When a person falls into addiction, it is common for multiple substances to be used in addictive behaviour. These secondary addictions can manifest in two ways:
- Co-Morbid Addiction: When the primary and secondary addictions are occurring at the same time. For example, someone addicted to drugs might also be struggling with a gambling or sex addiction simultaneously.
- Cross Addiction: This term refers to the situation where the primary addiction is replaced with the secondary addiction. For example, a person gives up marijuana and starts smoking tobacco cigarettes instead.
While these secondary addictions don’t have the severity of the primary addiction, they can still have a negative impact on your health. Examples of secondary addictions include:
- Food Addiction: Turning to food as a way to pacify the cravings that you are experiencing. Often, people in recovery overindulge in sweet treats when they have a desire for a drink or drug use. Did you know that sugar can stimulate the same pleasure centers in the brain that are affected by drug use? This information makes it easy to see why sugar is a fallback addiction in recovery. Unfortunately, the consumption of junk food and unhealthy treats can have a negative impact on the waistline and lead to a long list of chronic diseases.
- Cigarette Addiction: Another common problem is that a person turns to cigarettes as a stimulant to replace drug or alcohol use. While cigarettes don’t offer the same high that is available from harder substances, the nicotine content can have an impact on mood management and more. Nicotine has addictive properties that can be hard to overcome, and you will likely face the long road to recovery again if you use cigarettes as a substitute for other addictions.
While food and cigarettes are two common addictions that pop up as a secondary problem, many other secondary issues might be experienced as well:
- Sex addiction
- Pornography addiction
- Video gaming addiction
- Exercise addiction
- Shopping addiction
- Caffeine addiction
- Work addiction
- Gambling addiction
- Eating disorders (anorexia, binge eating, bulimia, and more)
Why Fallback Addictions are Just as Dangerous as the Primary Addiction
Even though food and cigarettes might be socially acceptable, it doesn’t mean that these things should be used as a fallback for another addiction. Replacing one addiction with another addiction means that you are continuing to maintain the addictive tendencies… which could potentially lead back to the primary addiction once again. The best solution is to overcome these patterns of addiction so that you can live your life free of habits and patterns that are driving your thoughts and decisions.
Addressing the Underlying Problems
The right pathway for recovery from drugs and alcohol is the life changes that lead you away from the addictive behaviours. Often, there is an underlying issue that drives a person to engage in addiction. Successful rehab will help the person identify these core issues so that the problem can be treated at a foundational level. Then, it is time to implement tools that change patterns and behaviours, helping to disrupt the mistakes that feed into the cycle of addiction.
The principles are the same if you are just stepping onto the path of addiction recovery, or you have successfully overcome a harder addiction and looking for solutions to get past a secondary addiction. Tapping into addiction recovery resources can be the best way to create a better future so that you can avoid the common mistakes that keep you trapped.