We know that many people don’t have just one addiction; they have a cluster of them. This often surfaces during addiction treatment. While we are focusing on the consequences, potential roots, and personal habits associated with an alcohol addiction, we may begin to uncover an addiction to nicotine, caffeine or another behavioral or drug addiction.
Addictions appear to occasionally emerge together, and in many cases it seems that one addiction can even fuel the other. For example, sexual addiction is highly associated with alcoholism and abuse, while certain addictive behaviors often occur with one another. Some compulsive spenders are also workaholics to compensate for lost funds, while compulsive gamblers often also struggle with overeating.
Many people learn during addiction treatment that stopping one addiction will not “cure” another behavioral problem. In many cases the opposite occurs, in which recovering from an addiction reveals the emergence of another addiction a person may have been struggling with to a lesser degree.
In this sense, addiction can sometimes be compared to a bump in a rug. When flattened out in one area it will simply pop up somewhere else.
There is a lot more to addiction treatment than stopping the problematic habitual behavior. Recovery has more to do with changing your lifestyle and attitude than anything else. This involves evaluating and sometimes altering your belief system, the way you approach problems and the coping mechanisms you employ as you engage with the world around you and encounter stressful situations.
Overcoming one addiction can even prompt the onset of another to compensate for flawed coping mechanisms if lifestyle changes are not addressed during the recovery process.
Is there a common denominator in every instance of addiction?
There is not one particular chemical, withdrawal symptom or method of altering the brain that causes addiction. Every form of addiction varies considerably from person to person; and from one addiction to the next even within the same individual.
The only constant across every addiction is the presence of the addict. Every person who struggles with addiction has their own vulnerabilities that expose them to addictive behaviors. Essentially, the true source of addiction lies within us.
Sometimes in the process of recovery, addicts will turn to healthy behaviors with the same compulsion they took to their original addictive behavior. This might mean eating healthily, exercising or working with a compulsiveness that is intense, but since the action is socially acceptable it is often overlooked.
Ultimately, people with a predisposition to addiction will continue to struggle with addictions their entire life until they make fundamental changes in their lifestyle that puts them in a less vulnerable state. While one addiction may be the most evident at one point, multiple addictions are a common problem faced during recovery.