For those trying to recover from an addiction, a pleasant new hobby might sound like a good way to divert attention and to channel mildly compulsive tendencies. However, those who are recovering have to be aware of those mild tendencies turning into full-blown addiction, just with a substitute behavior or substance, such as gambling or food. The problem is, it can be hard to tell if that new hobby is really a substitute addiction. Here are a few things to look for.
Do You Have to Make Excuses to Co-Workers, Friends, and Family in Order to Do It?
On the face of it, there's nothing wrong with finding a hobby or other activity that you're passionate about. Everyone should be so lucky, really, to find something that they are excited about and that is a force for good in general. But if you find yourself having to make excuses for missing work because you were too busy with the new activity, for example, or if your family keeps saying they never see you anymore, then those are warning signs (this assumes your family is reasonable about letting members have their own lives; it's quite a different issue if you have an over-controlling family). Your new activity might take up time, but it shouldn't take up so much time that it interferes with regular basic life requirements.
Do Other People See the Behavior as Compulsive?
Among the people who you trust to tell you if they see another problem forming, what's the opinion about this new activity? Do you seem excited and happy, and maybe a bit obsessed, but overall in a healthy way? Or have they been telling you that you seem to get a bit out of control when involved in the new hobby? Have you lost friends because you tried to push the new hobby on them? Those situations could indicate that your activity is taking on addiction-level qualities. It's fine to really like a TV show that has a large fan base. It's not fine if you're talking about it all the time, filling your life with it to the exclusion of other interests, and so on.
How Do You Feel if You Have to Skip the Activity for a Couple of Days?
What happens if you can't do the activity for a couple of days? Do you feel fine, or maybe a bit regretful but secure in the knowledge that you'll get back to the activity soon? Or do you feel like you're missing a major part of your life, and the craving for the activity is making you irritable or withdrawn? If only a couple or a few days without the activity is making you feel terrible -- not just, "Gosh, I wish I could get back to the hobby," but outright terrible -- you're dealing with a substitute addiction that was masking compulsive feelings.
Are You Reluctant to Tell Your Therapists/Counselors About It?
Given the attention placed on avoiding substitute addictions, you might feel a bit nervous about talking to your counselors about what you're doing now. However, counselors are aware that there is a difference between substitute addictions and fun hobbies. Seriously reconsider how your counselors would react and try telling them; if you feel like you absolutely can't tell them, then maybe think about how the activity is affecting your life and whether you are using it as a substitute addiction.
Recovering from an addiction can take time, and you do have to be cautious. But if you work with your counselors and therapists and approach hobbies with caution, you can find that badly needed balance between becoming involved in life again and avoiding substitute addictions.
Contact a clinic like Brightside Clinic for more information.