25 Jul Transferring Addiction and Breaking Bad Habits
It’s not uncommon for those of us who are recovering from one addiction to find ourselves gravitating toward another addictive substance or behavior. The rationale behind this behavior is that if a lesser addiction or habit helps to take the edge off of withdrawals and brings us comfort during our recovery process, then it can’t be that bad.
Smoking or playing video games all day are examples of harmful habits that we might use as a crutch to help ourselves recover from a more serious addiction. Even behaviors that seem healthy, like exercise, could become harmful when performed in an obsessive, addictive way. These lesser types of addiction are harmful to the recovery process, and could lead to a relapse.
Feeding the Disease
Addiction isn’t a simple matter of a dependence on one substance. It’s a complicated disease that has many factors feeding into it. Co-occurring mental disorders, multiple addictions, and deep rooted behavioral patterns will all need to be overcome in order to be free from addiction. This is why managing to stop using won’t be enough to break an addiction. All of the other aspects of the disease will need to be addressed and healed as well. Addictive behaviors and substances besides the primary addiction might take the edge off of cravings temporarily, but they feed into the overall addictive state, sinking us further into our disease.
Feeding into lesser addictions to escape the pains of a primary addiction is a slippery slope that often leads to relapse. These types of compromises continue addictive patterns of seeking temporary relief, and giving in to cravings. These small concessions and weaknesses lead to bigger ones, until we find ourselves right back where we started- giving in to our primary addiction and suffering a relapse. We didn’t become addicts overnight, but rather we came into it step-by-step. Relapse can happen this way too, as we give in to other addictive substances and behaviors in search of comfort and relief.
To truly gain freedom from addiction, we have to be healed from the entire disease, not just from a single substance dependence. Besides leaving our drugs of choice behind, we need to alter various addictive behaviors, and be treated concurrently for any co-occurring disorders. As our brains search for avenues of relief in lesser addictions, we should remind ourselves of the big picture, ask for help, and work hard to keep addiction at bay on all fronts. Even though it feels like an overwhelming task now, the process will get easier as we make more progress.