Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cross Addiction

There's a phenomenon called "addiction transference" or "cross addiction".  In short, this is when one addiction is replaced by another. For example, a smoker may quit smoking by chewing gum. Now that person feels the need to chew gum all the time.

Those who struggle with weight are addicted to food in one way or another.  We didn't get to this point by not loving food.  After surgery we can't eat like we used to.  Even if we give in and eat that piece of gooey chocolate cake, we still can only have a couple bites.  That often doesn't satisfy what we're looking for in that cake.  It's not just the taste we're after.

When we can no longer turn to food for our emotional needs, we turn other things.  Some turn to exercise.  Others shopping. Others yet, sex.  Anything can become an addiction.  Some of these addictions are worse than others, but they can all have a negative effect on our lives.

I used to be a smoker.  I quit when I got pregnant with my daughter.  She'll be 10 in July, so last October I have been nicotine-free for 10 years.  I quit for her.  I tried quitting before, but was never successful because I liked it.  But with that life growing inside of me I was able to do it.  I never looked back.  I never once felt the need for a cigarette.

That's changing though.  Lately I've been feeling the urge.  It's not strong, but it's there.  I won't give in.  I know through past experience that if I have one cigarette I'll be back to 1/2 a pack a day in a heartbeat.

I'm using this knowledge to be more aware of how my brain is doing.  I know exactly what my body is doing.  I can see it in the mirror and on the scale every day.  But the brain is a different matter.  Sometimes I'm sad when I can't eat a lot of a yummy food.  Or I get frustrated when I want some chips or cookies and there's none in the house. I struggle finding a replacement behavior.  And I have a feeling that struggle will continue for as long as I'm on this journey.

If any of you have dealt with cross addiction and found ways of dealing with it, I'd love to hear about it.

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