Being Conscious of “Transfer Addictions”
As we build new habits in alcohol-free living, filling our time with new and exciting activities, it’s important to be conscious of the risk of something called “transfer addiction. Transfer addiction simply means going from one habitual behavior to another, and is important to pay attention to when we remove habitual alcohol use from our lives. Obviously there are many things we can fill our time and energy with when we quit drinking that are overwhelmingly positive, but sometimes we fill that space with habits that have their own negative consequences.
We first introduced this concept when we talked about sugar addiction after removing alcohol use, which is probably the most common transfer addiction in alcohol-free living. Sugar provides artificial dopamine spikes similar to alcohol, and our bodies are craving the sugar they got used to consuming alongside alcohol. Therefore, many people notice they develop a wild sugar tooth after removing alcohol. Sugar is certainly less harmful than alcohol - it won’t make you lose your keys or text your ex - but it does have negative consequences if used to excess.
Similarly, some people fall into over-exercising, over-eating, over-working, over-caffeinating, or substituting other harmful substances in place of alcohol. This is a natural expression of our brains’ attempt to fill this empty space and dopamine deficiency, but can be problematic. If you notice that you now spend 80 hours at work and you’re wearing yourself thin, pay attention to how you’ve transferred your habitual alcohol use to over-work. The end goal is to find balance in our lives.