For many of us, the use of alcohol and substances was a way of coping with something that felt out of our control. Sometimes this “thing” felt tangible right in front of us, such as a berating boss, financial issues, or troubles at school. However, often this thing we are trying to escape by using substances is something that lies deeper under the surface. Oftentimes, this includes emotional issues that have been buried and need to be unearthed in recovery. If these root causes are not properly dealt with, we are at risk of replacing one addiction with another.
The Importance of Creating an Effective Long-Term Recovery Plan
One important factor that many of us don’t think about when going to treatment is the aftercare and action that must take place after we leave. Treatment is rarely a “one-and-done” cure, nor should it be. Recovery is about more than the treatments we participate in; it is about how we take what we learn from those treatments and incorporate them into our everyday lives.
This is why addiction aftercare and creating a long-term recovery plan is so important. It gives us the tools we need not just to stay sober, but to positively participate in and enjoy life. When these tools are lacking is when we start to feel shaky, and when that happens, there is a much greater potential for relapse. There is also much greater potential that we will start replacing one addiction with another. Often, these addictions fall under the category of “process addictions.”
Replacing One Addiction for Another: Avoiding Process Addictions
Process addictions are behavioral addictions that often get minimized in the public eye because they often don’t have the same obvious visible consequences as substance addictions. However, process addictions can be just as emotionally damaging and disruptive to one’s everyday life and well-being.
According to the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, “Behavioral addiction such as internet addiction is similar to drug addiction except that in the former, the individual is not addicted to a substance but the behavior or the feeling brought about by the relevant action. In addition, the physical signs of drug addiction, are absent in behavioral addiction.” Also, “behaviorally addicted individuals have certain symptoms and will undergo the same consequences brought about by addiction to alcohol and drugs as well as other obsessive behaviors.” The two keywords to take away here are “consequences,” and “obsessive.”
Better Understanding Process Addictions
Perhaps the most well-known process addictions live in the realm of eating disorders and disordered eating. These types of disorders can be devastating, even deadly. It is also not uncommon for eating disorders to co-occur with substance use disorder (SUD), and it is also not uncommon for eating disorders to manifest while in recovery.
A big reason why process addictions show up in recovery is that indivduals can start to feel like without substances, they have no control over their emotions. Where once the solution was to drink and use substances when there was emotional, without an active recovery plan, there is a void. The danger when this happens is that this void can be filled with another form of addiction.
Many process addictions are still highly prevalent today. These include gambling addiction, shopping addiction, and exercise addiction. However, many new process addictions exist due to the tech-boom nature of our society. These include Internet addiction, online shopping addiction, online gaming addiction, “doom scrolling,” and, perhaps the most common, social media addiction.
How to Better Avoid Replacing One Addiction for Another
One of the best ways for avoiding replacing one addiction for another is by creating a sober network, joining a recovery community, and staying active in that recovery community. Doing this allows for something positive to fill that void that alcohol and substances used to serve rather than some other form of addictive behavior.
A big part of these three steps to avoid relapsing into another addiction is the concept of “service.” Service in recovery is often crucial because it helps us to get out of focusing on ourselves and our problems for a while. These are the problems that may lead to another form of addiction.
When we focus on someone else’s problems instead of our own, not only does it help them recover, but it also puts our own issues in perspective and ultimately helps us. Essentially, in recovery, positive actions can offset the compulsion to participate in negative addictive behaviors.
The Importance of Service at Hawaii Island Recovery
Here at Hawaii Island Recovery, we believe in the maxim, “You have to give it away to keep it.” This is why we work tirelessly to help our clients understand the importance of helping others and taking action in recovery.
We also believe that recovery is about the we, not the me. Here on Hawaii’s Big Island, we are a community of people in recovery helping people in recovery, and that is a beautiful circle that we are proud to be a part of.
Early recovery is all about building on the foundational tools learned in treatment to help you manage cravings and difficult thoughts attached to your past addiction. These tools are healthy ways to help inspire growth and opportunity. However, sometimes, some lean too heavily on other ways to fulfill the void left behind by using substances, and they do this by replacing one addiction with another. It might even go undetected at first. Maybe you find joy in shopping, eating, or exercising. However, when things are enjoyed in excess, they can start to hurt your quality of life and inform addiction. For more information on treatment options, please reach out to Hawaii Island Recovery today at (866) 390-5070.