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.

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.

Doctors prescribe many medications to help with mental health disorders, including anxiety disorders and PTSD. Some anxiety medications, however, are also highly addictive. People who become dependent on drugs like Xanax or Klonopin may develop a tolerance and need more medication to get the same effects. Some people who have taken these drugs long-term may end up abusing them.

Long-term use, and increased dosages, can create a physical dependence on the drug. A person with a substance use disorder may take larger amounts of the medication than prescribed. It's recommended that people with a substance use disorder steer clear of prescription anxiety medications that are also addictive.

Which Types of Prescription Anxiety Medications Are Addictive?

First of all, benzodiazepines, such as Xanax are highly addictive. Other drugs that are not prescribed as often for anxiety, such as sedatives like Valium, also have the potential for abuse or addiction. These classes of drugs, when taken in large amounts and stopped suddenly, can also cause withdrawal effects like fevers, shaking, or even seizures or heart palpitations.

Many people initially take the prescribed amount of a drug to get help with their anxiety. Drugs like benzos or sedatives can create peaceful or even euphoric feelings in the user. It’s not surprising that these effects can cause a person to take more than prescribed.

Anti-anxiety pills can help people cope with anxiety, but sometimes they become the only coping mechanism. They also stop working so well. Addiction to a drug can cause you to experience intense anxiety when you are in withdrawal. This can create a cycle of substance use that it feels hard to escape.

 

Alternative Methods For Coping With Anxiety

When a person quits using a benzo or sedative to help with their anxiety, there are other methods for treating their anxiety. Prescription drugs like Lexapro are helpful for anxiety and depression and do not cause any euphoric feelings. A psychiatrist is best qualified to help with medication changes. There are also therapy groups and methods such as mindfulness that can help you begin to work through anxiety.

Getting sober and no longer abusing substances will help you live with less anxiety. In treatment or 12-step groups, you’ll learn new coping skills. Therapy can help you learn more about your anxiety, cope with anxiety and begin to practice more healthy coping skills.

Stay Focused On Sober Living

Many people who want to stay sober find refuge in recovery communities like sober homes. In a sober living situation, you’ll be part of a group of peers on the recovery journey. Structure, camaraderie, and therapy can help you stay on course as you learn to live life substance-free.

Learn more about sober living 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.

Addiction is a problem throughout the country, and California is no exception. Much of the focus around the country has been placed on fentanyl use. After all, fentanyl overdoses outrank all other drug addiction deaths. However, meth addiction has been rising steadily in the past several years. As a result, overdoses have been increasing as well.

Meth’s Growing Popularity

Pop culture such as the popular show Breaking Bad has helped glorify meth use even as it portrayed characters stuck in horrific cycles of addiction. As pop culture brought a resurgence of popularity to meth, cartels have created more pure products as a result. This has made meth more addictive and more likely to cause an overdose.

According to the California Overdose Dashboard, deaths from illicit psychostimulants such as methamphetamine increased more than 250 percent between 2008 and 2015. California is, after all, a popular state to traffic drugs through. The Central Valley is considered one of the most active meth markets in the US. Some of the meth is manufactured in California, but now it is often more likely to have been made in Mexico and distributed through trafficking networks.

Meth and Fentanyl: A Fatal Combination

Drug dealers often use fentanyl as an adulterant to other drugs to make it more addictive or more potent. For inexperienced opioid users, this can be a fatal decision. It’s caused people to overdose on drugs like meth or cocaine more often. Combining uppers with downers is also more likely to cause a heart attack.

Many people who take meth with fentanyl don’t know that they’re doing it. However, some meth users also use other hard drugs like heroin or fentanyl.

Many harm reduction proponents recommend all drugs users consider acquiring Naloxone, an opioid reversal drug. Some people even use fentanyl testing strips to test for the presence of fentanyl in other drugs.

Help With Sober Living

Are you or somebody you love looking for a living situation that helps you stay sober? We can help! Our sober living homes offer structure, safety, recovery, and community. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help at 760-216-2077.

Young people in San Diego County, like around the US, have a problem with fentanyl. They’re not using it on purpose but instead are experimenting with drugs that somehow contain it. This is one reason younger people, including teenagers, are now dying at record numbers from overdose deaths.

Fentanyl is a drug typically used for people in severe pain, such as stage 4 cancer. It is also used as a sedative for surgeries. According to the CDC, the drug itself is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin.

And now America has a fentanyl problem – not large amounts of people addicted to it, but large amounts of people dying after accidentally using it.

Fentanyl Overdoses Are Getting Younger

Roneet Lev, an emergency room physician at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, California, told Bloomberg that most of the overdose deaths she’s seen in teens are accidental overdoses. One of her young patients, 14 years old, died from a fentanyl overdose.

“The problem is both supply and demand,” she said. “There’s already a lot of fentanyl coming into our market, and now we have a pandemic where people are isolated and not working, or not in school. These teenagers probably don’t have a substance use disorder, they’re experimenting, making a bad choice, and they end up dead.”

Education And Prevention Efforts

Many cities and nonprofits say that harm reduction is an integral part of tackling the opioid epidemic. After all, many of the young people who are dying don’t even mean to take fentanyl. They often believe they’re taking a pill such as Percocet, Adderall, Ecstacy, etc. It may be the first time they have ever taken a drug at all.

Many law enforcement agencies are trying to get the word out about counterfeit pills and the dangers of fentanyl.

Some nonprofits offer fentanyl testing strips as a harm reduction measure that can test drugs for the presence of fentanyl. Then, the user can decide if they want to take it or flush it. Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, is also available to people who use opioids and other concerned community members. Carrying this drug can help reverse fatal overdoses, but when it’s a drug like fentanyl, reversal may require multiple doses of Narcan.

Staying Sober in Sober Housing

If you or somebody you love needs a safe living space to continue their recovery journey, sober housing may be the answer. We have an excellent, enthusiastic, peaceful environment where you can learn to live life on its terms, substance-free. Call us to learn more about our programs 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.

Everyone has done things in life that they regret. People who live with mental health disorders or addiction often struggle with self-esteem and self-worth. You may have done something that hurt yourself or others in the course of your addiction. Maybe you feel anger or self-loathing when you think about the past. If so, it’s time to let go of that self-hatred and start thinking about the future. Forgiving yourself can be the first step to becoming the person you want to be.

Why Are You So Hard On Yourself?

Like many people in recovery, you may be hard on yourself. People who struggle with addiction often carry guilt and shame.

Addiction can change who you are, how you act, and how the world perceives you.

Maybe you lied, cheated, or stole from others. Perhaps you acted out in a sexual way that made you feel ashamed. Addiction can poke a lot of holes in a person’s moral fabric. Remember – it’s a disease of the brain – and as such, it can change the way you act, react or feel about things.

You’re not responsible for your disease, but you are responsible for your recovery.

Powerlessness and Forgiveness

You are powerless over the past. You are powerless over your addiction. The only thing you can control is what actions you take in the future. And today, you are in recovery, being the best person you can be.

It’s time to stop beating yourself up and start letting go of the past. The future, after all, is a blank slate. In recovery, you can make better decisions. So, just for today, be the best person you can be. Remind yourself that you are doing this, even when you feel low.

Taking suggestions from others in recovery can help you begin to forgive yourself. Once you learn how to forgive yourself, you will also be more forgiving of others. But you have to let yourself begin the healing process and stay sober.

Being a Good Person, Just for Today

As a person in recovery, living a day at a time is a survival skill. So just for today, you can stay sober and focus on being the best person you can be.

You are in the process of changing. It won’t happen overnight. But by working in a recovery program and getting guidance from others, you will eventually not only learn to forgive yourself but also earn the forgiveness of people you’ve wronged. (Asking forgiveness from others is much later in the 12 steps.)

Be the best person you can be today – it’s what you can do. You don’t have to do anything more than stay sober and try your best to be a good person.

Be kind to people, hold doors for neighbors, and stay sober just for today. It’s okay to make mistakes – don’t give up! Every day sober is a new opportunity to learn to be the best person you can. Making mistakes is part of the process. How else would you learn?

Consider Sober Living

Sober housing provides an intimate, recovery-focused environment where you can focus on your well-being and future. You’ll learn to live a day at a time in a supportive, structured living environment.

If you or somebody you love needs structure and support in their living environment, recovery housing is an option. Call us to learn more about how it works at 760-216-2077.

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 many people in recovery, the idea of "anonymous" recovery feels beneficial. After all, there is still some stigma attached to addiction. Not everyone deserves to know about your recovery, and that's okay. Some people can be insensitive or stubborn about their wrong beliefs. Even members of your family!

While the FDA now recognizes addiction as a disorder of the brain, there's still a lot of myths out there. Sometimes these stereotypes can be hurtful. It’s understandable you may be nervous talking about your recovery with people in your family.

Remember that Family Can Be A Stressor

Family can be an excellent support network or a trigger that fills you with intense feelings. Usually, a family falls somewhere in between, even if you're estranged. Many people have a few family members that they trust or talk to. Other members of the family may not be people you trust or want to confide in. If you're going to talk about recovery, it's important to make sure you're with somebody you trust.

You choose what you share with whom. And if you are at a family event and you're feeling triggered, it's okay to make an exit plan. Staying clean and sober is the most important task for a person in recovery day-to-day. Your sobriety is precious, and you deserve to keep it. So use the tools you've learned in recovery; pick up the phone and call your sponsor, text a recovery friend, or look up the closest 12-step meeting and grab rideshare to get to it.

Talking About Your Addiction

Take the time to set up a meeting with your loved one where you can have privacy.

It's fine to limit what you share with your loved ones. They don't need to know about the desperate things you did during addiction. However, now is not the time to speak about amends you make; that comes later in recovery when you are ready for the ninth step.

Here are some things you may be willing to share with them:

  • Your drug of choice and how long you've been using it.
  • What kind of trouble it has caused you or others. (Such as DUI charges, lost jobs, etc.)
  • How long you've been sober and if you've ever relapsed.
  • If you have completed a treatment program or are in sober housing.
  • Is there anything that your family member can do to help you?
  • What kinds of challenges are you facing?
  • Do you attend 12-step meetings? How do you feel about your sponsor>

Your family members may simply be curious or they may misconceptions about addiction. If they say something mean or hurtful, it's okay to end the conversation. They may be coming from a place of hurt or past experiences with addicted people. It's not your job to argue with them about the science of addiction. Sure, you can get their email to forward them some information. But you don't have to prove that your addiction is a serious disease that deserves treatment.

Consider Sober Housing

Many people who have attended either outpatient or inpatient treatment transition to sober housing once they complete the program.  It's a place to start to spread your wings and grow! There's both structure and independence, and you'll have the added benefit of living with people who are working towards similar goals.

Learn more about our programs and how we can help by calling us at 760-216-2077. We're happy to talk about your options.

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