Unexpected Addictive Substances that Impacted My Recovery

June 4, 2020 Amanda Richardson

As a recovering behavioral addict, I have encountered numerous unexpected addictive substances in my recovery. Many individuals assume for a substance to be addictive that it must be either illegal or inherently dangerous, but this isn't always the case. Throughout my recovery, I have learned about substances of all types, some of which appear to be completely harmless at first glance. My hope is that this post will be helpful for other recovering addicts to learn about possible unexpected addictive substances that might catch them off guard.

Substances Impact Behavioral Addicts

Even though my primary drugs of choice involve behaviors instead of substances, I still pride myself on being intentional and aware of my habits when I encounter potentially addictive substances. For example, alcohol is not a primary addiction for me, but I still try my best to remain cognizant of my intentions when consuming alcohol.

If I do consume alcohol, I try to ensure that I'm not in an emotionally unstable place or frame of mind. I never want to use alcohol as a means to cope with difficult situations or emotions and I definitely try not to drink alone. Additionally, I typically control how many drinks I consume per hour and remain continually hydrated as well to prevent myself from becoming dangerously intoxicated. 

The point is that having a history of addiction can sometimes make a person more susceptible to falling into other addictions. This isn't always the case, but no matter what, it is wise to stay aware of your habits and decisions and always be prepared.

Unexpected Addictive Substances

Some of the top unexpected addictive substances I've experienced include caffeine, sugar, and food in general. While some of these might sound fairly similar, I've witnessed the distinct differences and interesting effects firsthand. 

Caffeine is a pretty well-known potentially addictive substance that I believe most people are aware of. There are numerous rehab and detox centers that have outlawed caffeine altogether in order to help eliminate habitual addictions and give their clients the best possible chance at recovery. With that said, outside of the recovery community, it seems to me that most non-addicted individuals find caffeine relatively harmless. 

In my experience, caffeine has proven to be addictive, but not necessarily life-altering for me. The most unique aspect of caffeine is that it appears to be a mood-altering substance. Many Americans won't even leave the house in the morning without their first cup of joe because of the obvious mood-enhancing effects.

Furthermore, this implies that caffeine or a lack thereof in our daily routines can definitely impact our emotions, behaviors, and mood irregularities. I personally believe that these effects can be enhanced for some more than others, but nonetheless, if you have a history of addiction, it might be wise to watch your caffeine intake during the beginning stages of your recovery when you are most vulnerable.

Next, I've also experienced how addictive sugar can be. For me personally, there's nothing I love more than an ice-cold soda if I'm feeling down or low on energy. Granted, depending on the soda, some include both caffeine and an obscene amount of sugar (further proving my point about caffeine), however, sugar seems to be the most consistent ingredient in most soda beverages. 

Parenting blogs all across the Internet warn their readers incessantly on the dangers of kids consuming too much sugar, but adults can also experience some of these dangerous side effects as well. I believe that many adults these days are fully aware of the harmful effects of consuming sugar and yet so many of us still consume it on a regular basis.

After all, isn't that a telltale sign of addictive behavior: if we know something is harmful and yet we continue to do it anyway? Of course, it isn't my place to judge your sugar intake. As I mentioned previously, I am a soda enthusiast and I can't say with certainty if I will ever break that habit entirely.

I am not a medical professional so if you want to educate yourself on the risks of sugar (or caffeine) I strongly encourage you to reach out to a doctor or physician's assistant for more guidance on this issue.

Food Addiction in Addiction Recovery

Lastly, food of all sorts has proven to be a damaging substance for many recovering addicts, myself included. In fact, the more time I spent "sober" from participating in my addictive behaviors, the more my dependence grew for food of all types. 

For me personally, bread and dairy have been the most noticeably addictive foods in my addiction recovery. If I don't continually monitor myself and my intentions, I can very easily slip into a pattern of disordered eating including excessive binging on certain foods.

My disordered eating doesn't necessarily fit into the categories of anorexia or bulimia, because even though I binge, I do not purge and I have never felt the need to starve myself due to body dysmorphia. However, I eventually had to come to terms with the reality that my eating is still very much disordered and addictive, even though it doesn't fit into the stereotypical mold of the most common eating disorders ("Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified [EDNOS]"). 

Food addiction or dependency can look different for everyone and ultimately you know yourself better than anyone. If you have a history of addiction and have noticed irregular or unhealthy eating patterns in your recovery I want to encourage you to get help.

Food can be a great help to our bodies to provide energy, strength, and nourishment. However, just like any other substance, food can also be addictive for some people.

Substance abuse and addiction are serious conditions that often require medical or professional intervention. If you or someone you know struggles to control their intake of certain substances seek help from your doctor, a therapist, addiction professionals, or just a close trusted friend. It's never too late to get help.

APA Reference
Richardson, A. (2020, June 4). Unexpected Addictive Substances that Impacted My Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Amanda Richardson

Amanda is a professional health and wellness writer who specializes in creating content tailored to the female audience. She is especially passionate about social injustice, mental health, and addiction recovery.

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