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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

GET CONFIDENTIAL HELP


phone-handsetmenuchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram