Dealing with Addiction During Hard Times

Avatar Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: October 5, 2018
Dealing with Addiction During Hard Times

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Addiction is something that is everywhere. It doesn’t care how much money you have, how successful someone is, how smart you are, etc.

An important thing  to remember about addiction is that it is not just drugs and alcohol that people get addicted to. This article is meant to cover a variety of addictions. Here are some of the common addictions that people have that will have to be dealt with during a SHTF situation.



Prescription Pills

Street Drugs



Video Games



Cigarettes and Tobacco

Alternative Nicotine AKA Vaping

Texting/Talking On The Phone

I hear a lot of people in prepping groups say they will basically kick people to the curb if times get tough and they are addicts. That is a lot easier said then done. Also, people always seem to be talking about alcohol and drugs when they make this statement.

Would you really be able to kick your child, spouse, partner, etc, to the curb due to an addiction? For a lot of people, the answer is simply no. When the addiction in question is something like soda, phone, or internet, chances are you are going to want to help them even if you would kick someone to the curb for drugs or alcohol.

It is easy to talk tough about what you would do but when it is someone you love and care about it can be a bit different than turning away a stranger that wants to join up with you during SHTF.

Tough times can change attitudes

Even the nicest people can change fast when supplies become limited and danger seems close at hand. A question that comes up a lot in prepper groups is if you had to choose between these three people to join your group, who would you pick?

While you may try to help people now, there may come a point when having an addiction that affects your daily life could mean you cannot get any help during SHTF. If you have a vice that is out of control, I advise dealing with it now while you can get better support and you are not competing for resources on a more extreme level.

Don’t think that someone in your family or social network would never turn you away. Everyone has a breaking point when it comes to certain behaviors. I cut all ties and communications with my own Mother 16 years ago so I know that you can leave those closest to their own devices if they are a negative force in your life.

Some addictions are easier to kick than others, but that doesn’t mean that any addiction is not hard to kick.

One key aspect to remember about any addiction is that it is being used in an attempt to fill a void or something lacking in someone’s life.

Chemical Dependency Versus Psychological Addiction

This is a very important distinction that must be made when dealing with addiction. Psychological addiction is when it is just the mind convinced that a vice is needed.

Chemical or physical addiction means the body actually experiences withdrawal pains and physical cravings. The symptoms and pain can be horrific. Anyone that has seen first-hand someone actually go through withdrawal from opiates no matter if they are on pills or heroin, can tell you some terrible stories. I have not seen this myself but I have talked to those that have.

Detoxing can take weeks of flu-like symptoms and the weight loss, nausea, shakes, chills, and extreme fatigue. Someone going through severe withdrawal may not be physically capable of doing anything at all. Trying to get them to do more before they are ready is futile and will just make things harder.

Addictions can be both physical and psychological in nature but keeping someone busy and there mind off the fact that they cannot play their favorite video game is far different than someone that cannot get their fix of pills.


I am online more than I should be. At least part of this is the nature of the job of being a writer. Also, I live on a mountain outside of town and up a rough road so I am not always the most social person. It is easy to spend too much time browsing and reading things that are not really relevant. There are a lot of reasons why people get addicted to the internet.

People out there are lonely and unhappy and looking at others lives and feeling bad about their own life or they are envious and become bitter instead of creating a plan to get where they want to be. We see all the flash and material items and think that more stuff will make us happy when the truth is that there are plenty of unhappy people that have a ton of stuff.

People also want to be loved and impress others. The reassurance and positive reinforcement of strangers can help make up for something lacking in their life, but the fact is that most friends out there in the cyber world are not real friends and they cannot replace those around you.

I value those that read my posts and I may be friends with them on Facebook but I don’t think most would consider me a true friend nor I them because we do not know each other beyond a few passing comments or interactions. True friendships require a larger investment than that.

If anything, Facebook and social media have taught me that there are a lot of people out there that are wasting their time trying to talk to random people instead of chasing their dreams the best they can.

Video game or television addiction/ texting etc in kids and teens

I don’t have kids myself but I used to babysit a lot when younger and I try to pay attention now, and one thing I have to say is that electronics are now used as the real babysitter. I know that parents are busy and that the world is stressful, but I see a lot of parents that are staring into their phones while their kids run around and jump off chairs in waiting rooms or stare into their own phones.

What if everyone put them down and did something together? I think the first thing adults need to do is lead by example. I could write a whole post on just what you can do with kids and teens. If you can’t stay off your phone through a meal, then you have a problem too, and it is going to be hard to convince younger members of your family to think it is bad when they do something and not when you do it.

Yes I know kids don’t get the big say in what goes on, but they are going to compare themselves to you regardless if you think you are entitled to do what you want because you are an adult.

If you are too busy to spend time with your kids or help them find things to do that makes them want to live more in the real world and less in the virtual one, then try to think about how you can change that. I am not trying to make anyone feel horrible, but sometimes we all need to check ourselves and see what we can do to make ourselves better people and do better for those we love.

A recent BDS post “Why Preppers Should Take Technology Vacations” may be a helpful read for those that are having a hard time breaking away from the screen.

Caffeine and Soda

Wow, this is one that I am glad to not have to deal with in my house during any emergency. Soda and the high fructose corn syrup that does in it are extremely addictive, and they are a leading cause of obesity. Sorry, but if you drink 6 sodas, a say ( working in offices years ago my husband saw people drink 12 a day!) means you are consuming about 750 extra calories. Considering that most people should only consume 1500-2000 a day, that is a lot of hollow calories that can lead to weight gain and the resulting health problems including diabetes.

There are physical and psychological aspects to soda addiction.  I advise substitutions if possible. Canned fruit juices mixed with water can help. This is one that you would do well to start getting your family weaned off of soon. I like Seltzer water that is flavored. I did a post a while back about making your own.  What you make at home can be naturally sweetened or not. HFCS is worse than sugar because of how it acts on the pancreas.

Sexual addiction

This is something hidden a lot because let’s face it the internet provides an outlet for people but if that is gone then what then?  This is a very sensitive subject so I am just going to say that if you or someone you love has this problem, there are support groups and people that can help.

Be patient

Getting over addiction takes time. Some say that there are addictions that you can learn to deal with but once an addict you always are one. Regardless of how you put it, kicking any habit and keeping it kicked is not easy.

Gentle is best

Addicts don’t want to feel like they are just being ganged up on. A gentle approach is best when confronting someone with a problem. One or two people talking to someone is better than the entire family or group. Don’t just start out blaming them for everything and never conduct an intervention style talk when you are very angry or upset. Think about what you say. I cannot tell you the exact thing to say because everyone is different. Use your knowledge of the person and try to make a good decision about the points you need to make.

The sad truth is that someone has to want to change at least a little bit. There are some that really don’t want too.

One of the toughest things about being on the other side of addiction is when someone will not change their ways. For some vices, this may have less impact in the long term, but in the case of others, it can be a life-changing realization. You have to choose the role you want to play in the future.

I have cut a lot of people out of my life for being toxic in one way or another, and even if it is for the best, it sure hurts to do it.  At some point, you have to ask yourself what you are willing to put up with and sacrifice to keep someone in your life. There is no one size fits all answer and looking for one is a very painful journey that may not have the ending you imagined.

Links to Support Group Networks

I advise checking with your local health department or doing an online search for support groups in your area for whatever addiction you are facing.  I do want to share a few links to some of the well known supoort networks out there.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous

If you are unable to get to a support group or meeting for your addiction, there are plenty of online groups and discussions going on. Just do a search and you will find a lot of people out there that are supporting one another through the trials of addiction.

What tips do you have for overcoming addiction? What is your plan if someone you care about comes to you for help during an emergency and you know they have a problem?

Samantha Biggers can be reached at


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6 Responses to “Dealing with Addiction During Hard Times”

  1. I agree with Ben, having dealt with both drug and alcohol addicts in my own family. And when the illegal drugs are no longer available, you’ll have to deal with their torment as they physically detox. And then their lifetime urge to return to addictive behavior. No thank you.

    As for other addicts (like those addicted to soda, TV, porn), they’ll get used to being without their vice and be just fine. In fact, plenty of us are addicted to things like sugar, junk food, i-phones and are able to be law-abiding, productive citizens, that live by solid values and morals. So I do think it’s fair to have a distinction between the two in a crisis situation.

  2. I work in an environment that deals with substance abuse; primarily alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, meth, heroin and synthetic opioids. Even with detox protocols and medications, patients (and everyone around them) have a rough time. It literally takes a life long commitment and a support system for people to get free of drugs and stay that way.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “hard times,” but as a prepper, I am absolutely determined to keep active addicts as far away from my family and myself during any SHTF survival scenario. The reason is they will look you straight in the eye and lie to you. Anything you have will be viewed by them as a bartering resource for more drugs. The drugs will still be available and they will know where to get them. Nothing that you have will be safe.

  3. Drug addicts are eradicated before anything happens because that’s no way to live. Tobacco I don’t use but have considered trying to grow it as barter. Caffeine well that can be a tough one. Every deer season I get to unplug and get away from the constant communication. It’s tough the first 2 days then I start loving it.

  4. I smoke and drink a lot of coffee – black. But I’ve been a prepper for all of my life. And yes, I’m old… Growing up on a farm with no freezer meant that we canned everything. And I’ve continued throughout my life. Even when my kids were young, we would order 6 months of food at a time. So I prepare for my addictions the same way. I roll my own smokes with organic tobacco. I even grow my own. I have leaves drying right now. About 6 years ago I decided to get an elec rolling machine, shredder, tobacco and tubes. It was expensive, but in the end, waaaay cheaper. And if I’m going to smoke, way better for me if there is such a thing. At least I know what’s in my smokes. So right now I have at least 8 months worth of tobacco. And I do the same with my coffee. I try to make sure I have at least 6 months worth for whatever happens. If it all blows up and lasts longer than 6 months, why bother????

  5. best to get off all things addictive before times get hard. It can be done and it will be a lot harder to do once the SHTF.

  6. What a great post, Samantha! Something no one wants to really talk about but we all need to be realistic about. Different addictions require different approaches. I am way too reliant on internet and social media, and own up to it. But I am also good with weekends camping and away from it. I drink and smoke too much, and I can easily give up the alcohol, but the tobacco not so much. I don’t do drugs, legal or otherwise, so not an issue for myself. But I have close family who are addicts, and have had to distance myself from them. Having tried to help them now, when help is available, to no avail, I am not sure I would be able to welcome them in a SHTF situation.
    I hope more folks read this article and comment in the same non-judgemental way you presented this.

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