Addiction Is a Behavior It's Not about a Substance

June 9, 2016 Becky Doyle

Addiction is my behavior, it is not about a substance run wild. My alcoholism is rooted in negative behavior that requires rigorous mental health treatment. Even though I am an alcoholic in recovery, I feel that my substance of choice is just a symptom of my addictive personality. My addiction becomes stronger when I engage in one of three behaviors because my addiction is a behavior and it's not about the substance. Just look at the myriad of types of addictions afflicting our nation: gambling, sex, drugs of any kind, alcohol, shopping, exercise; the list goes on. People can become addicted to anything that brings them pleasure and makes them forget the struggles of life.

I cannot stay sober if I do not have a healthy channel to process both the good and bad in
my life. Maintaining my mental health is paramount to anything else when it comes to ensuring sobriety (Alcoholism Recovery is the Most Important Part of My Life). This is why, in sobriety, I maintain a rigorous process of self-help literature and treatment from medical professionals. These resources help me process emotions in a healthy way, instead of letting me fall into one of these three negative behaviors.

Addictive Behavior #1: Avoidance

Addiction is defined by behavior, not the substance. Anyone can relapse into addiction, but watching for these three behaviors can prevent it. Take a look.

Avoiding problems does not allow you to overcome them, but, rather, enables you to live in denial a tiny bit longer. Oftentimes, addicts drink or use to disconnect from reality or feelings. The desire to avoid people or responsibilities can also manifest itself as isolation and a refusal to socialize or connect with others.

Avoidance is desirable for addicts because it enables them to get the same effect as drinking or using to forget, but without all the additional consequences of using their substance of choice.

Addictive Behavior #2: Conflict or Drama

Addicts create conflict or drama in their lives for many reasons. In some cases, it gives the addict a feeling of superiority as the other people involved are verbally attacked and emotionally weakened. Some addicts are driven to create conflict as a method of releasing pent-up emotions in a manner that seems justifiable. And, in other cases, addicts are simply so used to chaos in their home lives that they simply do not know another way of living.

Addictive Behavior #3: Self-Deprecation

Self-deprecating jokes or comments are very common in American culture today. The problem with these statements is that they are often tied to a real belief, however deep-seated it may be. The more we tear ourselves down and the more we believe it, the more depressing life becomes. It is extremely difficult to built a sober life if you do not like yourself.

Addictive Behavior on Sobriety

I notice that for myself, if I notice any one of the three addictive behaviors creeping into my life, then the other two are probably already in full swing. This alarm reminds me that I am on a slippery slope to picking up a drink again, and I need to take better care of myself.

For instance, I was on a cruise with friends recently and while I never felt tempted to drink alcohol; I wanted my friends to drink heavily. On more than one occasion, I felt compelled to push others to drink like I used to. I stopped myself and thought, "Why? Why does it matter to me what or how much they drink?"

The best answer I can come up with is that some part of me feels as though I can live vicariously through other people.

In order to truly live a sober and peaceful life, I need to also walk away from the addictive behaviors that appeal to my alcoholic mindset.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay user kaicho20.

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APA Reference
Doyle, B. (2016, June 9). Addiction Is a Behavior It's Not about a Substance, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Becky Doyle

David Roppo
April, 22 2017 at 1:12 pm

I agree Becky. Addiction is not about the substance or compulsion. We can use anything as an addiction. It is all about the behavior.

June, 22 2016 at 8:31 am

Great Article!!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Becky Doyle
July, 6 2016 at 6:06 pm


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