Addiction is often believed to be connected to particular substance or behavior. It is not uncommon to find that many people assume that when you receive treatment for one addiction, the potential for all addictions down the road has also been addressed. However, in reality, many who have overcome addiction find themselves grappling with other forms of addiction. These addictions can range in severity and come with their own set of unique consequences.

Substitute Addictions

Addiction causes the brain to rewire itself and function differently. No matter the consequences of use, the brain will crave the substance it is addicted to and create a sensation of happiness and excitement whenever the substance is used. Changing the way the brain functions is a long process and many end up replacing their addictions with something else. Even if these new addictions do not fulfill the brain in the same way, they still provide some level of satisfaction in the mind that can reduce some symptoms of withdrawal. Some of the most common replacement addictions include:

  • Gambling
  • Binge eating
  • Nicotine
  • Sex
  • Pornography
  • Shopping
  • Overworking
  • Exercising

Dangers of Substitute Addictions

Not all addictions require a person to use a dangerous substance. Some addictions are activities many regularly engage in without consequence. While on the surface they may appear harmless, they can produce dangerous consequences. They can cause a person to:

  • Have trouble at school or work
  • Experience difficulty in relationships
  • Neglect their hygiene
  • Lose sleep
  • Constantly think about the activity
  • Experience anxiety or stress when they are unable to engage in the activity
  • Struggle with feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts

Balance in Recovery: Cultivating Healthy Habits

Suddenly ceasing addictive behaviors is not easy. Addiction requires a person to give up multiple aspects of their life in order to protect their sobriety. Friendships, activities, and environments that enabled substance abuse must all end, but that leaves a person with a void that must be filled. Rather than replacing one addiction with another, it is important to find healthy habits that improve the recovery process. Healthy alternatives include:

  1. Exercising: Exercise is a critical part of the recovery journey. It serves as an excellent outlet for stress, improves overall physical health, and provides mental and emotional benefits as well. Finding exercise that is fun and engaging is key to maintaining this habit. Try a variety of activities to find the exercises that best suit you. Yoga, swimming, running, and sports are just some of the many options you can explore.
  2. Writing: Regularly writing is great for mental and emotional health. It provides a safe outlet to express your innermost feelings and process difficult emotions. It also provides you with space to reflect and process experiences. Writing every day can be a cathartic experience that helps you cope with emotions in a healthy way while simultaneously providing you with a place to consider the possibilities. It is also a great way to remember the good things that happen as well, which allows you to keep a realistic perspective throughout your journey.
  3. Volunteering: Helping others is a great way to give back to others and feel good about what you are doing. Volunteering gives you the ability to connect with others, provide a service to your community, and is a great use of the time you regain from no longer using substances. Finding something you are passionate about is a constructive way to boost your mood and develop positive relationships with others who share similar interests.
  4. Socializing: Spending time alone and becoming isolated can threaten sobriety. Joining a support group, engaging in group activities, or spending time with loved ones can help you manage your time effectively. Rather than spending time alone and allowing negative thoughts to fester, engaging with others can help you feel connected and engrossed with your recovery. Sharing and supporting with others can provide a positive outlet and help you manage difficult situations more effectively.

Cultivating Balance

Self-care is an important component of recovery. It can be easy to swing between extremes throughout recovery, but finding a way to balance multiple aspects of life is critical to long-term success. It can be tempting to rush and try to change too much at once, but that is often ineffective. Instead, finding balance is a process that develops over time. Life will never be perfect and everything will never be wholly balanced. Find ways to work towards that balance and enjoy it when it is obtained. Some ways you can create balance for yourself include:

  • Breaking up large tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces
  • Creating a daily or weekly schedule to prevent feeling overwhelmed
  • Ensure you take care of your health through physical activity and doctor visits
  • Be honest with yourself and with those around you if you are feeling stressed or unhappy
  • Develop a budget to alleviate financial stress and prepare for the future
  • Ask for help whenever you need it

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.


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