Whatever substances were our choice, we got to that place where we had to say goodbye to them. Our lives, health, family, friends, and job may have suffered, so we knew it was time to let go. However, simply letting go of addiction is not that easy. Too often, we are quick to replace our addictions with other addictions, no matter how healthy the activity is. Recovery is not only leaving our past substances behind, it is also about avoiding replacement addictions.
When we begin our recovery, we should make sure that we are fully committed to healing completely. Not just an absence of substances, but a complete healing. This occurs when we address the reasons for our initial substance use. When we do the work in therapy to look at why we wanted to numb our pain or escape from our lives or whatever the motive, then we can address those reasons and heal.
The benefits of healing completely are that we have the best chances against relapse or against developing a replacement addiction. There is never any guarantee, and we are always more susceptible to any type of addiction once we have developed an addiction initially. However, we can safeguard ourselves in the best possible way by digging deep into our therapy, facing all of our emotions, and healing completely.
If we still have unresolved pain or we do not invest in our recovery daily, it is easy to develop a replacement addiction. This happens when we replace our substance use with another addiction. Even if the actions or materials are different, the behavior stems from the same source within us.
Some of the common replacement addictions include:
- Exercise Addiction – Exercise is most commonly a good thing. We are encouraged to exercise in recovery, for many reasons. One of the most popular reasons is because our brain releases endorphins when we exercise, a type of natural high. This helps us to feel similar to when we used substances, but without the negative side effects that substances bring.
This is not foolproof though. Many times, exercise can become more than a habit and the need for endorphins more than just a thought. While exercise is strongly encouraged, some of us become addicted to exercise. This can be damaging to our physical health, as we can push our bodies past their limits while seeking that endorphin high. Exercise can also take up too much of our time or money, or interfere with relationships in our life. We need to monitor ourselves to know that we are staying within the realm of healthy levels of exercise so that we do not fall prey to exercise as a replacement addiction.
- Sex Addiction – Sex can also be very healthy and is recommended when we are emotionally prepared and have an appropriate partner, etc. However, sex can also become an addiction in which we might engage in risky behaviors, betray a partner, spend too much money, and more. This is another common replacement addiction because most people have some sort of sex in their lives and so it is more often a matter of tempering our desires rather than simply abstaining completely.
- Gambling Addiction – The allure of the possibility of winning, of gaining something without necessarily working for it, and especially the opportunity of pure chance can create a type of high of its own. Regardless of how we gamble or even how much we gamble, the practice itself is incredibly addictive. Yet this is an addiction that can easily destroy lives and cause us to lose everything we have. This is why it is important to heal completely from substance addictions, so that we do not replace them with something else that is so harmful in our lives.
- Nicotine Addictions – One of the most common replacement addictions is nicotine. In fact, it is so common for people to start smoking or vaping during or after treatment that it is rarely even recognized as a replacement addiction. However, nicotine is very addictive and both smoking and vaping are very harmful to our health. When we are being honest with ourselves, we will see nicotine addictions for what they are.
- Food Addiction – Everyone has to eat, so how can food be an addiction? People replace their substance use with food addiction, meaning they eat in response to emotions or because of cravings. Much like exercise, food addiction does not seem harmful until we realize that we can develop obesity, heart problems, diabetes, and other life-threatening issues.
Everything in Moderation
The best rule when treating addiction is to push ourselves and heal completely from our addiction. A secondary rule would be to monitor all of our habits and use the good things in moderation. When we work to completely heal ourselves, we fortify ourselves against replacing our substance use with other addictions, even if they seem like healthy endeavors initially.
The actions or products may look different from our substances, but the addiction is the same. When we are aware of the potential consequences, we can be proactive and avoid possible replacement addictions.
Avoiding replacement addictions is not only possible, but within your control. Rancho Milagro Recovery can give you the tools you need to heal from your addiction. Call us at (951) 526-4582 and we can talk to you about the pitfalls to avoid in healing, and helping to keep yourself free of all addictions.