Deciding to finally deal with addiction and beginning the journey towards recovery can be rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Often, when people stop feeding into their pattern of behavior, they are often tempted to pick up another habit that will replace their current addiction, sometimes as an attempt to avoid relapse of their primary substance. However, when one vice is replaced with another, it is called a replacement addiction. It can also be known as a substitute addiction or a cross addiction, as each term simply reflects the idea that one dangerous pattern is replaced by another.
Replacement addictions may seem alluring when deciding to make a change as big as a commitment to recovery, as perhaps the changes represent a legal version of your past vice (nicotine), something thought to be a step-down from previous addictions (moving from opioids to alcohol), or have even taken you in a different direction altogether (as with excessive exercise, gambling, or binge eating). It is essential to resist the temptation, as these behaviors represent only an attempt to compensate for the change.
Ultimately, in engaging in a replacement addiction, someone is still using an outside force or action to regulate their inner state, which points to a need to more closely examine the function of these behaviors.
Resist the Urge
Resisting the urge to compensate for a lost addiction by starting another harmful habit is pivotal in your recovery. It’s common for people in recovery to bargain with themselves and justify smoking cigarettes or using electronic cigarettes in an attempt to cope with the change. Although nicotine may be seen as a less dangerous substance than many others, it is still harmful and extremely addictive.
Starting a new harmful habit only creates new problems. It’s not helpful to overcome an outstanding hurdle, just to set up another one in front of you intentionally. Often, even, it is a mask for gaining true recovery knowledge and skills, such as distress tolerance and emotional regulation. Again, nicotine may seem harmless, but it is one of the most addictive chemicals known. Nicotine is placed into products in an attempt to hook the user, not to help them recover from another addiction.
Not only is nicotine extremely addictive, but it’s also terrible for your health. Nicotine has been shown to have a wide array of detrimental health effects, as well as symptoms that can increase irritability, dependency, and depression if you ever try to quit.
Nicotine has been shown to constrict blood vessels, which increases blood pressure and raises the chance of the user having a heart attack or other severe condition. For those that smoke and drink alcohol simultaneously, the risks are greater: combined, their usage is thought to cause approximately 80 percent of cases of cancer of the mouth and throat in men and about 65 percent in women.
Healthy Recovery Methods
While on your way to recovery, it can be beneficial to find a few useful coping techniques that you can use to handle your addiction. There are hundreds of ways to cope with a challenge in life, and it doesn’t help for you to choose one that harms your body and stalemates your chances of recovery.
Instead of resorting to smoking, you can try spending some time with a friend, exercising every morning or night, or reading a book series that you’re interested in. Although these things don’t provide a chemical that temporarily relaxes you, they provide lifelong fulfillment and work to improve your physical and mental health. Look for something that interests you and gives you a sense of accomplishment to help keep your mind off of any negative thoughts.
Nicotine use is prevalent and may be deceiving to some. Don’t be tricked into thinking that starting a nicotine addiction is a reasonable way to cope with a drug or alcohol habit. Whenever you have an urge to relapse, turn instead to your support network, spend time doing something that you enjoy, and seek out professionals to aid in your recovery.