A common trait for people who are addicted to alcohol and other drugs is that they’re seeking instant gratification or relief from something. Clinically, it is also referred to as delay discounting, and people who exhibit this characteristic are seeking the immediate perceived reward regardless of future consequences. It is a very impulsive behavior and generally considered negative in this regard.
However, people who live in the moment, “in the now”, can have much more positive effects when repurposed. A recent study appearing in the journal Clinical Psychological Science has shown that these same people seem to respond better to treatment.
Professer Warren Bickel of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute was the lead author of the study and he is also the director of the Addiction Recovery Research Center. “I realized that the people who discounted the future the most — the ones we least expected to be able to recover from addiction — also showed the best outcomes when they received an effective treatment. And the ones who discounted the future the least improved the least,” Bickel said in a release.
One possible reason for this may be due to people who are trying to get better, but are too worried about the future, tend to forsake their current situation or accomplishments. Too much future worry can cause more anxiety and even stoke insecurities, which may lead some back to their substance abuse for relief.
On the other hand, people who are satisfied with their decision to quit and the results they’re obtaining aren’t as worried about whether or not they can maintain their new-found state. Their previous instant gratification converts into gratitude, which is an inclusive feeling rather that a selfish, exclusive one. Focusing on one’s success and happiness in the moment tends to perpetuate the results.