While having a look at my Linkedin account a couple of days ago, I came across an interesting discussion. The starting thread was “Are there any forms of addiction which could possibly be considered as being positive in nature e.g. Addiction to work?
Over the last many years, I have had the good fortune of being part of the team that successfully helped and treated people struggling with multiple addictions and negative coping skills. Unfortunately, all too often, people (unknowingly) swap one addiction for another. For instance quitting smoking and then over eating; or starting drinking heavily instead of using food to cope. The list goes on and on in a vicious cycle, but whatever substance is involved, these are all ineffective ways of coping with addictions of any kind. They all tend to serve in the short term (alleviation of painful symptoms), had they not, no one would have continued with these coping behaviors. In the long term, however, none of these help in dealing with the real underlying issues and difficult emotions that are almost always there in the disease of addiction.
It is a common knowledge among people who treat addiction and communities of recovering individuals, the menace of cross addiction (being addicted to multiple substances or behaviors). These individuals have discovered over the years that the use of drugs other than their drug of choice increases their chances of full blown relapse. In academic circles cross addiction is described as the co morbidity of addiction. We have known and seen that alcohol use increases the cravings for cigarettes and vice versa.
This is the tougher part and this is where counseling and life skills training helps to find more effective ways to deal with the situation. It also helps to figure out the underlying addictive behaviors once and for all. It helps to stop the cycle of changing one unhealthy behavior for another and thereby helps in living a better life. Not only it is possible, it is also needed to achieve the goal of true recovery.
Addiction presents itself in more than one way and form. By living and managing in short term, it gets difficult to understand the underlying discomfort such as shame, fears and phobias etc. emotional pain, difficult feelings and the fear of them are the driving forces of addiction but after any addiction or its swapped form is stopped, the doors to healing get opened.