How to Avoid Substituting Your Addiction
A substitute addiction is a substance, activity or behavior that replaces a previous addiction. Acquiring a substitute addiction is not uncommon for those in recovery from drug or alcohol dependence. Being an addict takes up the biggest portion of your life.
When you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you obsess over getting more, you earn money just so you can buy more, you try to hide your habit, and you fight with loved ones about it. In other words, addiction takes over your life. When it is gone, it may feel like you have a void in your life that needs filling. It is possible to fill that hole with positive activities and healthy relationships, but if you’re not careful, you may just slip into another addiction.
Are Substitute Addictions Always Bad?
For some addicts in recovery, a substitute addiction may start out as a healthy new activity. Maybe you have taken up an exercise regimen, or you have started going to church again. Perhaps you are ready to devote yourself to your job and to getting a promotion. None of these are bad ideas, but they can become unhealthy obsessions and even approach the level of a behavioral addiction if you do not monitor your behaviors.
Not all addicts will develop these substitute addictions, but it is possible. There are underlying reasons you became an addict in the first place. These reasons may cause you to take up a new obsession when the first one has gone away. It is important that you find new ways to expend your energy after getting sober, but be aware of the possibility of a substitute addiction and remember that moderation is key.
How Can You Recognize A Substitute Addiction?
Because many of these substitute addictions start out as a healthy and positive new activity, it can be tough to tell when you are approaching a level of unhealthy obsession. If you became clean from prescription drugs, and then turn to drinking alcohol, the presence of a substitute addiction is obvious. Becoming obsessed with exercise or work is less so.
Listen to your loved ones and your support network. If people who care about you are telling you that you are becoming obsessed with your new hobby, you should listen. It is often easier to recognize a substitute addiction in someone else than it is to see it in yourself.
Be aware of your feelings and your motivations. If you went through a good rehab program, you learned to be aware of why you became an addict and how addiction changed your emotions and moods. If you notice similar feelings and motivations in your new hobbies or activities, it’s time to rethink what you’re doing.
How To Strike A Balance In Sobriety
Just because substitute addictions are a possibility in your new, sober life does not mean that you should not get involved in new activities. To avoid obsessing or developing a replacement for your addiction, learn to be more balanced. Instead of getting heavily involved in one activity, try several. Spread yourself out and try a lot of new things. You can always whittle your new activities down to two or three, but don’t allow all of your time to be taken up by just one.
Make sure your new activities don’t get in the way of the responsibilities you have. Make sure you keep time set aside for your relationships, your chores, and anything else you need to do. Let your loved ones help you through this process. With their support you can learn to be balanced and healthy while staying free of any kind of addiction.