An amber–colored glass ashtray filled with used cigarette butts along with their ashes.

Drugs to Cigarettes: Challenging Addictive Mindsets

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Overcoming an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, or any other kind of addiction is an arduous process. It is common that each person will continue to develop new coping mechanisms during each stage of their recovery and long after they have graduated from a recovery program. 

However, while addressing one’s addiction and how it has affected their life is crucial, it is also important to consider the effects that addictions as a whole can have on one’s mindset. Regardless of the type of addiction that an individual suffers from, a person may have to cope with the symptoms of their addiction while also addressing the idea of an “addictive mindset” that can inform future coping skills.

What Is an Addictive Mindset?

An addictive mindset can create a unique hurdle in one’s recovery by altering how an individual views certain coping mechanisms following addiction. Addiction is a disease that reprograms and over-centralizes one’s idea of “happiness” by directly correlating it to the use of a particular substance. 

For example, those who suffer from an addiction to heroin may find that even the idea of being “happy” is enigmatic without the drug and thus can tie their happiness directly to its use. This can happen with any kind of addiction, as addiction as a whole can reprogram the brain’s flow of dopamine, the chemical that makes people feel happy, to only be released with the use of an addictive substance or activity. The result of this is that one’s idea of happiness has very few, if not one, direct source. 

Addictive mindsets are a way of thinking that takes the idea that one’s happiness can be achieved on a one-to-one basis with any kind of substance or even a coping mechanism. While it is possible that an individual is addressing their unique addiction and overcoming the numerous hurdles therein, it is also important to address the way in which the notion of over-centralizing the idea of happiness has had on a person throughout their journey. 

Over-Centralization and Replacement Addictions

Overreliance on a single coping mechanism to quell urges or deal with stressors can have several effects on an individual. While it is important to find effective strategies to deal with these challenging times, addictive mindsets can set in if an individual puts too much stake in a single coping mechanism to their own detriment. 

For some, this can take the form of a replacement addiction. Replacement addictions come about as a result of this addictive mindset idea–creating a situation where new addictions form in the remnants of an old one to fill the void created. Those suffering from an addiction to alcohol may have successfully ceased their use of the substance but replaced this time and money with cigarettes. 

Others may first have employed shopping trips as a reward for their sustained sobriety, only to develop an expectation and reliance on the practice and have developed a shopping addiction as a result. These kinds of replacements can seem beneficial at first by helping quell the urges to engage with one’s previous addiction but can also create a dangerous situation on their own. For those who have suffered from addiction, the idea that their happiness and progress can be tied to a single kind of source can be a detriment to the very practices they employ to address addiction. 

While developing a replacement addiction like smoking cigarettes, shopping, chocolate, or caffeine can feel like a step in the right direction, and there is still room to celebrate the cessation of one’s previous addiction, these replacement addictions can continue to reinforce the idea of an addictive mindset, as well as create their own financial and social hurdles. 

Finding Balance Against Overreliance

Relying too much on a single coping strategy and adopting a mindset that addiction can be addressed in a one-to-one ratio with a coping strategy can lead to a number of traps. While practicing proven and effective strategies is definitely good, overreliance sets in when such practices are accepted to the point that new strategies are not sought tried or even considered. 

Having a single coping mechanism or replacement to quell the continued effects of addiction can leave an individual ill-prepared to deal with new stressors that may come up during one’s journey, and not being prepared for the nuance of any number of situations can lead to a greater chance for relapse. 

Likewise, there can be major hurdles if an individual cannot employ certain coping strategies in a given situation. While an individual may seem to rely on shopping to make themselves feel better and reward them for maintaining their sobriety, such a strategy can still be ineffective as an escape plan and can even lead to its own financial hardships if not moderated. Balancing recovery strategies and working to create a diverse portfolio of unique strategies is essential in addressing addiction and preventing replacement addictions or an addictive mindset from taking hold. 

Overcoming an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or any other substance or behavior means addressing the kind of mindset that can be instilled as a result of addiction. At Everlast Recovery, we understand and embrace the need for balance and moderation throughout your recovery journey, and our professional staff and supportive peers are prepared to help you find an array of practices applicable to your unique situation. Our individual, group, and family programs allow each individual to explore many different therapeutic options, backed by experiential therapies like art, music, and more. Our home-like atmosphere helps to create an air of comfort and support, all while learning from peers about their own applicable strategies in a safe environment. For more information on how we can help you through your journey from detox to residential care and beyond or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (886) 338-6925.

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