Addiction is a problem that represents more than just a habit that needs to be broken; it is a deeper psychological issue that is difficult to escape. People with addictions may be successful in becoming abstinent from their main substance abuse problem, only to begin another addictive habit that grows to be destructive as well.
It is common for people to transfer their compulsive behaviors to something else without even realizing that they are doing so. Substitute addictions can come in many forms and when they begin to interfere with recovery or cause another set of problems those secondary addictions must be addressed in addition to the primary one.
Being conscious of substitute addictions and making an effort to avoid them can help make recovery go more smoothly and prevent any potentially issues with relapse.
Replacing an Addiction with a New Obsession
Sometimes substitute addictions can be benign or even positive as long as they do not interfere with your emotional life or relationships. People can substitute their drug addictions with more healthy habits like exercise, artistic hobbies or simply doing work that they love.
However, many substitute addictions become another compulsive behavior that is not healthy or conducive to recovery. An alcoholic might begin to smoke more cigarettes or marijuana instead or an addict might begin binge eating after quitting drugs.
Even compulsive behaviors like drinking too much caffeine or watching television can become detrimental to your physical and emotional health. The goal of overcoming an addiction is eliminating compulsive and addictive behavior from all aspects of your life especially when it is likely to cause more problems for you in recovery.
This can be one of the hardest things for people to overcome in recovery because they must learn to cope with their own addictive personality.
Managing Compulsive Behavior
It is important to be aware and try to recognize substitute addictions before they become out of hand. Listen to family and friends if they begin to be concerned about certain behaviors that are starting to become compulsive. If people are seeing your addictive behaviors return then try not to be offended and acknowledge that you may be creating a substitute for your addiction.
Try to recognize any feelings that seem similar to ones you had when you were deep into your previous addiction like thinking about it constantly, being obsessive or struggling to get through even a day without it. If you feel you might be developing a secondary addiction then try to take a step back from it or make an effort to quit that behavior as well.
The thing that matters most for addicts is to find a balance of enjoying new activities that keep your mind off of your main addiction but also maintaining perspective. It can be a good idea to limit the amount of time you do an activity or engage in a variety of different activities so you are less likely to obsess over just one.
It can take plenty of effort to avoid substitute addictions or stop them before they get out of hand but knowing more about the subject can make the process easier. Understanding substitute addictions and working hard in recovery to create a more balanced life can prevent compulsive behavior from being a recurring problem that interferes with your life.
Addiction recovery overall means making major lifestyle changes that prevent behavior that is unhealthy and damaging to your well-being. Doing your best to avoid any compulsions can be challenging but changing some of your most ingrained behaviors will make it easier to remain sober in the long run.