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Replacing One Addiction With a Different One

If you struggle with substance abuse, you may leave treatment thinking that since you have conquered your addiction to a particular substance or behavior, you are safe to imbibe in a different substance or behavior. The problem is not in the substances or behaviors alone but in the brain’s pleasure center. It is the effect substances have on the brain that makes addiction to alcohol, drugs, or unhealthy behaviors so enticing and seemingly impossible to escape. 

The road of recovery is long and arduous, and it may seem that you are met with trials at every turn. Having something to help you relax and cope is essential, but addictions come in many forms. If you already struggle with addiction-like tendencies, you want to steer clear from any and all substances, including alcohol, and unhealthy behaviors that can turn into addictions. 

What Causes Addiction?

You learned the answer to this question in treatment, but you may need to be reminded every now and then. You are not weak because you struggle with addiction. Rather, substance use results from life experiences, genetics, and brain chemistry. Your brain runs on dopamine, and when you engage in behaviors that “light up” the dopamine system (also your pleasure center), you tend to turn to those behaviors more and more frequently no matter the cost because the behavior makes you feel good. 

This good feeling, whether it be just feeling something or masking the pain of a problem you are facing, does not eliminate your problems. Instead, you are allowing yourself to hide in these good feelings, which are momentary and may lead to harsh consequences in your work, social, and family life. 

How to Avoid a New Addiction

While you may not set out to develop a new addiction, it can still happen. So, there are some steps to take to help ensure your safety as you navigate recovery after treatment. First, you want to recognize that the possibility of developing a new addiction is very real. If you once abused other substances, you may find yourself abusing alcohol after treatment because may not have recognized the possibility of developing a different addiction. 

Yes, you want to avoid old people, places, and things, but you also must be aware that you can fall into other addictive behavior patterns. While in treatment, you gained various tools to bolster your recovery, including healthy coping skills. You learned how to find the support you need without running into another addiction.

Reach Out for Support

There are times when you must reach out for more support. Asking for help from your support system may seem difficult when you find yourself struggling with a potentially addictive substance or behavior. Many treatment centers have alumni programs to support you throughout recovery.

An alumni program can become an important part of your support system. Other options are available as well. When you were in treatment, you may have started going to 12-Step meetings, and you can continue to make these meetings a regular part of your life. You can recover without developing another addictive or problematic behavior, but you have to be honest with your support system when you are struggling.

Avoid Triggering Situations

You have heard to avoid the people, places, and things that were part of your life when you had an active addiction. This is incredibly true for building an effective recovery, whether it be from trauma, mental health conditions, or addiction. If you know you struggle with certain issues, you may need to avoid those people, places, and things until you are solid enough in your recovery to revisit those scenes. 

Do not feel like you have to be perfect in your recovery. Perfectionism is a form of self-sabotage and will erode the work you have done in your recovery. You might struggle with triggering situations no matter how hard you try to avoid or plan around them. You will struggle, but that struggle does not have to destroy your recovery.

Your Past Does Not Define Your Future

One critical item you must remember is that your past does not define your future. Just because you have a history of struggling with certain substances or behaviors, it does not mean that you will always struggle with them, nor that those substances or behaviors are the only problems you will ever face. 

Also, if you struggle with addiction to alcohol, drugs, or unhealthy behaviors, co-occurring conditions and trauma may have played a role in your life experiences. You are not defined by any of these experiences. You can overcome any addiction, and you do not have to run from one addiction to another until you find your stride. Instead, you can run toward total health and well-being as you learn how to define yourself by your intrinsic worth and what you want for your life. Be bold and thrive.

Running from one addiction to another after treatment is not uncommon, but you can avoid changing addictions by being proactive. Take the initiative and begin your recovery by identifying your reasons for addictive behaviors and asking what you are running from when you engage in your misuse of alcohol, drugs, or unhealthy behaviors, also known as process addictions. You can overcome all addictions, but you may need support and a regular reminder that you are worth recovery. At The Guest House, we know this regular reminder is critical, which is why we offer continued support through our Alumni Program for all who have completed treatment at our facility. Stop running from one addiction to another and learn how to live your life to the fullest. Please call The Guest House at (855) 483-7800 today and learn how we can help you overcome addiction for good.