Are You Substituting One Addiction For Another?

friends talking about addictive behavior

People who live with substance use disorder are more prone to developing an addiction that’s not drugs. There are many reasons that this can happen, and they all still come down to the disease of addiction.

What Kinds Of Behaviors Can Become Addictive?

Addiction involves both obsession and compulsion. Your brain and body craved alcohol or drugs before you got sober. It will recognize when an activity boosts feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. People who live with substance use disorder may be involved in activities that, while not healthy, feel hard to stop thinking about or doing.

These feelings are compulsive, like an addiction; when you do an activity or use a substance repeatedly, the brain's reward center will still be activated. You may follow your innate drive to “get more” of that feeling, leading to very unhealthy results.

Activities that can be compulsive or addictive:

  • Exercise
  • Bodybuilding
  • Binging/Purging food
  • Caffeine Consumption
  • Vaping/smoking cigarettes
  • Extreme sports
  • Working
  • Speeding
  • Shoplifting
  • Gambling
  • Sexual activity
  • Watching pornography

As you can see from the list, not all the activities that are addictive would be considered “bad” in moderation. Productive activities like work are great in moderation. But if your life surrounds your job, you may be throwing yourself into a whole new addiction cycle. Risk-taking behavior like speeding or skydiving also releases a lot of feel-good endorphins, which is why so many people engage in them.

Exercising once a day or every few days is healthy, but spending hours running or lifting weights could cause muscle injury and exhaustion. Drinking a cup of coffee once a day may be fine for your health, but if you find yourself living off of coffee, your health could be affected.

The Dangers Of New Addictions

When you become addicted to something besides substances, you’re in relapse mode. New addictions can bring back old behavior patterns, such as lying or minimizing your behavior. You may start to think there are other parts of recovery that you can cut corners from.

Lying about your addiction or falling into other old behavior patterns, such as minimizing your behavior, can be a trigger for relapse. Staying honest with yourself means reaching out when you realize your new addiction is a problem. You are powerless over your addiction, but you have the power to ask for help.

With a sponsor or therapist, you can start looking at your triggers and begin to abstain from compulsive behaviors. There are many healthier coping mechanisms that you can begin to do. Mindfulness, talk therapy, and meditation are just a few tools available.

You’re a human being, and you’re allowed to make mistakes. Don’t get high or drunk no matter what. Your recovery matters!

Consider Sober Living

Learning to live a sober lifestyle is an important part of your first steps in recovery! A sober living situation is often an excellent launchpad for people new to recovery. You can be around peers with similar goals as you begin to plot your next chapter of life. Learn more about sober housing by calling us at 760-216-2077.

People who live with substance use disorder often have other behavior and health problems that need to be treated. Insomnia is a frequent complaint when people stop using alcohol or drugs. Some people only experience it while they are in withdrawal. For other people, sleep issues like insomnia can be persistent. Why is this?

Sleep Disturbances In Recovery

You may also experience other sleep issues, such as nightmares or trouble falling asleep if you have insomnia. While it may be disturbing, it’s a natural occurrence and often thought to result from long-term detoxing as your body rewires your brain. Some people have trouble falling asleep, while others may wake up feeling wide awake in the middle of the night.

People with alcohol use disorder may have more trouble falling asleep than others. Almost 25% of people who have an alcohol problem have sleep issues. People with opioid use disorder also have trouble sleeping during their first year sober as their body adjusts to life without substances. Dreams like drug dreams or dreams about past trauma can also disturb sleep.

Sleep Is Important

A lack of sleep can cause significant issues for people in recovery and should not go unaddressed. When you don’t sleep, your body and mind have trouble recovering and preparing for the next day. Lack of sleep can make you more susceptible to accidents or infections. For many people, insomnia causes additional stress that makes people more vulnerable to relapse.

Sleep is important to emotional and physical healing. Try to give yourself at least 8 hours to sleep every night.

Addressing Insomnia And Sleep Problems

Most people begin to sleep better after their first few months sober, but others may suffer from a sleep disorder. Sleeping disorders can be treated through cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, and relaxation exercises.

Behavioral changes may help a person establish a new sleep routine. Limiting activities in bed such as reading or “doomscrolling” can help signal to your body that it is time to rest. Establishing a simple nightly routine such as brushing your teeth, writing your gratitude list, and going to bed can also help prepare your mind and body to relax. Over-the-counter remedies for sleep can be a trigger for drug use. Don’t try to solve a sleep disorder on your own.

If you’re desperate for sleep, seek professional help. A medical doctor or psychiatrist can help you determine the best course of treatment for sleep issues.

Consider Sober Living

If you are newly sober and looking for a safe, recovery-focused home full of community, sober living may be right for you. Learn more about how it works by calling 760-216-2077.

 

Relapse is common for people early in recovery. Emotions are raw, new feelings and experiences may be intimidating, and some triggers may make people feel like using. It’s well known that addiction is common among people who have experienced trauma. When this trauma, such as early childhood abuse or sexual assault, goes unaddressed, it causes a wound that can affect a person’s entire life.

Unaddressed trauma is a well-known relapse trigger for people who struggle with a substance use disorder. It’s common for people in early recovery to have symptoms of anxiety, depression, or even PTSD when they get sober. Research shows that people who have been diagnosed with PTSD are more likely to relapse when they experience symptoms of the disorder.

Why Is Trauma A Relapse Trigger?

When you have experienced trauma, either in your childhood or as an adult, you probably adapted your life to survive. Some people shut down and go numb in the face of anxiety, while others self-medicate to make themselves feel numb. The emotions, physical sensations, and even dreams surrounding the trauma can make a person feel like they are reliving it repeatedly.

Newcomers to recovery feel a roller coaster of emotions during and after detox. These emotions may be related to things that happened today or long ago. Trauma, hurt, and shame often rears their head in people who live with PTSD. Angry and frightened outbursts can also occur occasionally when people feel like they’re in the grip of a traumatic situation again.

The intense emotions surrounding trauma can make a person want to do anything to escape their feelings, quickly leading to using their drug of choice again.

Working On Understanding Trauma

Trauma is something that people in the addiction profession watch for in addicted persons. Therapy, medication, if needed, and self-care are all important ways to begin healing from the pain of past trauma. In treatment and therapy, you will start new relationships and practice trusting yourself and others again.

Being reminded of trauma may make you feel shameful or afraid. Trauma is nothing to be ashamed of; if somebody hurt you or something happened to you, it’s not your fault. Acknowledging the pain and hurt is essential to recovery. Shame is a normal reaction, but as you will learn, feelings aren’t facts.

In recovery, you will learn to love yourself and feel comfortable in your skin again. Healing from the trauma of the past takes time and willingness. Treatment can offer a safe space for you to begin the healing journey. The journey starts with deciding to stay clean.

Staying clean will mean learning to love yourself again and working on healing your self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. Working through the trauma will help you understand how it affects you today. If you need help getting help for your trauma, reach out and ask.

Sober Living Options

Trauma-informed therapy and recovery can help you thrive even when you feel your past traumas are overwhelming.

Recovery is available to everyone! Sober living offers a safe, structured environment to continue your healing journey and focus on recovery. Learn more about what we offer by calling us at 760-216-2077.

Why do people who are sober have drug dreams? Many people in recovery from addiction discover that they dream more lucidly when sober for a while. However, one widespread phenomenon that sober people experience is dreams where they are using drugs again. These drug dreams can be frightening and disturbing. They can also bring up a desire to get high. All of the feelings you have about these types of dreams are valid. Learning about why you have dreams where you use drugs can help you walk through your fears and handle your feelings.

Drugs Were A Big Part Of Your Life

One reason you will have dreams about drugs is that when you have been addicted, you have spent a lot of time dedicated to your addiction. Getting and using your substance of choice was a priority. You spent a lot of time with your addiction. This time in your life doesn’t magically disappear, even when you have been sober for a while. No one knows precisely why we dream at all, but our dreams seem to depict fears and unresolved problems typically.

Even when you’re concentrating on being sober, you are still aware that you were once addicted to drugs. So your mind may bring it up to you every now and then.

Talking About Your Drug Dreams

Drug dreams are normal but can trigger many feelings to sort through. How do you feel when you wake up from a dream about getting high? Do you feel scared, angry, or upset? Remind yourself, first; it was just a dream. You can’t control your dreams, even if they make you feel guilty or upset.

Talking to your sponsor or therapist about dreams you have can be helpful. Some people like to keep dream journals to understand their dreams more thoroughly. However, making sure you talk about your feelings when you dream about substance use is essential.

One Day At A Time

Every day sober, you’re getting better, one day at a time. However, you may be going through an intense time in your recovery if you’re having recurring dreams about drugs. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if these dreams are causing you regular anxiety or are interrupting your sleep. In addition, you can learn relaxation techniques that may help you dream more calmly.

Join A Recovery Home Community

Many people find that they’re interested in spending more time with others in recovery once they're sober. Sober living homes offer community and lifestyle for newly sober people. While there is structure, there is also freedom and assistance while you work your recovery program a day at a time.

Learn more about what our sober living programs have to offer at 760-216-2077.

Recovery is a beautiful journey full of possibility. If you’re new to recovery but have begun to string together a few months sober, congratulations! Many people end up on a “pink cloud” full of hope and excitement when they first get sober. During this time, optimism reigns. You may feel like you can do everything better; you’re a better employee, better friend, and a happier, more productive person in general. You may want to catch up with everything – and end up overwhelmed. Recovery burnout is real, but it’s preventable.

So how can you prevent burnout while still living a healthy and productive life in recovery?

Manage Your Time to Prevent Burnout

When you get sober, a lot of your daily time is available. After all, you put a lot of effort and time into using substances. Managing your time by setting reminders and having a to-do list can help you stay focused on daily goals. Scheduling your time may come naturally, or you may want to write a daily schedule. There are plenty of planners that can help you decide what to do with your time daily or weekly.

In recovery, you’ll spend your time in therapy, with 12-step groups, and also live life on its terms. These are things you’ll schedule weekly. You’ll also probably have a work schedule at some point and then, of course, plan time for meals and sleep.

Scheduling all work and no play can help you get closer to burning out. Instead, you need to take time for things you enjoy and time to decompress from your daily stresses. This is where self-care is essential.

Self-Care As A Burnout Preventative

Scheduling self-care into your day is important. For example, do you have 15 spare minutes to go for a walk? Or maybe you’re ready to treat yourself to a haircut before your 12-step meeting this weekend?

Find the gaps in your schedule to spend time just enjoying life. Listen to your favorite music for 15 minutes a day. Read a good book. Or take a whole Sunday afternoon to binge-watch your favorite television show with a recovery friend.

Learning self-care is a daily process. You probably didn’t set aside time to be kind to yourself or nurture yourself when you were using substances. Self-care is a way for you to practice kindness to yourself daily.

Consider Sober Living

Many people find that they can prevent burnout when they’re around others in recovery. Sober living is an exciting, rewarding way to connect with others as you continue to move forward in life, substance-free. Learn more about our sober living programs by calling us at 760-216-2077.

When you first get sober, you learn that you are powerless over your addiction and cannot safely use drugs or alcohol. But that is not the extent of what you are powerless over. Of course, you’re powerless over drugs and alcohol, but even if you are a control freak, many things in your life are out of your control. And that’s okay! Admitting you are powerless is the first step to reclaiming your life.

Powerlessness isn’t the same as being weak. Many people find it freeing when they learn that they are powerless over their addiction. However, by admitting you can’t, all on your own, stop drinking or using drugs, you’re using the tiny bit of power you have to get help.

You’re Powerless Over People, Too

Not only are you powerless over your addiction, but you’re also powerless over other people. Yes, your actions affect people, but you don’t control anyone but yourself. (And you shouldn’t be trying to!) You can control what you say, but you cannot control how somebody else reacts to it. Admitting you are powerless over other people can free up many of your thoughts. You can’t fix anyone but yourself. In recovery, that’s your focus.

You’re powerless over your mother, brother, father, sister, the man who works at the grocery store, your sponsor, your ex-girlfriend, and everyone else. The only thing you have power over is how you treat them. But, unfortunately, you cannot control how they react to that treatment.

Powerless Over Places and Things

Just like you are powerless over your addiction, you also have no power over other places and things. You only control how you act or react to those places or things.

You can’t stop the open-air drug market from existing, but you can stop driving by there on your way home. You can’t control if your car battery dies suddenly, but you can call somebody to fix it for you. You can’t stop the grocery store from selling beer, but you can skip that aisle or even send a gig worker to get your food.

Powerlessness is just another fact of life. When you accept that you are powerless, you may find that you feel a little more safe and free in the world. Not only are you powerless, but you’re also not in charge! That means you are only responsible for the things you do and say.

Staying Connected In Sober Living

Sober living is an excellent opportunity for many people to learn to navigate the world in recovery. In addition, you’ll have a sense of structure and community with other people who have the same goals as you do. Learn more about how sober living can enhance your recovery by calling us at 760-216-2077.

Many people in recovery from addiction have a bit of ambivalence about the holidays. After all, it’s good to be sober any day of the week. But the holidays are a time where people with a history of addiction typically struggle. Many people used to medicate heavily around this time of year. It was a way to avoid any guilt or feelings of trauma they dealt with in the past. Now that you are sober, the feelings may still manifest themselves from time to time. However, you don’t have to use substances to deal with those feelings. So how can you survive the holidays in recovery? Here are some great ideas.

Limit Your Time At Family Holiday Gatherings

If you are spending time with family and you feel uncomfortable, it’s a good idea to limit your time and give yourself an “out.” For example, you may want to arrive late, so you mostly eat the main meal, or you may want to arrive on time and leave after dinner. It’s up to you. However, if you feel uncomfortable, don’t agree to something that may upset you.

Make it a priority to check in with others in recovery if you go home for the holidays. There are often a lot of triggers that people have when it comes to family, even when the family is pretty functional. Addiction, after all, is a family disease. You may be in recovery, but not everyone is on the same page as you.

If you have somebody in the family who gives you grief, caused you physical or emotional harm, or who otherwise triggers painful memories, you don’t have to stick around. Instead, make sure you have an Uber app or a friend's phone number who can scoop you up if you feel like getting high or drinking. Your recovery is always more important than who you might “upset” by leaving a gathering early. After all, your life depends on staying sober.

Have a Friends Holiday Gathering, Instead

Some people may not have the family they want, but they spend time with their chosen family. In recovery, this is so important to understand; you don’t have to share your life with people you don’t want to. If you come from an abusive past, or have family members that always scold you or judge you, you can find an alternative to your traditional gatherings.

Many people in recovery have events that are open to others. For example, you may choose to go to a sponsor’s home or a special party or gathering. Or you may simply choose to go to a recovery group that hosts meetings during the holidays. It’s your choice, but it’s recommended that people in recovery don’t spend recovery stewing in old feelings alone.

You deserve to have a decent holiday; reach out to others if you’re not sure what plans you have. They can probably help you develop a plan for something healthy and friendly.

Interested In Sober Living?

Are you interested in living with others new to recovery? A sober living home can help you begin to adapt to life as a newly sober person, offer you structure, and help you plan for the next chapter in your life. Give us a call at 760-216-2077 to learn more about our sober living options.

Many people in recovery have issues coping with change or uncertainty. When you were using substances, you may have felt like there was a big question mark when it came to your future life. Or, you may have daydreamed about the future but could not pursue your dreams. Substance use can derail big plans and objectives. Recovery, however, can be a second chance at life. By working the steps, staying sober, and beginning to work on yourself, you create the opportunity to change your life. However, life can be uncertain, especially in the post-COVID world. So how can a person in recovery from addiction learn to cope with uncertainty?

Acknowledge Your Feelings During Uncertainty

During COVID, there have been a lot of uncertain times, and you may have emotions cropping up again now that the omicron variant is raging. It’s okay to have feelings, even negative ones, about what is going on in the world. But you can’t let those feelings be the only thing that drives you. Accepting and acknowledging your feelings of fear or anger is essential. If you’re feeling these things, take some time to let yourself sit with them.

You may want to keep a journal of your anger or fear. (Much of anger comes from hurt or fear, too.) Writing about your worries can help you put them away for the rest of the day and continue to work on your recovery program. We can make plans for the future, but there will always be life’s little surprises. Some may be good, and some may be bad. But when you are sober, you get to experience life more fully. You also have the support of your peers to help you get through.

Don’t be afraid to express your feelings with others in 12-step meetings and therapy groups. That’s what they are for! Connecting with others by sharing these emotions can help you deal with uncertainty when it crops up in your life.

Making Plans Despite Uncertainty

Even when life is uncertain, you can work on your goals. Breaking down your goals into steps can help you focus on them, bit by bit. For example, you may need to pay off a certain amount of debt before you can start driving a car to your job. So your first goal will be to save money,  which may mean putting money aside for a car. You may also want to start researching cars and car insurance to know how much money you need to save and spend every month.

Sometimes, you may need to step back and regroup when the future seems uncertain. Whenever you feel like life is on shaky grounds, it’s time to re-center yourself in recovery. Don’t drop your recovery program when things go wrong. Your future depends on you taking care of your mental health and recovery.

You can’t always keep the plans you make, but you will learn to adapt in recovery. Don’t stop dreaming or working towards your goals. You may have a detour or two along the way, but you’ll still be able to accomplish things as long as you don’t give up.

Consider Sober Living

Living with others in recovery can help you stay centered as you work towards goals. Learn more about how a sober living environment can benefit your recovery by giving us a call at 760-216-2077.

For people in recovery, coping skills can be a significant challenge. Unfortunately, when you were in active addiction, these skills may have been in short supply.

After all, when you were sad, you probably got high or drunk. When you were angry, you probably got high or drunk. When you felt lonely, happy, confused, or lost…you probably got high or drunk, if it was an option. When you get sober, you learn that you don’t have the best coping skills. Discovering new ones will be a lifelong process. But there are some you can try on for size right away. So what are some good ones to practice?

New Coping Skills To Try On For Size

Not every coping skill works for every emotion. Here are some ones to try on for size. If they don’t work for you, you can always try another one, instead. Keep what you need and leave the rest.

  • When you’re angry: Go for a walk or a jog. If you don’t like that type of exercise, choose something like bicycling, surfing, or shadowboxing. Exercise can release calming hormones that also provide a mood boost.
  • When you’re sad: Permit yourself to cry. Then, listen to sad music for 10 minutes, and let it all out. Or, pick up the phone and call somebody in your recovery network to talk it out.
  • When you’re lonely: Send somebody a text message or get yourself to a 12-step meeting, pronto. People are the cure for loneliness. Yes, you can feel lonely in a room full of people. But, if you share that pain, it often is lessened.
  • When you’re happy/excited/proud: Believe it or not, your coping skills for celebrating may not be the best! Many people use good news as a reason to use substances. Instead, make a date with a friend or your sponsor to go out for ice cream. Share your good news with friends in recovery. Happiness multiplies when it’s shared.
  • When you feel like getting high/drunk: Call somebody who doesn’t, and make arrangements to get to a 12-step meeting. Share about how you feel, don’t hold it inside. The feeling will pass, but keeping it secret can be dangerous to your mental health.

Consider Sober Living

Are you or somebody you love interested in a living situation that offers structure and aftercare? Sober living may be the right decision for you. Learn more about your options by calling us at 760-216-2077.

People in recovery learn quickly that they need each other. After all, the power of the 12 steps lies in not having to figure everything out on your own. Friendship and socializing are natural human needs. When you were getting high or drinking, you may have had trouble being a good friend. Or maybe your friendships were unhealthy in another way; for many people who had drinking or substance-using buddies, the friendship becomes more about the high than about healthy boundaries.

New People, Places, and Things

When people get sober, they’re told to give up old people, places, and things. This means that to stay healthy and focused on recovery, change is vital. For example, it’s not safe or healthy to continue to be friends with anyone you got high or drunk with. While they may care about you or have been a considerable part of your life, letting them go will help you stay sane and sober. It’s also essential to stay away from old haunts and other things that remind you of using drugs or alcohol.

Once you’ve had some time sober, especially when you’re in treatment, you’re going to learn more about yourself and your unhealthy relationships. Many people in recovery struggled with relationships, even before they began using substances.

Healthy relationships, especially platonic friendships, are a stepping board to a healthier life in recovery. Making other friends who are honest, open-minded, and willing to stay sober can help you develop a strong support network.

Staying Sober And Growing With Friends

For most people in recovery, new people, places, and things are necessary for staying sober. The new places may be 12-step meetings or other sober activities. New people are other people who are staying sober one day at a tie. The things that change will be new, healthy activities and other changes that enhance your life. Friends in recovery can help you find new interests.

In recovery, your sponsor is a significant relationship. This person can guide you through the 12 steps and teach you to stay sober a day at a time.

You’ll also make new friends the longer you stay sober. Try to hang around with people who have been sober longer than you. If you’re friends with only new people like yourself, you may struggle if they relapse. On the other hand, having a good mix of friends in recovery can help you stay strong and give you experience to draw on when you’re feeling vulnerable.

Sober Living Can Help

If you or somebody you love is looking for a structured living situation that supports a new lifestyle in recovery, sober living can be a great option. When you live in a sober living home, you’ll meet and be around people who are focused on recovery and their new way of life. You’ll gain a community and also have the supports in place you need to stay sober.

Learn more about our sober living options by calling us at 760-216-2077.

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