When I stopped using alcohol and drugs and started my recovery journey I found that other compulsive behaviours started to come to the surface. Here’s how my addiction ‘swapped seats’…

Alcohol and drug use were the main ways in which I detached myself from my emotions and the world around me. Coming into recovery and joining AA has helped me stay clean and sober for over a year now, but during that time I’ve noticed that other compulsive behaviours have come up during difficult times, times of emotional distress or when I’m feeling spiritually unwell.

In my early recovery I was smoking and vaping non-stop and went on regular online shopping sprees for things I didn’t need, these were both ways in which I was trying to change the way I felt in light of not being able to drink or use. I have an eating disorder too which I noticed got worse when I was feeling stressed or emotionally unstable.

This isn’t uncommon. When we look to address an addictive behaviour it’s common to hear of people acting out in other areas of their lives to deal with arising emotions and new situations which we are not used to dealing with. I’ve spoken to people who see this play out in other areas such as gambling, food, sex and relationships, shopping, work, exercise and more.

If you experience this, just know that it’s normal and part of the process. While I still struggle with food and smoking from time to time, those behaviours are much less of a problem than they used to be in my early recovery. Over time, as you recover and learn to deal with the reasons you drank or used, and as you begin to reconnect with yourself and your emotions you will hopefully find that you will also see positive changes in these other behaviours as well.

Some of these might need to be addressed in other ways such as therapy, that’s certainly something that I’ve been doing after getting clean and sober which has been a gift. Stopping drinking and using now gives me the chance to also look at these other areas of my life and address them head-on, so that I can live a bigger, fuller and ultimately happier life.