Outside Issues: Addictive Behaviors


Not every addiction seems as immediately troubling as substance addiction, yet they are not always as innocuous or harmless as one might believe. Indeed, many actions and behaviors can prove to be as addictive and destructive as alcoholism or drug addiction. For those of us who suffer from alcoholism or addiction and are working a recovery program, it may be easier for us to spot the other behaviors and patterns that fall in line with our own disease. But it isn’t always so easy to see — sometimes the disease can disguise itself.

Straightforward alcoholism and drug addiction are fairly easy to spot, even if they may be hard to admit to. Luckily, we have the 12-Step program of action to help us find freedom and recovery from our disease. But what about our other destructive, or even addictive, behaviors? Is it possible that while we are working a 12-Step program, we may find ourselves becoming addicted to gambling, sexual activity, or even food? It is certainly possible, though it doesn’t happen to everybody. Just as people who don’t have alcoholism or addiction can find themselves helplessly hooked on things like gaming or shopping, those of us who are in recovery can struggle with addictive behaviors as well.

Admitting and Understanding Addictive Behaviors

Addictive behaviors are incredibly diverse in their range and variety. What may be a negative pattern for one person might not be the same for others. With any addiction, just like alcoholism and substance abuse, only we can really diagnose ourselves. Is there something in our lives that we do almost every day, even though we wish we didn’t? Is there some action or behavior or pattern that is causing us problems and we wish we could stop, but we can’t? That sounds an awful lot like our alcoholism or substance addiction, doesn’t it? Only we can diagnose ourselves if an action or behavior has become addictive, so we will need to do some serious reflecting.

Surprisingly, modern science has begun to understand that the dopamine produced in our brains is one of the chief factors in addiction-like behaviors. People can literally become addicted to things like food, gambling, social media, pornography, and a whole host of other seemingly standard behaviors. It’s easy to tell if there’s something we participate in against our will. If we go to the casino or eat a gallon of ice cream every night even though we desperately wish we wouldn’t — we want to stop, but we just can’t — then we may have crossed the invisible line into addiction territory. There is a lot of misunderstanding and stigma around the science of addiction. But for those who have recovered from alcoholism or substance addiction, the familiar symptoms might be easier to spot and to understand.

We Know the Layers of Addiction

What perhaps begins as a way to blow off steam or escape gradually becomes something we are compelled beyond our control to engage in, no matter what the consequences may be — a cycle that is all too familiar to alcoholics and addicts, in or out of recovery. It’s not too difficult to see how behaviors that affect our emotional or physical condition are something we could become addicted to. After all, it happened with drugs and/or alcohol already. But for those of us who are admittedly alcoholic or addicted to drugs, we understand there are more layers to the disease. It’s not a simple dopamine craving. The physical allergy that develops, the mental obsession that keeps us imprisoned, and the spiritual malady that we must address before we can recover.

We are very lucky to have this information because it points us right back to the solution — the 12-Steps. The 12-Step program of recovery has already been adapted for those who suffer from addiction to nicotine, food, sex, gambling, and many other behaviors and substances. Whatever behavior we may become addicted to, it is likely there is already a successful 12-Step group practicing recovery and gaining their freedom nearby. We only need to seek them out. Those of us who are in recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction know that once we find them and ask for help with our addictive behavior, this solution can work in our lives. All that’s left is to work the 12-Steps and stay active in the program.

Seek as Much Help as You Need

It is fairly common for people to be members of more than one 12-Step group at a time. We know the solution works, and we may have more than one issue that requires the solution. Think of a person who enters recovery and takes up smoking cigarettes for the first time. Lots of people smoke at meeting halls. It’s social, and it helps “take the edge off.” A few months into their recovery, they receive a daily reprieve from their alcoholism — but now they’re hooked on nicotine. Their spiritual awakening has them wanting to live a long, happy, healthy life. So they join Nicotine Addicts Anonymous to leave cigarettes behind as well, which is a great idea!

In truth, many of us in recovery experience the disease in more than one manifestation. We substitute food for the drink or any other combination of things. It is perfectly common to seek out a 12-Step fellowship that focuses on each of our unique iterations of alcoholism and addiction. It is also just as common for us to find the fellowship where we feel most at home and work the 12-Steps again on each of our troubling issues. Either way, it’s an effective approach. The solution is the 12-Steps, and they will work on whatever we apply them to. 

Alcoholism and addiction are a commonly fatal disease, though they need not be. There is a solution that saves lives every day. The 12-Steps are designed to produce a necessary psychic change and a vital spiritual experience that will free the sufferer, making them happily and usefully whole again. The only requirement is that the sufferer must be willing to work all 12-Steps honestly and with an open mind. Addiction can take many physical forms, from less harmful substances to seemingly normal behaviors that eventually consume your life. These addictions can also be addressed by applying the 12-Step program of recovery. At Jaywalker Lodge, we specialize in helping men who have tried recovery before and found themselves unable to make it last. We have been in your shoes, and we now enjoy long-term recovery from alcoholism and addiction. If you are willing, we are ready to help. Call us now at (866) 529-9255.

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