Relapse risk can be the biggest fear that many recovering addicts face each day. Choosing substitute addictions can put the recovery process on shaky grounds and end up driving the addict back into a place better left alone. The new addiction may seem harmless, but all addictions cause problems in the lives of the people they affect.
Recovery starts one step at a time. It may be that each step reveals a new issue that needs to be addressed. As long as the process continues forward then recovery will become a reality. Choosing to step into a new addiction after leaving a past addiction could cause the whole process to blow up on everyone around.
Potential Substitute Addictions that Cause a Relapse Risk
• Food addictions – many people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction issues will turn to food as an alternative. The same chemical release of dopamine can occur when you eat certain foods and it may be different hooks for different people. The problem with using food as a crutch is that a crutch can fall out from under you. When that crutch gets pulled away then you have a relapse risk due to that loss.
• Computer – the internet has taken behavioral addictions to a new level. The ability to access just about anything at any given time of the day has kicked open a world of potential substitute addictions. Some recovering addicts will pass the time playing online games or just surfing the web. The enticements that the internet holds could push the recovering addict into a world of additional troubles.
Getting caught up in pornography or gambling are just two of the risks that might be faced. These choices would be just a slippery slope away from the relapse risk of returning to old habit.
• Risky behavior – stepping out on a ledge (or jumping from a cliff, a plane or any other number of “adventure type activities) can give you an adrenaline rush that becomes a substitute addiction for the negative behaviors of drug or alcohol addiction. The biggest risk with these activities is that they can lead to the need for more challenging risks. The additional challenges can end up winding back around to the life of drugs and alcohol that the addict was trying to recover from in the first place.
Substituting one addiction with another is never the better path to take. There are really no good addictions. Even an addiction to exercise can cause health and relationship issues. Experts will tell you that an addiction takes control of your life and any time you are out of control it is not a good thing.
The recovery process from one addiction may end up revealing additional addictions.
That is why the process is one step at a time. Uncovering new problems is different from choosing to step out into a new addiction to try and let go of the old one. The better path to addiction recovery avoids the substitute addictions that might run a relapse risk in the life of the recovering addict.