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Swapping Addiction for Unhealthy Habits

I successfully made it through withdrawals and had been sober for a little over a month. After what felt like the most difficult part, the initial act of getting sober, I was ready to move on to bigger and better things. I had no urges to use any substances and was actually beginning to feel good. Then, the cycle started itself again. Only I wasn’t using drugs or drinking alcohol.

I was officially addicted to Mountain Dew.

Defining Bad Habits

Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the difference between a bad habit and a good habit, or even correctly define the word “addiction.” We usually immediately think the worst when it comes to addiction: drugs, alcohol, porn, gambling…the list goes on and on. Because of this, we tend to overlook the everyday substances that can be just as terrible and unhealthy as any other addiction. Overindulgence in almost anything can be unhealthy so the first step to not swapping one addiction for another is to separate your “bad” habits from your “good” ones. For instance, while exercise is a great way to relieve stress and stay in shape, exercising or meditating for five to six hours a day can overwork your body and be entirely unhealthy for you. In moderation, most things are generally okay–minus drugs and alcohol of course.

My New Addictions

Soon after my sobriety I started drinking at least two liters of Mountain Dew a day. It was literally to the point that I had a bottle of soda sitting on my night stand without a cup. I had felt great after sobering up until I realized my body was entirely fatigued and worn out. That’s when I realized that I had been overindulging on soda for the past month and I had done nothing but swap heroin for soda. Obviously soda is nowhere near as deadly as heroin, but it still isn’t exactly beneficial either. As I began to lay off the soda, I noticed another swap happening–this time with candy. It took me awhile before I realized that you could change anything into an addiction if you consume or participate in it excessively. Addiction is defined as being addicted to a particular thing, substance or activity; nowhere in the definition does it distinctly say drugs or alcohol.

Warning Signs

As I paid more attention to the warning signs from my addictive personality, I became aware of things that could cause me to fall back into the same vicious cycle. While soda, candy and sweets are certainly great treats to have, becoming addicted to food, especially unhealthy ones, can be as dangerous to your health as anything else. I also paid close attention to how many cigarettes I was smoking and noticed that I was going through twice as many packs as I did before.

A couple activities that don’t immediately come to mind when people hear the word addiction are working and meetings. Overworking yourself or working an abundant number of overtime hours can do intense damage to your body, especially if you’re in recovery. Not only is your body still recovering from years of substance abuse, but overexhaustion is extremely dangerous even for the average person. When I say meetings, in no way am I challenging the fact that meetings work wonders. The first time I tried to get sober, I literally exchanged heroin for meetings. Of course, going to meetings will not kill me, which was the initial step I needed to take, but it also drove me into exhaustion. I wasn’t there because I wanted or needed to be, I was there because I thought that going would keep me from thinking about drugs. Well, it didn’t. I was drained and eventually got so bored of the repetition that I went out and used. Do not let yourself forget that all things that may be positive are only good in moderation.

It’s easy to let any normal habit slip into a bad one. Having an extra scoop of ice cream or running an extra mile on the treadmill is not going to kill you, as we know drugs and alcohol will, but anything done in excess can take its toll on your body. Only you can define what a healthy habit is for yourself and being aware of the bad ones can keep them from rolling into another unhealthy addiction.

Cassandra Huerta is a freelance writer who lives in an extremely small Michigan town and lives life one day at a time. She enjoys regularly entertaining her six-month-old daughter and can thank her wonderful fiance and coffee for all of her work.

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