People recovering from an alcohol or substance use disorder can sometimes replace one addiction with another. Sometimes this can mean compulsively engaging in other activities. Activities like work or exercise can be healthy and productive, but when they become a transmission of addiction, they can hinder recovery.
One goal of recovery and learning to lead a sober lifestyle is to regain control of your life and your choices. Compulsive behavior does not allow you free choice, even in productive activities, and is beyond your control.
Replace compulsive behavior
An example of compulsive activity for people new to recovery is “workaholism” – which means that you become obsessive about your job, career, or job search.
Working out and improving your financial situation are important goals. However, if you work more than full time or spend most of your time thinking or talking about work, the behavior can be compulsive.
The same goes for training. Exercise can be beneficial for people in recovery, but research shows that long-term sobriety can be hampered when an exercise program becomes compulsive and replaces previous addictive behaviors.
Unhealthy compulsive behavior
Sometimes people who are in recovery replace addictions that are not productive or healthy. For example, a popular substitute for alcoholics to start smoking marijuana, known as marijuana preservation.
For example, people who previously used heroin or methamphetamine could replace marijuana. They can do this because they believe marijuana is nowhere near as harmful.
There are many other behaviors that can become compulsive, such as: B. Gambling, sex, video games, shopping.
In the past, it was often suggested that people who had recovered from a substance use disorder were at a higher risk of developing another addiction. However, research suggests that people who have recovered from substance use are actually at lower risk of new substance use disorders...
A 2017 study found that both increases and decreases in the use of other substances were very common during recovery from cannabis use. The study also found that factors such as treatment involvement and social influences played an important role in preventing the use of other substances after recovery from cannabis use disorders...
If you are in aftercare in a professional rehab program, your counselor will alert you to the dangers of replacing these unhealthy behaviors that can contribute to relapse and are counterproductive to your long-term recovery.
Try to find a balance in your life
Your ongoing treatment counselor will ask about your recovery activities and see if you are becoming obsessive about any of your behaviors. This is a topic that is discussed by most of the counselors because of how common addiction substitution is.
You are encouraged to make recovery-related activities the top priority of the structure of your daily schedule. Your counselor will remind you of the importance of meeting your personal needs and taking advantage of relaxation and leisure activities.
The key to long-term recovery is finding balance in your life by working, relaxing, eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, and avoiding overplanning and overwork.
An exception to the substitution rule
One area of compulsive behavior that your counselor is unlikely to advise against is participating in a 12-step or support group program. People who are new to recovery are sometimes forced to join support groups – sometimes even attend multiple sessions per day.
During the first few months of your rehab, your counselor will likely encourage your active participation in Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and / or other mutual support groups.