By Steps to Recovery on November 28, 2012

Risky behaviors in recovery are a great formula for relapse. It is easy, sometimes, for the clean addict to believe only the drugs were the problem. We quickly forget the power of our disease and only remember certain symptoms. After some time in recovery an attitude of “I got this” may exist. Addiction can rear its ugly head in many ways. If we are not vigilant in our recovery these behaviors can be just as detrimental as the drugs themselves.

Gambling is a prime example of extremely risky behavior in recovery. Gambling has been proven to affect the brain in the same way as a high from drugs. The ups and downs of gambling are very similar to the ups and downs of using. Without even realizing it, the compulsion of our addiction can take over. A normal person gambles as a hobby, while an addict strictly gambles for the rush. It’s the same as a normal person who drinks socially, but an addict drinks strictly for the effect. When we win we wish we had won more and when we lose we beat ourselves up to the point of self loathing. A casual hobby of gambling can quickly become active addiction. Betting $10 at a time quickly can progress to needing to bet a few hundred in order to feel that same rush. It becomes a chase, leaving the person constantly looking for that next one. Just as an addict can start using occasionally and it progresses into a daily, lethal habit.

In the end, the results are the same as active addiction to substances. The lows far outnumber the highs, and the highs are much harder to come by. Addicts tend to be extremely sensitive people, and to put our body and mind through such torture is a shock to our system. Feelings often lead to using, and the imbalance of feelings that gambling can cause is a feeling that can be deadly to addicts. After working so hard to kick one habit, why take the risk to pick up another one? Its simple, just as we didn’t realize how far our substance abuse addiction would take us, we don’t see the long term damage our risky behaviors can cause us either.

Our behaviors are a direct result of our vigilance and education on addiction. If we don’t understand the depths of this disease we are bound to go back. Strip clubs, bars, acting promiscuous, and gambling are just a few of the behaviors which, over time, have caused many relapses. All of these behaviors are based on the idea of instant gratification. Very short-term thinking without evaluating the long term consequences. Once that instant feeling or relief is gone, whats next? Addicts yearn for a rush. Unfortunately for us, we tend to look for a rush in the wrong place. We have a disease that thrives on compulsion and poor decision making. When we make poor decisions and act out on risky behavior we are taking one step closer to relapse and a few steps further away from recovery. Take an inventory, ask for help, and if it feels wrong it usually is wrong.