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Trading Crutches: 5 Dependencies Swapped in Sobriety

Once we earn a little bit of clear-headed sober time, it’s easy to see that active addiction and addictive personalities go hand-in-hand. And for many of us, the urge to substitute one addiction for another comes naturally – especially during early recovery.

Subconscious Swapping

Many people who have stopped drinking or using drugs turn to other behaviors or substances as coping mechanisms without realizing it. Some of us replace a drug addiction with a healthy passion, like athletics or meditation. Others turn to behaviors that are just as detrimental to their health and overall well-being, like smoking. And nowhere is this more evident than in in-patient rehab facilities.

The following list consists of five common “addictions” that can pop up as we work to abstain from drugs and alcohol:

#1 Caffeine

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and regular use does cause mild physical dependence. Withdrawal symptoms include headache and fatigue, and heavy caffeine use causes insomnia, anxiety, stomach problems and elevated blood pressure.

#2 Nicotine/Tobacco

When you smoke a cigarette, nicotine is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and within 10 seconds it reaches the brain. The brain releases adrenaline and dopamine, which creates that buzz of pleasure and energy so many people crave. But, the buzz fades quickly and the body builds up a high tolerance to nicotine, so you need to smoke more cigarettes to get nicotine’s pleasurable effects again and prevent withdrawal.

#3 Junk Food

Junk food helps with cravings early in recovery, because our bodies are used to metabolizing sugars from alcohol and drugs. But, large amounts of sugar actually have similar effects on our brains like heroin and cocaine. These surges of dopamine and sugar are eventually followed by a crash, that leaves us craving more sugar. So, it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet, not only to make us feel better, but to maintain our sobriety in the long-run.

#4 Exercise

Regular exercise has numerous benefits. It improves our mood and self-esteem. But exercise addiction is a very real thing. It’s another form of escapism, or the tendency to seek distraction from reality. By exercising more and more, you build up a tolerance, thus needing more of it to achieve the desired results.

#5 Technology

We may all joke about it, but tech addiction is quickly becoming a prevalent trend. In fact, nomophobia – the fear of being without your smartphone – affects 40 percent of the population! We get it – it’s validating for someone to Tweet us or respond to our videos on YouTube. But having our phones, tablets, iPods or FitBits attached to our hips actually hinders our ability to focus and our creative capabilities. Not to mention, it distracts us from our lives and the actual people around us.

It’s All About Awareness

As addicts we’re prone to take anything to excess, but by being aware of these areas better allow us to monitor and alter our behaviors. Moderation is key, and the more we practice this, the more we’ll be able to enjoy these simple pleasures without taking them overboard.

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