In early recovery, just focusing on not drinking or not doing drugs is almost all that we can handle. However, once we get a little time under our belt and we no longer have the constant obsession to drink or use or addiction can take different forms and sometimes appear like a multi headed beast. These different addictions or pseudo-addictions can show up as different types of compulsive behaviors.
Anything from shopping, to eating, to sex, to a compulsive need for control are ways that addiction can show up in other forms. It’s important to recognize this when it happens but also to not be too hard on ourselves. Remember that we have come a long way and we have freed ourselves from the destructive effects of addiction to alcohol and drugs.
That being said, we want to monitor these behaviors to make sure that they don’t have similar destructive tendencies in our lives and lead to states of unmanageability similar to to those that we experienced when we were drinking and drugging. You may want to consider attending another 12-Step fellowship if you feel that any of these behaviors have become full-blown addictions on their own. It’s not uncommon for people to work the steps in multiple fellowships. Things like sex, relationships, eating and finances can all present unique challenges for the recovering individual. And sometimes those issues are better handled in a fellowship that specifically deal with them rather than just AA.
One of the most effective ways that you can monitor this tendency is by being honest and having a strong network of people that you can trust. Remember that we deal with alcohol, cunning, baffling, and powerful. That also applies to the ways in which alcoholism tries to show up in our lives. Also cunning, baffling and powerful. So sometimes when we’re doing things like going on a shopping spree, dating five people at the same time, or cleaning the house ten times a day, we might not be able to see the behaviors for what they are. But a trusted friend can gently help us see that it might be our alcoholism dressed up in a different costume.
A good rule of thumb is that if it’s a behavior that you’d rather not tell somebody about it’s probably something you should tell somebody about. Remember that addiction, in all forms, thrives in isolation. You’re not perfect and you don’t have to be. We all get a little crazy sometimes, even in recovery. Let people know what’s going on and get additional help if you need it.