Man considering the link between perfectionism and addiction

Perfectionism and Addiction

What is perfectionism? Perfectionism is a refusal or inability to accept anything less than perfect, depending on who you ask. It is the attitude of expecting an impossible standard from everyone, including oneself. Maintaining this standard is aggravating and stressful, and correlates highly with mental health disorders like anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Unfortunately, any group of people that is more easily predisposed to stress is more likely to participate in drug abuse.

Drug addiction is a common byproduct of stress considering many commonly abused drugs have a sedative, relaxing effect. As a result, it’s typical to see those high-stress environments turn to drug abuse to ease their nerves. It’s no surprise that those whose perfectionist mindset has placed them in high-stress environments are even more likely to abuse drugs. Perfectionists are less likely than most people to turn to others for help, which can make addiction treatment more difficult. The truth is that reaching out for help is often the most vital thing one can do. The Right Step Houston encourages those who acknowledge their perfectionist standard and struggle with addiction to talk to us at 1.844.768.0169

What Are the Risks of Perfectionism?

There are risks of perfectionism that don’t involve addiction and more that do. When applying the mindset that “only the best is good enough” to social interactions, achievements with friends, or satisfaction with a partner, it becomes clear how expecting the most of someone may seem well-intentioned and maybe even supportive. However, situations like this end up being essentially the opposite.

Those with a perfectionist attitude can negatively affect recovery, both in how they may be less likely to seek outside help and that they are also less receptive or willing to take on complex tasks from others. Perfectionists see things in extremes. Either something is top-of-the-line or bottom-of-the-barrel. Oscillating between these peaks and troughs perfectly complements drug use, where abusers cycle through unparalleled euphoria and sinking despair.

The Common Relationship Between Perfectionism and Addiction

Perfectionism is a classic case of “too much of a good thing.” High standards for yourself and others can be a tremendous driving force for achieving higher goals, self-improvement, and ensuring your closest friends don’t make poor choices. Perfectionists are also often characterized as feeling superior to their peers, which is not always the case. Many regard themselves relatively lowly, and rather than expressing discontent for others’ shortcomings, some perfectionists set themselves to the highest standard, only to be devastated when they inevitably fall short.

Drug addiction is similar in that it’s also too much—the “of a good thing” part of the term is debatable. However, what’s undoubtedly true is that the sensation many drugs induce does feel like a good thing at the time. It’s worth remembering, though, that the opposite is true. Hallmarks of the human experience include being:

  • Ecstatic 
  • Relaxed
  • Sociable

But, similar to perfectionism, using drugs to reach these high points has consequences. Both perfectionists and people who struggle with addiction tend to suffer from a propensity to think negatively of themselves or others.

Address Addiction with The Right Step Houston

Perfectionism is not a bad thing on its own, nor something that evidence-based treatment can cure. It’s an approach to life that might stem from an underlying problem, whether a psychological condition or a profoundly negative outlook on life. These two causes also branch out into substance abuse and addiction. Perfectionism and addiction are deeply intertwined, and addressing one will likely mean addressing the other.

At The Right Step Houston, we treat addiction in a way that helps our patients and practitioner learn what’s causing these outward issues and what measures can be taken to manage them—medications, behavioral changes, or a combination of both. We’ve treated many people in your situation, so don’t wait any longer. Call 1.844.768.0169 to start your path to substance abuse recovery today.

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