People who have recovered from addiction to drugs and alcohol need to be cautioned against other forms of addictions that don’t often get talked about. These might include hoarding, TV addiction, food addiction, shopping addiction, sex addiction, social media addiction, and other kinds, collectively labeled behavioral addictions.
The reason why behavioral addictions may be easy to develop is that the brain still has ingrained patterns that make you susceptible to substitute addictions. Your mind has a learned tendency of finding a replacement compulsion for pleasure. The good thing is that the lessons you learned in recovery from substance use disorder can provide you with all the necessary tools you need to recover from these non-substance addictions.
The Other Addictions We Talk Less About
People who are or have been addicted to alcohol and drugs have a significantly increased chance of developing lesser-known kinds of addictions. Similarly, when a substance addict recovers, they might pick up food or TV addiction as a replacement. Almost any activity can become an addiction disorder, including ones that are generally socially acceptable. These can include video game addiction, compulsive cleaning, and overworking. While these things are not inherently bad, if you notice you cannot stop doing it but there are negative consequences for continuing it, this is a sign of behavioral addiction.
After recovery from substance abuse, you might be at risk of developing these other disorders, such as gambling, food, or internet addiction. Because your body and the brain have difficulties adjusting to the absence of drugs and alcohol, they may look for other ways to meet the needs of cravings or light up pleasure centers in your brain. To avoid this, you must develop healthy routines in life to stay balanced.
The Addicted Mind Often Fuels Some Kind of Addiction
By engaging in non-substance or behavioral addiction activities repetitively, you are likely seeking out feelings of comfort, chemical releases, or an escape from reality or painful emotions. The medical community has noticed that until recently, non-substance-related behavioral addiction was not listed in mental disorders, but their risks and costs are very real.
While people who have suffered from drug or alcohol addiction have an increased likelihood of encountering a substitute addiction, behavioral addictions exist outside of drug and alcohol users. This ultimately comes down to how your mind and emotions work. Addictions are fueled by some kind of gap in your capacity to meet the needs of your brain and body. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you dig down to the root causes of your addiction to stop your original addiction and potential future substitute addictions in their tracks.
Non-substance addiction can be disruptive to your life if they go on untreated. When engaging in non-substance addiction, the brain is suffering the same kind of chronic disorder as substance addiction. They experience a rush when doing these activities and the brain forms a rewarding pathway to repeat that kind of experience. Therefore, your judgment becomes impaired and the cravings for a certain activity cannot be curbed within healthy boundaries, much in the same way that drugs or alcohol have affected you. While the detrimental effects aren’t as immediate or noticeable as those of substance addiction, behavioral addiction can be just as harmful.
The Toolbox Is Ready to Use
How do you quit non-substance addiction then? The truth is that in some cases it can be harder since the activity may be normal and prevalent. The good news is that if you have experienced recovery from substance addiction, you know methods to overcome addiction, cravings, and triggers. By making the life-affirming transition from addicted to recovered, you gain a recovery toolbox that helps you navigate life’s challenges and stresses in a much healthier way.
Think back on the things your treatment center staff and therapists have taught you in the past. If a certain non-substance activity is getting out of control in your life, there is an addictive pattern. Your brain is doing that familiar thing by telling you that it is only for fun and you could stop at any time. Admitting that you now have a non-substance addiction is the first step towards coming clean.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy to help you address the deeper causes is a good first step. Talking to your therapist may help you understand your urges and cope with them. Meanwhile, you should rebuild an accountability group, including supportive family and friends. Join a 12-step or other recovery group with consistency. Above all, learn to connect with people, push your ego aside, and ask for help when you need it.
If you or a loved one have put in the work to recover from substance addiction but now experience behavioral compulsions, you may be experiencing a substitute addiction. Following substance abuse recovery, the brain may look for a new way to derive pleasure or deal with negative emotions. The good news is, much like substance addiction, these other forms of addictive habits can be treated in similar ways through behavioral therapies. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists can help you or your loved one heal from a non-substance addiction. Substitute addictions aren’t as dire, but they are still as detrimental as substance addiction. Our residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, 12-step programs, and custom treatment plans. We are committed to helping you achieve all-rounded wellness. Call us at (866) 906-3203. You can count on our expertise and be confident that we are the ideal recovery community for you.