The world is full of temptation. Some of us can go through life having a cigarette once a year, a few beers a month, some can even experiment with drugs and never feel the need to do it again. If you have already been through addiction and recovery once, then you know your limitations. Most people don’t, in fact, discover precisely where their weaknesses lie, so while it was a tough lesson, you can yourself lucky in that regard. So now that you know your limitations, now that you know your weaknesses, and your strengths, you already have a solid foundation for spotting a new potential addiction when you see it.
Not Every Addiction Seems Immediately Dangerous
We probably don’t need to tell you that addiction is not limited strictly to dangerous drugs and alcohol. If you’re going to choose a drug to do every single day, marijuana is certainly safer than cocaine or opiates. But, when you spend all day every day as high as you can possibly get, other areas of your life are still going to suffer. Even a healthy addiction can do more harm than good, and addiction can take the form of, well, just about anything. For instance:
- Video games
- Online gaming
- “Softer” drugs like coffee and marijuana
Are All Addictions Bad?
This is just a list of common addictions, and yes, some of them, like running, are healthy. Even food addiction can be healthy if you’re eating well and exercising, and addiction to work at least makes you money rather than costing you money. The problem is not so much the activity itself as your relationship with the activity. Is it costing you time you’d like to spend with friends and family? Is it interfering with other areas of your life? Is it a healthy habit, or a dangerous compulsion? Luckily, you should remember what it was like the first time you developed an addiction, how to spot the signs and keep yourself in check, but it’s not always easy to be objective about your own behavior.
Ask Someone Who Can Be Objective
If you have a friend who’s always able to give you some tough love when you need it, you can ask them to keep an eye on you. It’s a good idea to pursue new hobbies and interests following recovery, so as you’re exploring these avenues, you can check in with your friend now and then and ask if you’re showing any familiar patterns.
Meaningful Pursuits Vs. Addiction
You’ve got to fill your time with something, right? That’s all we can really do on this Earth. Truth be told, the line between addiction and a healthy pursuit can be blurry. A passion and an addiction sound almost the same on paper. If you’re a bit of a bookworm, maybe you spend a lot of your disposable income on books, and you spend most weekend alone in your room reading. That sounds a lot like being a drug addict or an alcoholic, and yet it’s not really the same thing. It’s not always easy to tell the difference, but generally speaking it comes down to this: Do you control it, or does it control you? If you’re concerned that your routine is less a healthy habit and more of an addiction, take a day off and see how you feel.
Moderation in all things is the key. If you have a new routine that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol, and it’s a routine that you really enjoy, if it’s helping you to meet like-minded individuals and if you find it fulfilling, there’s no reason to quit just because you’re worried it might be growing into an addiction. But, pace yourself, keep an eye out for familiar patterns, and make sure that you’re the one in control. Developing good habits is part of living a successful life, and keeping those habits under control is how you keep them from becoming addictions. If you love spending all your free time at the gym, there’s really nothing wrong with that as long as you know how to turn it off and relax when appropriate. And be patient with yourself. Just because you completed treatment doesn’t mean you’re magically cured, so go forth with the understanding that a tendency towards compulsion is something you taper off.
Trading one addiction for another is a common occurrence post-rehab. By making yourself aware, you can prevent going down the rabbit hole and stay tuned in to your recovery.