I’m Afraid I’m Engaging in Addictive Behaviors. What Should I Do?

addictive behaviors

Table of Contents

For those of us with alcoholism or addiction, it may be helpful for us to understand that this disease does not limit its symptoms and manifestations to only alcohol and chemical substances. The disease of alcoholism and addiction can take many varied forms. In fact, we may be engaging in alcoholic or addictive behaviors without ever taking a drink or using a drug. Whether we are new or familiar with recovery, things like this can happen. It is common for us to discover that when we are sober, we may still be suffering from the disease — even in recovery. By no means whatsoever does this mean that the program of recovery is not working. No human being is perfect, and the disease we all share is especially tricky and insidious.

If you are sober in recovery but fear that your alcoholism or addiction is taking new forms, there is a lot of information that would be helpful to have on hand. Let’s look at some of the highlights together.


The Nature of the Disease

Alcoholism and addiction are a disease of a threefold nature: the mental obsession, the physical allergy, and the spiritual malady. This means that our disease can manifest mentally, physically, and spiritually (internally). It’s perfectly normal to experience alcoholism or addiction in our thinking, even while we are in recovery. This is why we work the 12-Step program and why we must continue to actively work all 12 Steps on a regular basis. It’s why we attend regular meetings and constantly look for ways to serve others. Our disease never gets cured — we simply get well to the degree that we can partake in the solution.

But alcoholism and addiction is a subtle, clever foe. In continuing to work the 12 Steps and all other aspects of the recovery lifestyle, we root out more and more hiding places for the disease. As we do this, we continue to see more clearly, improve ourselves, and get healthier. Thoughts like “I had no idea that alcoholism was causing this problem” become “If this is my disease, then I already have the solution!” Continuous work in the 12 Steps will reveal more and more ways the disease affects us, but 12th Step work also constantly offers us solutions to those newly illuminated troubles.

The nature of our disease means it can affect any part of our lives and hide itself well. The nature of our solution means it can help any part of our lives while it uncovers the hidden ways that our disease is affecting us. Whatever the problem — new or old, persistent or just a one-time thing — the 12-Step program provides the solution.


Thoughts, Behaviors, and Feelings

It might seem strange to think of our own thoughts, behaviors, and feelings as “alcoholic” or “addict” in nature, but doing one 5th Step inventory with our sponsor clearly shows us how true this is. Because of the nature of our disease, our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings can be manifestations of the disease. Luckily for us, when we find ourselves in situations like these, we can rest assured that we already have a tried-and-true solution. There may be some thoughts, emotions, or feelings that are not manifestations of our disease but still cause us trouble. We should be able to tell the difference when we do our 12-Step work vigorously and honestly on all that troubles us. When something is not a manifestation of our disease, we will want to seek the appropriate solution. For instance, with depression, we may need professional help, therapy, and medicine. But it’s likely that 12-Step work will still increase the effectiveness of these solutions.


Addictive Behaviors

Our actions, too, can become addictive. Certain actions we take may even be informed by or caused by our disease. Usually, addictive behaviors will start to resemble our drinking or drug use in our active disease. We’re sober and in recovery, yes, but we’re hiding certain actions. We start to have a ritual around the behavior. We don’t tell anyone about it, and it starts to dominate our thinking and our free time. These are obvious signs of addictive behavior, but there are a myriad of others. If we are getting a massive dopamine rush out of actions we take in secret, we might have become addicted to that behavior.

If we fear this is the case, remember what the 12 Steps did for our alcoholism and addiction. They can do it again for our addictive behaviors. There are plenty of 12-Step programs already out there for addictive behaviors. We may want to join one of those fellowships or simply reach out to our sponsor. That’s the first action we need to take: we need to ask for help. Then we need to work the 12 Steps and employ the recovery lifestyle on the addictive behavior in question. Honesty and willingness will serve us well in breaking free of any of behaviors or actions that we’ve become addicted to.

Alcoholism and addiction are an insidious disease that can take many forms. Even those in recovery may discover new manifestations of the disease cropping up in the form of addictive thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. This is why we must engage with the solution on a continual basis. The holistic solution for alcoholism and addiction in all its forms is the 12-Step program. This course of spiritual action is designed to produce the necessary psychic change and vital spiritual experience that can bring about freedom and recovery. At Jaywalker Lodge, the 12-Step program is the firm foundation that we were built upon. The solution worked for us and it can work for you, too — as long as you are honest, open-minded, and willing to do the work. We’ll be there to help you every step of the way. If you’re ready to begin your new life in recovery, call Jaywalker Lodge now at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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