Avoiding Compulsive Behavior

With restrictions in place across the country, you have likely had to completely transform the way you go about maintaining productivity in your day. Having to stay indoors for so long might be causing you irritability, frustration, anxiety, and stress. These kinds of emotions are damaging to your recovery, often promoting compulsive behavior that leads to bad habits.

Before you succumb to these bad habits by replacing or creating new addictions to cope, try to recognize these behaviors, and make the necessary changes to bring balance back to your recovery.

Why This Happens

Even after you have stopped using drugs or alcohol, the reward center of your brain that’s responsible for creating dopamine still remains active. This is because you have conditioned your brain to view drugs and alcohol as a reward. When you remove the substance associated with reward, your brain will look for something else to fulfill this need — food is a frequent substitute.

You might have faced and overcome this challenge early on in recovery. But now that you are spending more time at home, it’s possible that because of boredom or stress, you have triggered this craving again and find yourself managing your feelings by overindulging.

The Signs of Compulsive Behavior

When compulsion leads to addiction, these addictions interfere with your thoughts, time, energy, health, and money. Being aware of your compulsive habits now could help prevent creating another addiction. Understand that compulsive behavior in recovery is not limited to poor dietary choices. It can transfer to working too much, exercising too much, watching too much TV, watching pornography, online shopping, or gambling — there are many ways to turn an activity into addictive behavior.

You need to be aware of what you are doing and how often you are doing it. Be honest with yourself. If you have multiple packages that contain unnecessary purchases showing up on your doorstep, you may already have a shopping addiction. Acknowledge the places in your life where you are indulging too much.

Is It an Activity or an Addiction?

Another way to determine whether or not you are developing an addiction is to question how you respond to the activity. Is it something that causes instant gratification? Is it a quick relief when bouts of stress and/or boredom arise? Has it become a regular part of your day? Has it interfered with other responsibilities? Are you still participating in the act knowing that the consequences could result in something worse?

You are vulnerable at this time. Seeking out an addiction that seems less harmful than using drugs or alcohol does not mean it should be taken lightly. These actions encourage negative behaviors that will diminish your self-control. Therefore, you must recognize any addictive act as a threat to your recovery.

Stay Connected with Others

Addiction usually occurs because there is a lack of connection. In other words, these behaviors are a means to escape from the stresses and feelings you have throughout the day. Just because these times call for social distancing, they do not encourage disconnection — in fact, the world has never been more encouraged to try to help one another.

You have to remember that there is meaning in your life—you are important to your friends and family, and they are important to you. Take time out of your day to reach out and connect with people. It’s safe to open up and express your fears and stresses — chances are they are feeling similar fears and stresses as well. This way, you can effectively cope and strengthen your bonds with friends and family instead of deferring to meaningless activity.

Are There Positive Addictions?

While there might not be such a thing as a positive addiction, there are many activities that are less likely to lead to destructive behaviors. These include reading, writing, gardening, drawing, playing music — any activity that promotes creativity. You connect with these acts because they are more abstract and allow you the freedom to expand your thoughts.

It is your creativity and the success that comes from your efforts that will satisfy the reward center of your brain, rather than the object. These kinds of outlets will provide a longer-lasting way to cope, rather than the short bursts of satisfaction that come from meaningless acts.

With anything, there needs to be a balance. It is certainly okay to shop or spend the better part of the day watching movies, as long as these activities do not take control over your day on a regular basis. Your true reward is your sobriety and the friends and family you have because of it. Take time to recognize your behaviors. Then create a plan to ration what, when, and how long you participate in these activities, so you can turn them in a means for motivation rather than reliance.

If you are still struggling, it’s time to get help. True Recovery is sensitive to the needs of every individual and offers 24/7 care to help find the correct treatment for you. Don’t wait. To learn more, call us today at (866) 399-6528.