For those who are in recovery from drug & alcohol addiction, the very act of overcoming their addiction is a watershed moment in their life. The physical and emotional struggle involved with detoxification and treatment as well as the act of sustaining recovery in daily life is empowering. However, as is often heard around the tables of 12 Step groups, addiction is “cunning, baffling, and powerful”. This can often be seen when recovering addicts engage in a phenomena of switching addictions.
A Working Definition
Switching addictions—otherwise known as substitute addictions—occurs when someone switches or substitutes one form of addiction for another. The underlying root problem in switching addictions is not the substance or activity in itself, but the behavior. For example, those who complete substance abuse treatment may find that smoking cigarettes is a way to cope with the stress of everyday living and dealing with temptations and triggers. For others, it may be a focus on exercise, eating, or work and for others it may be on new hobbies or pastimes.
Even if the focus is on something that is non-threatening there can be a fine line between healthy focus and obsession. Again, it gets back to the actual behaviors—substituting one activity or substance for another show that compulsive activity is still occurring. Engaging in those kinds of behaviors will tend to have negative consequences in some shape or form down the road.
Common Substitute Addictions
Some of the most common substitute addictions experienced by those in recovery can include the following:
- Prescription painkillers
- Developing a co-dependent relationship
- Sex Addiction
- Food Addiction & Eating Disorders
- Being a workaholic
- Cell Phone & Social Media Addiction
- Caffeine Addiction
- Obsession with exercise and fitness
Recognizing and Treating Substitute Addictions
In many cases, switching addictions can be just as serious as the original addiction. As stated earlier in the article the most important thing is to identify the root compulsive behaviors, addressing how they are impacting the lives of those who engage in them and using the appropriate counseling and therapy options to correct them. Two common therapy options used include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy.
In addition to counseling and therapy, those in recovery need to find ways to achieve balance and understand the importance of awareness when behaviors and thoughts may become obsessive. The following are some tips for those in recovery to achieve balance:
- Coming up with a daily plan—learning to balance work, play and life requires tracking through a calendar or daily planner. Ideally, you should schedule adequate time between work and play and also have built-in “me time” that will allow you to recharge and refocus.
- Being proactive—putting off obligations creates stagnation and stagnation can give rise to compulsive and obsessive thoughts. For those actions that don’t seem to work, take time to analyze where they went wrong and don’t simply leave them be.
- “Turn off and Drop Out”—for a designated time daily, turn off your computer, Facebook, Twitter and other devices and social media.
- Sleep—having a consistent sleep schedule and allowing 7-8 hours of restful sleep nightly helps maximize brain functioning.
If you find yourself suffering from a substitute addiction The Palm Beach Institute can help. Call us today at 1-855-470-2050 and talk to an Addiction Specialist who can discuss different treatment options with you. Avoid relapse before it happens, call us today.