People apply different methods to cope with stress and trauma. Unfortunately, sometimes these coping strategies turn into unhealthy behaviors like excessive gambling, shopping, or substance use. Any of these can quickly turn into an addiction in a person’s life. Therefore, it is critical for individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) to stay vigilant in their recovery and prevent a coping tool from turning into another addiction.
What Does It Mean to Trade One Addiction for Another?
For some people with a SUD, life without turning to substance use or drinking can seem terrifying. Studies confirm that most individuals use substances or drinking as an external relief to their emotional or mental health issues. Whether a person gravitates to so-called healthy behaviors, the individual can easily develop an unhealthy obsession with such behaviors. The second addiction may arise from healthy habits or actions. For instance, a person may turn to exercise as an external relief. Common behaviors that can turn into addiction are:
- Sex and relationship
- Eating or restricting food
- Internet surfing
- Using nicotine in some form
- Perusing social media
Most particularly, a person in recovery may fall vulnerable to developing another addiction. The recovery process, especially the initial stage, leads to many unpacking emotions, processing past issues, and coping with cravings. Many find such a circumstance very intense. As a result, people may seek external relief to deal with stress and become vulnerable to new addictions. For example, some may develop an addiction to social media to relieve their intense loneliness. In contrast, others may develop an addiction to shopping because of the intense need to relieve their guilt or stress.
The Dangers of Trading One Addiction for Another
Life is stressful, and everyone experiences frustration. Healthy living entails learning to flow with the rhythms of life via acceptance and problem-solving. Subsequently, a good treatment program, like Restoration Recovery Center, exposes its participants to healthy coping tools and firm emotional regulation. Failure to establish coping skills often leaves space for a behavior addiction to rear its ugly head.
The dangers of a behavior addiction include:
- Inducing depression, anxiety, emotional triggers, and loneliness.
- Neglecting the root problem of a SUD, which often involves a spiritual, psychological, physical, and mental malady.
- Using nicotine as a substitute addiction can lead to respiratory disorders.
- Constantly binging or restricting food can negatively affect our internal organs, immune system, blood pressure, or mental health.
- Excessive gambling and shopping may provoke detrimental financial consequences.
- Using sexual activity as a substitute may leave a person more vulnerable to catching an STD or emotional health issues.
- Being too preoccupied with work takes time away from our relationships and family members. We avoid hobbies, having fun with others, recovery work, or even self-care.
- Excessive exercise leads to multiple workouts a day, obsessing over fitness, and over-critique one’s body shape—all unhealthy habits.
Identifying an Addiction Replacement Has Occurred
While these earlier mentioned behaviors, like shopping, can appear as a healthier alternative to using substances, they produce similar consequences. Having a behavior as a disorder of use means that it is outside the user’s control. Some of the most obvious symptoms of a substitution disorder include:
- The behavior is more of a priority than work or social life.
- Withdrawing from loved ones or friends to do the behavior.
- You feel compelled to do the activity despite the negative consequences.
- You feel shame or guilt.
- You feel you need to use more of the substance or activity to get the same effect.
- You are spending more time on the activity than other activities in your life.
- Your spending is becoming disproportionate to your income.
- The activity is causing harm to your family, loved ones, relationships, finances, or work.
- You notice your emotional or mental health suffering because of it.
- You constantly think about your recent activity or vice.
Preventing and Treating
People often turn to using substances or unhealthy activities to self-medicate. Effective treatment calls for evidence-based therapies like behavioral therapies to help individuals process unconscious emotions. As a result, the person no longer feels the need to project these unconscious feelings onto different substances or activities. Moreso, qualified therapists can help people develop important skills and strategies for living a sober life.
At Restoration Recovery Center, we provide a handful of evidence-based therapies to benefit our clients. We focus on addressing underlying issues, such as trauma, so that the individual can turn to healthy behaviors without risk of relapse or second addiction. In addition, our qualified clinicians emphasize helping participants better identify their triggers and addictive patterns of thought— important for relapse prevention.
Sometimes people turn to certain behaviors to cope with their emotions, SUD, or struggles in life. Some may use gambling, shopping, exercise, social media, or other behaviors. These behaviors can quickly turn into an addiction in a person’s life. It’s important to watch for the signs of addictive behaviors, including increased moodiness or risky behavior, neglecting responsibilities, feeling out of control, harm to the relationships, etc. A professional counselor can help you identify potential destructive coping methods.
At Restoration Recovery Center, our team of qualified clinicians offers evidence-based therapies to help people overcome addiction. We provide therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) to change behavior and thought patterns. We want to help you turn a new leaf and be the best version of yourself. We believe that you can live a life filled with love, happiness, and meaning. To learn more about our treatment program, contact us at (888) 290-0925.