The Impact of Primary and Secondary Emotions on Substance Abuse

Many people's decisions to experiment with drug or alcohol usage are heavily influenced by their feelings. Thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are all interconnected. As one changes, the other is impacted, and so on. A person's ideas and actions may become self-destructive when experiencing negative emotions like fear, anger, sadness, or isolation.

Feelings reveal how you're doing on the inside. Put another way, you feel great when something positive happens and terrible when something wrong does. You might think of your emotions as a real-time news feed that keeps you abreast of all the latest developments in your life. One's "primary emotions" are the first reactions to various situations. These powerful feelings emerge suddenly and aren't amenable to rational argument. For instance, getting the news that you’ve won a competition can cause you to feel stunned immediately. It's normal to feel sad after the death of a loved one. As a knee-jerk response to being wronged, anger is possible. 


Secondary emotions develop as a result of experiencing your primary emotions. People often turn to substance misuse to numb themselves from more intense emotions. Let's say you're feeling enraged at someone. Even if anger is your primary emotion right now, you may later come to feel sorry about acting so hastily. Because of the burden of guilt on your shoulders, you could feel compelled to experiment with psychoactive substances to improve your mood momentarily. 


Your emotions shape your thoughts and behaviors. Similarly, your thoughts and actions may influence your emotional state. Take the hypothetical case of Paul misplacing a prized timepiece. It might lead him to feel downright depressed right away. He could start thinking, "Wow, I am reckless," as a result. He may even use the phrase "I am stupid" to express his thoughts. For him, this understanding only enhances his already profound sense of loss and sadness, which have led to his excessive drinking. Then, when the liquor is gone, or he starts to feel ill, he regrets his drinking. The narrative shows how your feelings, behaviors, and thoughts are interconnected. 


A vicious emotional cycle may be set in motion by engaging in self-destructive behaviors like substance abuse or harsh self-criticism. The cycle may be broken with the help of healthy activities and positive thoughts. Paul might have comforted himself by telling himself, "Mistakes happen; nobody's perfect,” if he had been upset over losing his watch. If he had just let it go and moved on with his day, he would not have felt so bad. Instead of sitting around, he might have called up a reliable buddy or taken a stroll. He might have put his enthusiasm to better use and maintained his excellent mood by engaging in activities other than drinking. 


When dealing with intense emotions, there are various options than giving in to destructive desires. During the holidays or any other time of the year, someone in recovery or on the path to recovery may make decisions that support rather than undermine their sobriety and emotional regulation efforts. For this reason, it's essential to pay attention to your emotions. Since they occur so soon after the triggering event, many people cannot fully control their initial emotions. However, it is up to us to choose how we will respond when faced with unpleasant feelings. 


A top dual diagnosis treatment center, such as Wish Recovery, can provide information on alcohol and drug addiction therapy options and advice on how to manage your emotions and alter your behavior.

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