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4 Bad Habits That Are Actually Good For You

4 Bad Habits That Are Actually Good For You

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

As someone in recovery from one of the worst habits one could possibly have, drug and alcohol addiction, I can always be the first to admit that even once we get sober there are still plenty of bad habits to choose from, and there are plenty of everyday people who have some of these same bad habits without the prerequisite of a severe substance abuse issue.

Bad habits are not exclusive to anyone, we all have some pattern we run in our lives once in a while or chronically that just seems gross, annoying or even dangerous, but the truth is there are always two sides to every story. Some of the bad habits are actually good for you, to some extent.

  1. Chewing gum

This is definitely one I can relate to, and I’ve heard more than once that watching someone chew gum is not a pretty sight. However, there are those that advocate that chewing gum is a stress relieving activity with apparent cognitive benefits.

In the book Senescence and Senescence-Related Disorders, Kin-ya Kubo and colleagues noted that chewing gum immediately before performing a cognitive task improves task performance because chewing gum actually increases blood oxygen levels in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. This is an area of essential brain structures involved in learning and memory.

  • Another study by a research team lead by Yoshiyuki Hirano indicated:
  • Chewing gum boosts thinking and alertness
  • Reaction times among chewers were 10% faster than for non-chewers
  • Up to 8 areas of the brain are affected by chewing, particularly areas concerning attention and movement
  1. Fidgeting

Those little leg shakes or quirky foot tapping movements we call fidgeting might be annoying to people around you, or even you when they seem to go on all by themselves, but fidgeting actually expends energy and burns calories.

Fidgeting is one activity that falls into a category known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). A number of studies carried out by obesity expert James Levine at the Mayo Clinic have shown that fidgeting speeds up an individual’s metabolism by stimulating neurochemicals in the body, thus increasing the ability to convert body fat into energy, so individuals who fidget burn up about 350 kcal a day!

  1. Swearing

Most people (namely your parents) still consider that swearing (cursing/cussing) is a bad habit, even though now it is a lot more common than a few decades ago. Now while it can be associated with being rude or even downright disrespectful, research has shown that using bad words may be the cheapest painkiller on the &$%#! market!

Richard Stephens of Keele University (UK) recently pioneered and published a cuss-worthy study in Neuroreport. The results of the experiments by Stephens and his team compared individuals who swore to individuals that didn’t, and displayed the former could endure the pain of putting their hand in a bucket of ice-cold water nearly 50% longer than the latter.

  • Almost 2 minutes for those that swore
  • 1 minute 15 seconds for those that said a neutral, non-swear word instead

The researchers speculated that swearing might trigger our natural “fight-or-flight” response by downplaying a weakness or threat in order to deal with it, but the stipulation is that swearing may only be effective in helping reduce pain if it is a casual habit, with the researcher warning that swearing is emotional language but if individuals overuse it, it loses its emotional attachment, and is less likely to help alleviate pain.

  1. Daydreaming

I was the most happy to read this one, since I basically live in a perpetual state of daydream. Creative types can be like that, there’s not much else to it. Sometimes daydreaming can occupy up to 1/3 of our waking lives, it can become nightmarish and evolve into anxiety, and generally is often viewed as a sign of laziness or inattentiveness.

So when I saw something that said the “executive network” in our brain is highly active when we are daydream, I knew there was a reason why I stayed stuck in my imagination most days.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was conducted by Kalina Christoff established the presence of rigorous activity in numerous brain regions while daydreaming, including areas associated with complex problem solving, to the point where these regions were even more active during a daydream than during routine tasks.

What is possible is that when we use conscious thought our thinking becomes too rigid and limited, so daydreaming is an important cognitive state in which we can navigate our attention from immediate tasks to unconsciously think about problems in their lives.

Eric Klinger of the University of Minnesota also supported the amazing positive attributes of the daydream, asserting it also serves an evolutionary purpose by triggering reminders of additional concurrent objectives when we are doing something else so that we do not lose sight of them, like it opens a little memory or hope to remind us why we are moving forward.

Sure, the present is where beauty often lives, but that doesn’t mean that the beauty in our deepest daydreams is any less real or necessary.

Some of the things we do the world tells us are irritating impulses or harmful habits, but in reality some of these things are the things that keep us growing and evolving, or serene and grounded. Feel free to fidget and embrace those twitches and subconscious tactics once in a while… I’ll be here daydreaming.

Habits haven’t yet “hijacked” the brain circuits that play a part in addiction, such as memories, emotions, and impaired decision-making; all of which are not yet intricately linked to the substance or the behavior as they are with a full-blown addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling from a habit that has become a dangerous or deadly addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Money and Work Addiction

Money and Work Addiction

Money and work addiction, in some ways, can be just as harmful as substance addiction. In a society that prides the hard-working kind, it can be difficult to know when to stop. After all, working hard is respectable right? Not exactly.

Work and Money are commonly seen as ‘respectable’ addictions due the fact that the benefits are increases in financial independence and the ability to progress further in one’s career. However, when work completely overwhelms and takes away from a person’s life, it can become a serious problem.

Believe it or not, some people have worked themselves to death. Money is essential for our daily existence and unfortunately overworking can lead to depression and even substance abuse. An article on money and work addiction mentions how 21-year-old  Moritz Erhardt was found dead after a 72-hour stint of working at the financial management company Merrill Lynch. Some have even committed suicide due to work-related stress.

Money can alleviate the suffering associated with not have enough. As a society, money, for many, becomes  “the source of our security, success, happiness, peace, popularity, and prestige. If we have it, we will have life. If not we will forever be unfulfilled” (Courtney Bourns 1982).

Work and money addictions are known as process addictions and fall into the same bracket as eating disorders and gambling addictions.  Addiction professionals now recognize process addictions like gambling, porn addiction and shopping addiction as legitimate disorders, however it can be difficult to diagnose work or money related addictions

In an attempt to measure out relationship with money, Bonnie denDooven, a researcher with IITAP – the International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals, developed a screen tool that identifies 16 different manifestations that play into our relationship with money.

Areas such as:

  • Money obsession
  • Problematic wealth
  • Under-earning
  • Deprivation
  • Money aversion (financial anorexia)
  • Adrenaline jobs
  • Dysfunctional relational attachment

While there are no accepted instruments to test these issues, practitioners can determine if a client has a problem dependent upon these seven questions:

  1. Tolerance: Does the client increase the amounts of their behavior overtime?
  2. Withdrawal: Are there withdrawal symptoms from ceasing this behavior?
  3. Continuation despite harm: Even with negative side effects such as physical, psychological, or financial harm, does the client continue the behavior?
  4. Loss of control: Is the client unable to control their behavior for long periods of time?
  5. Attempts to cut down: Has the client made conscious, but unsuccessful, efforts to reduce the behaviors?
  6. Salience: Does the client spend time planning, exhibiting, or recovering from the behavior and its effect.
  7. Reduced involvement: How has the behavior affected the client’s personal life? Has the client reduce involvement in family, social, and recreational activities due to the behaviors?

Money and work addiction stem from insecurity—a belief that we are not good enough. The belief drives us into addictive behaviors because we earn our validation from how much we can achieve and do.

Financial insecurity plays a huge role in our working behavior. A person obsessed with working and money may have struggled financially in the past and is striving to avoid that situation from reoccurring at all costs. Still, even after achieving financial stability, they may continue this working pattern in an addictive and compulsive manner.

There is a “rush” that money addicts feel when they think of making money and excelling in their occupation. Achievements release the happy ‘feel good’ chemical dopamine, as well as serotonin which are responsible for pride and status. However, when we experience loss, our brain releases cortisol, the chemical responsible for stress and anxiety. It can become a dangerous cycle


  • Shuts off our immune system
  • Creates paranoia
  • Inhibits release of oxytocin
  • Makes us less empathetic and generous.


  • Promotes Feelings of love, trust and friendship
  • Boosts immune system
  • Increases creativity
  • Inhibits addiction

As you can see, money can medicate our ‘less than’ feelings of insecurity but the danger is that this relationship can spin out of control. When working with money and love addiction, areas like denial, insecurity, depression, and compulsiveness are addressed often in a therapeutic setting.

Money does not always make us happy like we expect it to and making work and money your only priority can lead to many consequences. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Author: Shernide Delva

Same Difference: Substituting Addictions

Same Difference: Substituting Addictions

Author: Justin Mckibben

Most addicts whether recovering or not can tell you that not all addicts are the same, and so of course not all pathways to addiction are the same. There of course will be some overlapping factors that influence someone in a way that contributes to them being addicted to a drug or process, but some experts believe there is no ‘addictive personality’. Genetics and neurochemistry affect the tendency toward addiction, as well as environmental and social factors. So it should be no surprise that people who are trying to recover from one addiction can tend to lean on a new one. It may be obvious to some that switching drugs for alcohol is a terrible idea for an addict, but what about other habits they may not take too seriously?

If you have ever been in any stage of recovery or treatment from an addiction you have probably pondered over the idea, or have at least heard the general concept of substituting addictions. To substitute your addiction basically means you go from smoking to eating or maybe from drinking alcohol to compulsive shopping, or even from sex to over-working. Many addicts substitute one addiction for another in an attempt to compensate for what they may feel is absent from their life, whether it be an emotional or psychological void they feed the need to fill.

It’s important to distinguish co –occurring addictions from the concept of substitute addictions. Co-occurring addiction is commonly referred to as a dual diagnosis, which basically means that a person has two or more addictions that exist simultaneously. Like a lot of us addicts develop dangerous and detrimental eating habits during active addiction, and those habits can become eating disorders quickly.

Studies and Surveys

Dr. Steven Sussman, a professor of preventive medicine and psychology at the University of Southern California, co-authored a paper where he categorized 11 “relatively common behaviors” as addictions. Among the list of these common addictive behaviors were:

  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol use
  • Illicit drug use
  • Binge-eating
  • Gambling
  • Internet use
  • Love
  • Sex
  • Excessive exercise
  • Work
  • Shopping

Then the paper reviewed 83 studies to see which behaviors were most prevalent over a 12-month period. Each study had over 500 people, and they found that 23% of all the surveyed individuals had one or more addictions—or, co-occurring addictions. Remarkably, 47% of all US adults had at least one addiction. According to the same study there are two general types of addicts that are people who have substitute addictions.

Dosing with Dopamine

Dopamine, also known as anhedonia, plays a large role in the substitution of one addiction for another, as the same mesolimbic pathways are activated in all forms of addictions. So either addictions based on substance or behavior produces the same kind of brain chemistry that the user is really using for. After getting clean and sober, many people feel a lack of the neurotransmitter dopamine, or the inability to experience the pleasure typically felt when they have positive events or joys in life.

One solution to this, Dr. Sussman believes, is to engage in positive addictions that are likely to “jump start” the persons experience of dopamine activity on a somewhat regular basis. While some of these activities are healthier than risky sex or gambling, the method of diverting the attention could also have negative effects, and create another addiction. Things like:

  • Exercise
  • Work
  • A hobby
  • Reading
  • Gaming
  • Movies

Avoiding Additional Addictions

Knowing that addiction can come in all shapes and sizes, with different circumstances and situations, but still the same devastation can happen when a person develops an addiction, the recovering addict should be aware of the danger in over-compensating for their uncomfortable state with outside stimulations. While the drug addict obviously cannot use drugs in moderation, the true addict must be aware that drinking alcohol or behaving in many ways can get them started back down a self-destructive path.

Moderation in things like work and exercise is important, because even though these things can be productive and healthy, when the individual comes to depend on that outside source for happiness and serenity, they are only prolonging their struggles. Dual-diagnosis treatment is definitely possible for people who have more than one addiction at a time, and at the end of the day most addicts will tell you that addiction is less about a particular substance and more about the mentality and the behavior, which is why substitution of addiction is so easy to fall into.

Substituting addictions is dangerous, because any addict or alcoholic can easily develop an issue with another substance, or even a behavior, that is detrimental to them and the people closest to them. Whether the addiction is an illicit drug, drinking alcohol, gambling or even shopping it can be something that takes a serious toll on your life, but there is always a way to recover. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Drugs That Cause Behavioral Addictions: Can They Teach Us About Addiction?

Drugs That Cause Behavioral Addictions: Can They Teach Us About Addiction?

By Cheryl Steinberg

According to a new study, abnormal behaviors such as pathological gambling, sex addiction, and compulsive shopping are linked to the use of certain drugs commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease. These behaviors are labeled ‘abnormal’ because they were not present in the patient prior to the use of such medications.

“In our view, these medications should be used less frequently and with great caution, paying close attention to possible untoward effects on behavior and impulse control,” said Dr. Howard D. Weiss of Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and Dr. Gregory M. Pontone of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, writing in an editorial about the new study.

The Study’s Findings

In people with Parkinson’s disease, over time, the brain cells that make dopamine die off. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps regulate movement, emotions and experiencing pleasure. Dopamine receptor agonists are drugs that mimic the function of the neurotransmitter.

Researchers examined 1,580 reports of people in the United States and 21 other countries experiencing compulsive gambling, hypersexuality (sex addiction), compulsive shopping or other abnormal and extreme behavioral shifts after taking medication between 2003 and 2012. Of these, they found that 710 reported such changes and involved taking drugs called dopamine receptor agonists, which are used to treat Parkinson’s disease, while the remaining 870 cases involved people who were taking all of the other types of drugs combined.

Study author Thomas J. Moore, a senior scientist at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in Alexandria, Virginia said doctors and caregivers of Parkinson’s patients “need to be on the lookout for this kind of behavior” and understand it may be linked to the use of medication. The importance of new findings is that they inform warnings about the potential side effects of those drugs so that prescribing doctors are aware of them and can then make their patients aware of them, too.

What It Means for Treating Addiction

The findings are important for two reasons: one, they reveal risky side effects of which both doctor and patient should be aware so that they can make an informed decision about whether or not to take the meds and two, they give researchers a better understanding of how abnormal behaviors develop in general, and how such behaviors may be related to the brain receptor that is targeted by the drug.

But also, it shows promise of insight into the disease of addiction, which could lead to more effective ways of treating it. So…drugs that cause behavioral addictions: can they teach us about addiction?

It’s only recently that doctors started seeing a link between the use of these kinds ofdrugs and the occurrence of impulse control disorders, such as pathological gambling, hypersexuality and uncontrollable spending

That is, this new research might help researchers to better understand how abnormal behaviors, such as behavioral addictions, develop and how they may be related to the brain’s D3 receptor. The D3 receptor has also been investigated as a possible target for treatments for people with addictions, the researchers wrote in the study.

Behavioral addictions are just as damaging to one’s health, social relationships, and career. If you struggle with a gambling addition, sex addiction, shopping addiction, or else a substance abuse disorder call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. We are available around the clock to answer your questions.


Clean and Sober, but Still Broke? How to Manage Your Finances in Recovery

Clean and Sober, but Still Broke? How to Manage Your Finances in Recovery

The fact I am writing this article is funny to say the least. I have been active in recovery and broke for some decent periods of time, and still work on developing new strategies for managing my finances the best I can. Recovery affects different people in different ways, especially when it comes to money. Some people find themselves able to fill a new type of job opportunity, advance quickly and make a little more money. Others stay humble and work a simple job (or 2), and a lot of us find new ways to handle the money we’re making. Some find that while clean and sober they are actually able to hold onto more of their money for the first time in a long time. Others find that they develop new spending habits that don’t exactly afford them much growth or stability.

I am very familiar with being clean, sober, and broke! I have worked 2 jobs for months to afford my rent and life-style, and I have worked 1 very simple job just stay humble, get by and focus on sobriety, and now I work a wonderful job and stay active in recovery and still find myself broke.

No joke I still have to remind myself of a few dangers of spending in sobriety. To manage your finances in sobriety you need to remember to focus on the necessities. You should do things like:

  • Set goals- keep track of your progress
  • Buy Groceries- learn to cook (still working on that)
  • Cut back on expensive activities

Do NOT waste your money!

There are a lot of things that happen when we get sober. I can offer some good experience on what NOT to do (because I did it). One thing is we waste money on things that aren’t exactly going to help us in recovery or building a life we can manage. Sometimes we do deserve to give ourselves a gift, but we can also develop shopping and spending addictions. There are some strategies to avoid wasting money:

Don’t go too crazy with new Tattoos/Piercings…

Clean and Sober, but Still Broke? How to Manage Your Finances in Recovery

I’m so guilty of this in my first few months it is not even funny. I spent a good $1,000 in one month alone after 2 out of treatment on new ink. I looked back after a month and realized I could have easily invested in so many things that would have contributed to my future instead. I love my ink no lie, but I’m reminded every time I ride the bus of the car I could have!

Don’t blow money on new clothes…

Clean and Sober, but Still Broke? How to Manage Your Finances in Recovery

Clothes that we don’t need can be a way we treat ourselves and try to change our presentation, but when they are not necessary we should be able to step back and stay humble. Sure once you have changed as a person it’s nice to dress the part, but you have to change the behavior.

No need to stock-pile shoes…

Clean and Sober, but Still Broke? How to Manage Your Finances in Recovery

Shoes are awesome! New Nike’s go a long way, but to say that building my collection of kicks is more important than paying my bills on time is no way to manage my finances.

Learn where to get cheap coffee…

Clean and Sober, but Still Broke? How to Manage Your Finances in Recovery

Being young in recovery means (just taking a WILD guess) you’re probably well informed where the closest Starbucks or Duncan Donuts is, and the hours of operation. Sobriety makes some people, myself included, coffee snobs. Be sure you’re not spending too much on your intake. I know my Venti White-Mocha with 4 shots of expresso and whipped cream is a luxury, not a necessity…. well, sometimes.

Going out for dinner can eat up your wallet…

Clean and Sober, but Still Broke? How to Manage Your Finances in Recovery

Eating out is another luxury we can afford to take advantage of sometimes. But before going to the fanciest place in town and buying the steak and lobster special 4 times a week, make sure that you’re taking care of your responsibilities at home. Maybe try that ‘cooking’ thing I keep hearing about.

Vapes and Vape Accessories…

Clean and Sober, but Still Broke? How to Manage Your Finances in Recovery

The newest renovations in ‘vapor smoking technology’ are making a huge influence on our culture today, and people in recovery seem to love buying up ‘mods’ and ‘flavors’ to build their vape-game. No harm done, unless you have no money for food because you had to get that custom tank and new ‘Juicy-Fruit/Apple-Pie/Strawberry-Shortcake/Banana-Smoothie/Mucho-Menthol-’ mix.

Try not to chain-smoke cigarettes…

Clean and Sober, but Still Broke? How to Manage Your Finances in Recovery

Smokers, don’t get me wrong I know it can be tough. When I first got sober I smoked much more than usual, the struggle is REAL! However, if you can consider the fact that a large chunk of you change is going to pay for that habit, it may be a way to help you get ahead of your finances if you try to cut back on cigarettes, or even switch to a cheaper brand.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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