drowning in addiction

Trading one addiction for another

Addiction is one insidious beast. It doesn’t just go away because you quit drinking. It instead has a tendency to simply grab onto something else to keep the addiction fuel line going. This all-too-common habit of swapping one addiction another is often referred to as switching seats on the Titanic.

Perhaps you trade your drinking for comfort food, or maybe you turn to gambling or shopping. No matter where you sit on this ill-fated addiction ship, addictive behavior can ultimately sink you.

Trading Alcohol for Food

The combination of addiction and eating disorders is not uncommon. It’s also not uncommon to seek the same type of comfort in mashed potatoes as we used to seek in alcohol. I know of at least one case where a woman gained 100 pounds in her first year of sobriety.

I dabbled with binge eating in early recovery as well, but I had a strategic game plan so I wouldn’t gain tons of weight. Instead of binging on Twinkies, peanut butter and Double Stuff Oreos, I’d actually binge on celery. Miles and miles of celery stalks. Yum. Kind of takes all the fun out of it.

Trading Alcohol for Shopping

True, you do end up with quite a bit of cash once you quit drinking. An estimate on the high cost of drinking pegs the alcohol habit at upwards of $115,000 per year. Even though it can seem you are blessed with a sudden windfall, you may be surprised at how quickly it slips through your fingers

I recall a credit card bill for $3,500, which wouldn’t have been all that awful – if I hadn’t amassed it in a couple of weeks. Yikes. I also still end up with five shirts instead of one, three pairs of shoes instead of one, and eight adorable pair of shorts instead of one. There’s a reason alcoholism is often referred to as the “disease of more.”

Trading Alcohol for Water

Crazy as it seems, you can actually overdose on too much water. Just ask me and my pal. We used to sit around drinking loads and loads of beer every night. We both quit drinking on the same day. Since we could no longer sit around drinking loads and loads of beer we simply sat around drinking loads and loads of water.

He actually ended up in the hospital from this experiment. Overdosing on water can lead to a condition known as hyponatremia, with dangerously low sodium levels and symptoms that range from nausea and bloating to organ failure and death.

Better cross binge water-drinking off the list.

P.S. I still habitually carry a water bottle with me wherever I go – and this habit started even before I moved to the Arizona desert.

Old habits die hard, especially when they’re rooted in addiction. But simply switching seats on the Titanic isn’t the way to kill them. No matter how vehemently you grab for outside comfort, you’ll never be satisfied, either.

For me, I had to dig deep and address the underlying issues, ask for spiritual help and catch myself in action when I was about to substitute one addictive behavior for another. Switching seats on the Titanic definitely backfired. I needed a healthier, more permanent way to fill what I’ve heard called the “God-shaped void.”

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