Cross-Addiction: A Way That Seems Right?

Recently, a young girl reached out to me concerning her struggles with disordered eating; she informed me she just took up the habit of smoking.

For what I am doing, I do not understand… The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15

She’s currently in a facility, being treated for bulimia, a mood disorder and self-injury behavior. I asked her what her treatment center thought about this habit. She told me she thought it was a better action than engaging in the eating disorder and self-injury behaviors.

But, to me, it smacks of cross-addiction. Indeed, someone afflicted with an addiction, obsession or disorder can often become convinced if they just switch it for another passion or behavior, he or she will be fine.

I did this myself.

Back in college, when I experienced my infamous intervention with my roommates and the college’s social services department, I was called out on my own dysfunctional behavior: calling psychic hotlines.

I am not joking.

Desperate as I was for hope, answers and relief, I racked up an enormous phone bill, spending hours each weekend, dialing these hotlines. I tried to distract myself from my eating disorders, chaotic emotions and despair.

But nothing worked. The psychic hotlines could not heal my behaviors, my feelings or my issues. Only complications, more resentment, anger and frustration resulted from me calling these spend-y phone numbers.

Substitutes could not change things; facing and dealing with my truth, via God’s help, however, did.

There is a way that seems right to a man. But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12

Dealing with this smoking issue is tricky, particularly for those of us who are in recovery. How many meetings are filled with people chain smoking and drinking endless cups of coffee? Sometimes, from a recovery vantage point, the smoking vice appears to be the lesser of two evils. I’ve personally witnessed how my own family members obsessively cling to cigarettes and coffee, for fear of drinking again. Every opportunity for a smoke or coffee break, sometimes, every fifteen minutes, is a must do for them.

It’s hard. I don’t want to sound judgmental here.

But, again, substituting one addiction for another is not the answer and furthermore, may even be more of a complication to long term health. I have had family and friends die of cancer because of their “substitutes.”

There may be a way which seems right, but we need to pay attention to what comes after that “but…”

…its end is the way of death.Proverbs 14:12

Let’s make every attempt to choose life, instead.