When getting sober from sex addiction, it may feel like there is a void in your life. You have to be careful not to try to fill that void with another unhealthy coping mechanism.
Switching addictions is when you get sober from one thing and replace it with another addiction. For example, someone healing from sex addiction may replace it with alcohol. But switching addictions compounds your recovery. This post will tell you how to avoid addiction switching.
Replacing Substance Use Disorder with Sex Addiction
Substance Use Disorder is when you develop a dependency on a particular substance, such as drugs or alcohol. It isn’t too dissimilar from sex addiction. Both result from trying to cope with unresolved trauma. Because you haven’t dealt with the root trauma, you crave a way to feel better. These behaviors and substances generate dopamine, which feels good.
Dopamine is a pleasure chemical released by the brain. Drugs, alcohol, and sexual behaviors all produce dopamine. During treatment for one addiction, you may pick up another habit to replace your original behavior. This cross-addiction, or addiction replacement, is tied to the reward your brain gives you for doing something that feels good. That dopamine surge is what causes you to pursue feel-good activities continuously.
When you’re addicted to either a behavior or a substance, you’re also addicted to the dopamine high. While you undergo treatment for your addiction, you have far less dopamine in your life. This reduction may lead you to face a temporary dopamine deficiency.
The switching of addictions often happens during or after treatment. You’re trying to fill that “lack” in your life. Turning to another unhealthy behavior suggests you’re still healing and need help staying sober.
Why Do People Switch Addictions?
While in recovery and sober, you need a way to maintain your progress without switching addictions. To do this, it’s important to understand what may tempt you.
The idea of becoming sober may cause immense anxiety. You feel like something significant is disappearing from your life, so you feel anxious. You may continue to over-indulge.
Since sex addiction is a coping mechanism learned from trauma, when you experience stress, you enter fight-or-flight mode. Only dopamine can remove you from this mode.
If you have a sex addiction, then sexual pleasure would be your natural conditioned response to stress. When maintaining sobriety from sex, you may want to binge eat, drink alcohol, use drugs, or even gamble. All of these activities will ease the sense of stress by providing you with easily accessible dopamine. Filling that “lack” you perceive.
How to Stop Yourself From Switching Addictions
A critical determinant of success in recovery from addiction is your plan. There are tools you can use to help you prevent relapse or switch addictions.
For a life free from compulsive behavior, keep a list of healthy activities at hand. That way, when you feel tempted to relapse, you can stop yourself quickly.
Activities that assist in recovery include:
- Exercise. Getting outdoors and moving your body can be a healthy way to ease your cravings. Exercise can also release dopamine and other endorphins, which will bring a sense of calm back to your life.
- Meditation. Meditation is a powerful recovery tool. Learn to step outside your cravings. You can look at your behaviors and take a moment of pause. Just pausing to process your thoughts will help stop you from reaching for an addictive substance.
- Spend Time with Loved Ones. Getting a hug from someone you love is an accessible resource for dopamine. Spending time with those you care about can help distract you from your cravings. It also creates a new sense of fullness in your life.
- Get Outdoors. Spending time outside in the fresh air and getting Vitamin D from the sun can help you feel calm and in control.
- Find a New Hobby. Whether it’s something you do alone or with a loved one, hobbies are a great way to spend your time. While learning or honing a technique, you’ll distract yourself from your cravings and increase your self-worth and esteem.
Having a list of activities handy during your recovery can help prevent you from switching addictions during rehab. But, it isn’t always enough by itself.
Treatment for Switching Addictions
If you’ve tried to stop your compulsive behaviors before but haven’t been successful, there usually are two reasons. First, you may not have discovered the root cause of your addiction. The second is that you need support.
Trauma is the root cause of sex addiction. To truly heal, you need to know why you use sex as a coping mechanism. It may be because you have all but erased what has caused your trauma. You push painful memories out of your mind instead of processing them.
Entering lifelong remission from addiction isn’t easy. That is why Begin Again Institute is here to help. By admitting you need help, you can get sober and stay that way.
Getting Help from Begin Again Institute
At Begin Again Institute, we understand the challenges of overcoming addiction. We also understand how easy it may be to switch addictions. Addiction recovery isn’t easy to do alone. Luckily, you don’t have to. Contact us today to get help.