-awareness, and supportive resources backing them up can easily be swallowed up by feelings of pressure, and in the case of addiction, this tends to be true. Addiction tends to strip people of these traits, if they possessed them in the first place, and leaves people feeling helpless, worthless, and alone. So when either internal or external pressures are high during addiction recovery, it can bring a person to a very vulnerable place if he or she has not yet learned how to cope with and manage these feelings. Thankfully, a quality addiction treatment program will help prepare people for these exact situations.

Pressure to Use Drugs and Alcohol

Before entering a treatment program, individuals may have felt a great deal of pressure to use drugs or alcohol. Maybe the pressure was internal, wanting to please others, needing to escape from painful emotions, having to self-medicate symptoms in order to function, etc. Stress and everyday pressure from work or school, financial pressures, relationship pressures, etc. can amount to too much and lead a person down a road of substance abuse or addiction. On the inside a person may be dealing with serious issues such as loneliness, depression, guilt, poor self-esteem and more, and this can also fuel the desire to cope with substance use.

Furthermore, social pressures have an immense impact on a person’s habits and behaviors. While “peer pressure” can be portrayed as some cheesy, old school teasing, it is still very alive and well, although it may come in a more indirect form than before. While playground bullying and name calling related to the pushing of drug use seems to be a thing of the past, the existence of peer pressure still remains, especially because it is harder to recognize. In today’s society, drinking alcohol and partying with recreational drug use has become a cultural phenomenon. It can feel like drinking is the go-to pairing of most any social activity or event, and occasional social drug use is normal. Humans want to fit in. They want to be socially accepted, rather than rejected, and while not everyone cares about fitting in with the masses, people want to please their friends and social circles. They want to remain comfortable in their own social settings and personal relationships. So when co-workers attend a happy hour, and when friends hang out at the local watering hole, the pressure to join can be immense. For someone struggling with addiction, the idea of saying no can be too difficult to handle. The internal and external pressures to use can carry a heavy weight. [1]

Learning to Cope with Pressure

During addiction recovery, individuals should learn how to cope with both internal and external pressures. They should be given the therapy, counseling, education and skill training needed to build and sustain a life in recovery. Part of the process may require a great deal of changes where people have to avoid certain places and events or cut relationships out of their life in order to refrain from having to cope with too many stressors and relapse triggers. Building the skills and finding the tools to be able to handle and overcome these pressures and temptations is another part of the equation for avoiding relapse.

So on the other end of the spectrum, an addict in recovery can experience both internal and external pressure in the form of meeting expectations. The need to get and stay clean should be the true desire of the addict, but he or she will also want to get clean for others as well. The fear of failure and relapse will undoubtedly loom over anyone who has gone through addiction treatment. In many instances this fear and desire to meet expectations during recovery is a beneficial thing. It keeps people motivated, focused and accountable. The desire to fulfill expectations, achieve goals, and remain successful in recovery are all good things, as long as they remain realistic. In that sense, most health and recovery professionals find it beneficial to share the realities and success rates of recovering addicts with their patients. They feel that being upfront about the possibility of relapse, the amount of time it may take to be comfortable in recovery, and the work a life in recovery is going to require are all things that a person should be aware of right off the bat. When people have a realistic perspective of the situation, they are far less likely to feel unnecessary internal pressure and are going to set themselves up for a more effective approach to recovery.[2]

When realistic expectations are established from the get go, a person is less likely to succumb to overwhelming feelings of pressure to succeed. With heightened expectations a person can feel useless and hopeless when he falls short. They may questions themselves and wonder ‘what’s the point?’ with even minor failures along the way. Truly, meeting expectations should be seen as meeting goals, and in the case of addiction recovery, this means that a person has no one’s “expectations” to meet or achieve other than one’s own.[3]

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[1] How to Deal With Peer Pressure Associated With Drugs. A Forever Retrieved from

[2] Rothmans, Jean. (2009, April 20). Setting Realistic Expectations About Addiction Treatment. Everyday Health. Retrieved from

[3] Bennett, Carole, MA. In the World of Recovery Are Expectations Loaded with Expectations? Family Recovery Solutions: Substance Abuse Counseling. Retrieved from