3 Common Substitute Addictions and How to Steer Clear of Them

Have you ever considered that addiction does not just fit into one tiny box?

Addiction does not just encompass drugs and alcohol – while those are the two most common types of addiction people generally think of, addiction can include other areas such as food or pornography.

There is no doubt that an addict has an addictive personality – or they have at least grown to have one with their addiction. So, oftentimes, even after they have recovered from whatever substance it is they were abusing, it can be hard to not become addicted to something else…

On top of already still trying to avoid the substance, they were previously addicted to.

But, sometimes, addicts do this as a way to cope – instead of going back to the pills or the bottle, they find a substitute addiction.

A substitute addiction is just a new activity that they began participating in and become just as strongly addicted to as they were to the last thing.

Here are a few of the most common things people substitute for their previous addiction:

  1. Sex

    Especially for those who might have suffered previous relationship issues, they can turn to more and more sex as a relief. It is very easy for an addict to quickly become obsessed with the physical release and emotional attachment that sex provides. While it is a natural behavior, and one that should be appropriately enjoyed, it can become a compulsive behavior.

    How to avoid it: Look for patterns in each romantic partner. Try to recognize red flags of an unhealthy relationship and put your focus into building long-lasting, strong and positive relationships. In the beginning stages of sobriety, focus on getting and staying clean. Try to avoid looking for a sex partner for the first year of sobriety to ensure you are emotionally stable.

  2. Food

    What you eat during addiction recovery is important – both to the nourishment of your body and to the avoidance of another addiction. People generally turn to sugary foods, greasy foods, and fatty foods as they cause surges in dopamine which make people enjoy them.

    How to avoid it: Meet with a nutritionist to find a good meal plan that works for you. Focus on how good you feel when you eat healthy rather than the cravings for the bad food. Also, search for the cause of the void you have rather than just trying to fill it with anything you can find.

  3. Shopping

    Shopping is a compulsive behavior as well – you feel compelled to purchase things you don’t really need often through rationalization of the cost. However, this can cause serious financial trouble or lead to other issues such as hoarding.

    How to avoid it: Only carry small amounts of cash or use a prepaid card with limited funds. Steer clear of triggers, such as shopping when you are already upset. Before heading to the store, make a list and commit to sticking to it.

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Addiction is a disease and it can eat away at your entire life if you aren’t careful. Just because you have gotten clean from the substance does not mean you don’t have to protect yourself from other addictions.

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