It is a common occurrence for alcoholics who sober up from alcohol to think that they can still use drugs. Conversely, many addicts who stop using drugs believe that they can still consume alcohol. Such misconceptions have led to countless relapses among people working programs of recovery. It is safe to say that if someone has developed an addiction to one substance or action, the potential for becoming addicted to another is exponentially increased, and the likelihood that a person will return to the addiction of choice is great.
People with a propensity for developing harmful relationships with things that give them pleasure should be wary of all mind altering substance/actions. Many addicts and alcoholics, upon sobering up, often have cravings for a release which can lead to harmful behaviors riding a wave of impulse. While a large percentage of alcoholics/addicts in early recovery know they cannot and should not swap booze for drugs and vice versa, many will turn to sugary foods and drink, promiscuous sexual activity, et al. Such behaviors can lead to new habits that can morph into an addiction, and potentially lead to an eventual relapse to their substance of choice.
It is vital that people who are new to recovery be extra vigilant when it comes to the activities they find themselves craving. In addition to walking you through the “steps,” sponsors are excellent sounding boards for determining if what you’re doing, or thinking of doing, is conducive to a sound program of recovery.
There are reasons why many alcoholics crave sugar upon sobering up; alcohol is loaded with sugar and carbohydrates. Nine times out of ten if you attend a 12-step meeting you will likely see cookies and coffee (with plenty of sugar to accompany the drink) on the center table, you will see a number of people with an energy drink in their hand. While the use of alcohol actually lowers one’s blood sugar level, the drink is chock-full of sugar; when many people stop drinking, after years of continued use, they can be faced with an insatiable craving from sugar. Alcoholics and addicts carry the D2 dopamine receptor, the gene that identifies addiction; sugar addicts share the same gene. If sugar cravings are not kept in check, it can lead to overeating, which is accompanied by its own list side effects.
Sugar is one example; there are many other addictions that can fill in for one’s substance of choice. It is for that reason that recovering addicts need to be especially conscientious of their behaviors and if you are noticing unhealthy trends developing, it is crucial that you speak with your sponsor or therapist. Recovery is about progress, not switching one harmful behavior for another.
At PACE Recovery Center our treatment team works with our clients to examine cultural, social and personal relapse triggers and develop a relapse prevention plan with acquired and practiced skills. Relapse analysis and relapse prevention are extremely effective with clients who have substance addictions, compulsive behaviors, and mental health disorders. That is why relapse prevention is an essential component of our men’s addiction treatment program.