Aug 19, 2013 | By Tim Stoddart

Shifting Addiction: A Question of Balance

Relapse Prevention

Being an addict is more than just ingesting, smoking or shooting a substance.  Early on in recovery, one of the counselors I had worked with explained to me that the actual use of the substance comprised 15% of the addiction picture with the remaining 85% devoted to the mental aspects of addiction. If you think about it, the use of your drug of choice is the end result of chronic cycle of knowing the people and places where you can get your fix of choice, finding ways to obtain the means to achieve your fix, and executing the game plan by any and all means necessary to achieve those ends.

In recovery, we look for ways to break that cycle of thinking and action and look to refocus that energy towards more productive avenues.  For some people, they may lean towards exercise to build the body, mind and spirit.  For others, they may look to strengthen their work ethic to gain better employment and others may turn to art or music.  No matter the activity or vocation, finding balance is the ultimate goal for the recovering person.

shifting addictionsIt can be agreed upon that finding other avenues besides the use and abuse of substances to satisfy our emotional well-being is paramount.  The feeling of “anything is better than what I went through” is common across the board.  However, the addiction to the substance itself is a symptom of what may lie under the surface.  There may be something deeper in the schematic in our brains that may lead us to take a constructive outlet and turn it into an obsession to fill an emotional need.

That is what addiction is in its purest and more simple form—an obsession to fill an emotional need.  While we may have gotten sober, if we haven’t delved into the deeper need why we picked up our preferred poison in the first place we are just simply replacing compulsions.  If a new addiction is formed, we may not see it in the full frontal review right away.  There could be a deeper psychiatric issue such as depression or anxiety that can continue to be perpetuated if not identified and acknowledged.

The main question someone is recovery has to ask themselves is what the motivation is behind the behavior.  Is it a question of finding reward or is it a question of filling an internal issues that if not satisfied can lead to a sense of helplessness?  Also, another question to be asked is if these new avenues of fulfillment are causing any negative consequences.  As stated earlier, the negative consequences of any new obsession or compulsion may not be readily seen because our frame of reference or experience is based on the rituals of our old addiction.  There are common threads and antecedents that are present, but it is dressed up in new clothing.

The best and most efficient way to combat the transfer of addictions and to ultimately achieve life balance is looking at the addiction on a more comprehensive scale.  Again, as stated earlier, the addiction itself may be seen as a symptom for a deeper and more pervasive disorders.  Also, finding and maintaining support networks with the recovery community is essential in keeping on track and in balance.


Tim Powers – bald, tattooed, a business professional by day and rocker by night. Sober by the grace of God since the 8th of May in the year of our Lord 2003. Sharing my stories and myself in order to pay it forward. You can follow me on Twitter @tpowersbass42

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