Understanding Addictive Behaviors

Even seemingly innocent behaviors can become addictive and detrimental in our lives. This video guide explores the role of addictive behaviors in our lives.

Relapse Workshop: Addictive Behaviors

Estimated watch time: 3 mins 31 secs


We as humans often turn to certain behaviors as a way to control things that are happening in our life. Sometimes, these behaviors, even though they’re seemingly healthy, can become addictive and problematic.

This video explores the role of addictive behaviors in our lives.

Video Materials:

Related Content:
Accompanying Worksheets:

There are lessons accompanying each video that you can access through our recovery portal, Swell or you can download, here. (Lesson 5)

Medically-reviewed articles:
Professional webinars:

Relapse Workshop: Addictive Behaviors

In this lesson, we’re going to talk about other addictive behaviors.

So as humans, we tend to solve our problems by avoiding them or controlling them. And this works fine with external things, but it typically doesn’t work well with internal processes such as thoughts, feelings, physical sensations or memories.

There are things that we do as humans that we use to deal with our inner world. We tend to want to get rid of unpleasant feelings and thoughts. In other words, we want to avoid. And we tend to want to hold on to pleasant thoughts and feelings. We want to control them.

When we rely on these strategies repeatedly, they can become addictive and unhealthy as a coping mechanism. This may seem a little strange, but stay with me.

This includes seemingly healthy things like working, cleaning or exercising.

So getting to know our other addictive behaviors can really help us to maintain sobriety from drugs and alcohol. The more awareness we have, the less likely we are to react in impulsive ways.

So some potential cross addictions we may have is:

  • Using nicotine
  • Sex
  • Caffeine
  • Pornography
  • Watching TV
  • Masturbation
  • Playing video games
  • Gambling
  • Cleaning
  • Organizing
  • Working
  • Using social media
  • Shopping
  • Eating when you’re not hungry
  • Dieting
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Gossip
  • Cutting or harming yourself
  • Isolation

Are there any others you can think of? Often we develop addictions as a way of coping with emotions. Now I want you to realize these behaviors that are listed are very normal behaviors that humans do. They aren’t always addictive just because you’re using them. We will work through and talk about how to know when they’re getting to be addictive for you.

When we stop using alcohol or drugs, we can feel overwhelmed by the emotions that we now have more exposure to. It’s common to use these other behaviors in an addictive way to replace the drugs or alcohol that we were using to cope with them. It’s also common that these behaviors were used in conjunction with drugs and alcohol. So we need to get to know all of the ways in which we numb our feelings to begin to develop more effective, less destructive ways of coping with difficult emotions.

For any of the behaviors you identified as a potential cross addiction, I want you to explore the following. This is a way of identifying whether or not this is a harmful behavior for you.

So what would happen if you use this behavior every day for six months? How might it impact your physical health, your mental health, your productivity at work or school, your relationship with friends and family, and your finances?

And if it doesn’t have an impact on these things, then there’s nothing wrong with continuing that behavior. If it does have an impact, it might be something you want to take a look at as a thing you’re using ineffectively or in an addictive manner. And you might also want to ask yourself….. What if you used it every day for 10 years? Would that change anything about it?

And so next we are going to be developing an action plan and an escape plan.

Thank you for choosing The Recovery Village. If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health or substance abuse and would like to find out more about the programs we offer, please reach out to us directly at 855-387-3291.

Other Addiction & Mental Health Resources

The Recovery Village has several, free resources for those living with addiction or mental health conditions and their loved ones. From videos, to clinically-hosted webinars and recovery meetings, to helpful, medically-reviewed articles, there is something for everyone. If you need more direct help, please reach out to one of our representatives.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.