Switching Addictions, More Common than You Think
When some people become sober they trade off their “drug of choice” for something that can seemingly be harmless. There’s shopping, sweets, sex, gambling, work, exercise, ect. All of these things, in moderation, are fine and many times normal activities. BUT when you use them to excess, you have a whole new addiction on your hands.
Getting to the Root Cause
Repeatedly switching addictions is an avoidance behavior. It’s not the behavior that is the problem, the problem lies within us. We use food, shopping, exercise, ect. in excess to change the way we feel. The fact that we are not comfortable in our own skins to just be, therein lies the problem. In recovery you have to get to the root cause of your addiction or you will:
- A) relapse to your drug of choice
- B) relapse into a substitute addiction
- C) be a miserable S.O.B.
“Whether positive, negative, anxious, tense or depressed, there’s a desire to self-medicate to minimize emotional discomfort.” Dr. Gregory Collins
This blog looks at “B.” Here’s my case history. While in recovery I switched my addiction from alcohol and cocaine to:
- Shopping- at one point in my recovery my husband and I were pretty well off. We bought a house and I decided I was going to get rid of everything from our old apartment and buy only the best of the best for our new house. I would search online for the perfect “look” I wanted for a room then run out with the credit card and buy and buy and buy. I was obsessed! One day I spent $1000 on towels and window treatments and I felt high. As soon as I got home and looked around the “high” wore off and I was looking for the next thing to buy. I realized at that point I had a problem.
- Sugar- I would stock up on Popsicle’s and Skittles and when I got low or ran out it was the same feeling I got when the bar was about to close or I was almost out of coke. Panic! I would eat so many skittles that I would feel high. I finally went on a sugar detox and it was almost as bad as a drug detox. I felt sick, cranky and I was so lethargic I could hardly move.
- Sex- I’m not going to go there. That’s between me and my sponsor. 😉
The Solution is the Same but the Fellowship is Different
The solution to not drinking, drugging or switching to another addiction is the same (12 steps), but you have to be willing to get uncomfortable. Looking at the truth within yourself is not always the most pleasant experience. Do you realize that all of the addictions I listed above have a 12 step fellowship? Each and everyone. In fact there are more than 200 12 step fellowships out there. Why? Because the same solution works for every problem.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to go to meetings with people who have the same problem as you, even if the 12 steps are the same. Can you image if I went to an AA meeting and said, “My name is L. and I’m addicted to Skittles”?!?! I don’t think that would go over well, do you? I’d be better off at an *OA meeting or FAA meeting.
More Common than You Think
“It is estimated that one out of four people switch addictions. People who have one addiction are prone to others,” says Dr. Gregory Collins, section head of the Alcohol & Drug Recovery Center at the Cleveland Clinic. “If you are biologically programmed to addictive illnesses, you risk having more than one. It’s the nature of addiction. Whether positive, negative, anxious, tense or depressed, there’s a desire to self-medicate to minimize emotional discomfort.” (E. Theiss, 2012)
Right now I have a friend that’s a gambling addict and a sex and love addict, a bunch of girls I know are binge and purging and I can’t tell you the number of women in recovery that put on 20 or more pounds after they get sober (including me). It’s hard not to look at this and wonder if we have an epidemic going on in our recovery community.
Whoops, I forgot to mention another common addiction in recovery… Energy drinks.
What are your thoughts? Have you switched addictions or know someone who has? Sharing your experience may help someone else realize they have a problem.
Peace, Love & Sobriety,
*A2WG is not affiliated with OA or FAA