Avoiding Replacing One Addiction for Another

One of the most challenging things you may face while struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) is moderation. Whether this issue stems from a chemical imbalance, habitual urges, or the need to hyper-fixate is a topic that is still up for debate. What it boils down to is that once you start something, it can become difficult to stop. 

With that said, all hope is not lost. There are things that you can do to identify if you struggle with moderation and ways to prevent it from becoming a problem. Some things may be better and worse for you when it comes to healing SUD, which is important to be aware of as well. 

Noticing the Signs

Addiction is caused by a dysfunction in the brain. Because the neuropathways are already established, it can be easy to notice an addiction transfer from the outside, but can be difficult when it is happening to you. Start by asking yourself some questions, like:

  • How much of my day is spent doing this?
  • Am I missing other obligations because of this?
  • Are the other things I'm doing still related to this?

These questions will help you gain an outside perspective. If a lot of your time and energy is spent on one hobby or activity to the point where you are missing out on things like family get-togethers or showing up late for work, you may have a problem.

You may also find that you manipulate the truth to justify this behavior. You may think that since it is not a substance, you cannot be addicted, or that it is not as bad. The justification of acts like these is just as much a problem as the acts themselves.

Prevention Strategies

Time management is one of the best ways to prevent yourself from creating new addictions. This can be done by scheduling certain days or times where you can do that activity or by setting a time limit. For example, if you are spending too much time gaming, try limiting your playing to certain days and for certain times. Set a timer for 2 hours and when the timer goes off, you are done.

If you find it hard to self-regulate, ask a friend or a family member to hold you accountable. They can set the timer and let you know when it is up. It can be difficult to ask for help, but you can almost guarantee that someone will help you when it is a matter of healing your addiction.

Positive Fixations

Some things can be good to fixate on. Yet, just like everything else in this world, there is a point where too much of a good thing can go bad.

A few examples of these holistic treatments that are positive things to put a lot of your time into include:

There is a point where these things can go wrong. What makes them challenging to overcome is that these are healthy habits to have. Although, the following situations can occur if you over-do these activities:

  • if you work out too much, you can get hurt
  • you can do so much recovery work that you are not living a life outside of it
  • if you overfocus on mental health, you can create anxiety for yourself or disregard your physical health
  • you can spend so much time working at your job that you end up neglecting your family

If you choose any of these activities to fixate on, be cautious and notice the signs of when you are doing too much. 

Negative New Addictions

There are many addictions that can develop once you have quit substances that can be equally unhealthy or damaging. After recovering from an addiction, your brain is still vulnerable to excessively engaging in behaviors that might not seem bad on the surface but, since most people in recovery from SUD struggle with moderation, these things can spiral out of control. Activities like gambling, video gaming, excessive shopping, or new romantic pursuits can quickly develop into addictive behaviors.

It is relatively obvious how the first few items on that list can be damaging. They can be expensive and take away from your relationships much like substance addiction. The last point, however, can be the most damaging, though it may not seem like it.

A lot of material about recovery says you should avoid new romantic relationships when you first get sober, the reason being that it is very easy to make the new relationship a new addiction. This can end in two ways. One, the person rejects how obsessive you have become which can be damaging to your mental health. Two, the person accepts that obsessive behavior and the relationship becomes dangerously co-dependent. 

Distracting Yourself From the Real Problem

All of this talk about creating new addictions after you have quit one boils down to the simple problem of using the new addiction to distract yourself from the real problems you need to face. There is a lot of work to be done mentally once you have kicked an addiction. Practicing moderation is one way to free your mental headspace to allow for the real troubles to surface. This can be difficult but it is necessary for living a sober life.

If you find that you have replaced one addiction with another, it can be hard to stop. You may feel like you are stuck, you have already kicked one addiction but for some reason, you can't kick the new one. There is a lot of shame in admitting you have a problem. It can be hard to find the help you need. Luckily, professionals are here to help you. NorthStar Transitions, located in Boulder, CO, can be the place to find that help. We offer support for those who are having issues with substance abuse whether it is your first time in treatment or if you're recovering from a relapse. If you or someone you know needs treatment, our beautiful facility and expert staff make us the best place for treatment. You can take the first steps by calling us today at (303) 558-6400.

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