Cross Addiction-From food to Alcohol
I am one of those people that went from emotional eating that was out of control, had weight loss surgery, and then turned to alcohol as a crutch. I never thought that would be something that would happen to me. I had read about cross addiction on the message boards before I had my surgery but I just scrolled along thinking it wasn't anything I had to be worried about. I was wrong. I had actually secretly hoped if anything, I would become addicted to exercise. That didn't happen.
I posted recently that I am also now overeating again too. Especially since this pandemic. I am learning that my cross addiction does not mean that I can't go back to my previous food addiction because I have. I have no excuses. None at all and I am embarrassed and upset with myself. I am reflecting this evening on how I got here. I don't post photos of myself in celebration of anything because I can barely look in the mirror. I can't talk to my family about what I am going through for reasons I won't go into. This is a path I never dreamed of for myself and I cannot believe this is the road in which I am traveling. I wish there was a magic pill to cure all of my troubles. I don't want to go back to being obese again and I want to be sober. I really need advice and support and for anyone that has experienced what I am struggling with, I hope you got through it ok and that you are doing well now.
Please don't be embarrassed. You have reached out here, which is a great first step. The only advice I can offer is to seek professional help. This is not something you can fix alone. You tried fixing your addiction to food by having surgery but the surgery itself isn't going to "fix" anything. You've switched your behavior from one addiction to another. You have to find the underlying reasons for the addiction before you can move forward.
For me personally, I was already in therapy (for other issues) when I made the decision to have WLS. Having that truly made all the difference for me. We incorporated that into our sessions because it was going to take work for me to be successful. So far so good - 17 years later.
I hope you can find someone to talk to. If your job offers an EAP, I urge you to seek someone out. Do your surgeon's office offer any support? Even talking to your primary doctor will help.
Janet in Leesburg
I TOTALLY agree with finding a good, addiction experienced wise and sympathetic therapist who you feel you can trust. My insurance pays for 2 x a week counseling and boy has it helped over the years . Interestingly, my therapist who's a British guy did NOT tell me to stop drinking but rather to try controlling it but he's totally
supportive of my 100% sober clean and abstinent ( from binging) status now - which I achieve and maintain by attending daily 12 step groups both in person and on Zoom.
My life is SO much better now than 80 something days ago when I was self-medicating my mood around the clock and passing out rather than falling asleep, never venturing outside ( except to buy booze) , rarely exercising ... and running from rather than fulfilling my responsibilities .
It's harder to sit many seats on the sinking Titanic boat that is addiction.
Stopping eating the excess bites ( and justifying poor food choices ) was probably the hardest addiction to break for me and essentially involved ratcheting down the binging and food obsession for YEARS ( and I definitely NEEDED my WLS to break the physical back of that addiction because it cured a giant hiatal hernia that was allowing stomach acid to irritate my esophagus constantly and the way I stopped the internal pain was with constant munching pre op.
Post op I continued the food obsession, cooking too much , hoarding food ... I'm def not totally over it yet but nine years post op I HAVE gotten used to eating bites not platefuls ... and making lower fat , fresh and/or raw and largely sugar free food choices.
Alcohol sideswiped me... I gave up cocaine years ago ( of course I liked it because it made me lose weight and allowed me days long relief from overeating while making me CRAAAZY ... ... small price to pay I thought at the time ... let me tell you THAT decision ( made over and over to pick up drugs ) cost me YEARS of my youth and countless amazing opportunities )
I thought I was OK after I gave up Coke - then I had WLS - and they told me alcohol would affect me five times more post op. So of course I had to try it while I was suffering the withdrawal from excess food - and the half a glass of wine roller coaster turned into a giant glass, then a bottle , then a double bottle - then shots of candy-tasting but liver-destroying ninety-nine bananas in my morning coffee while I was still sitting around in a hospital gown ... before my stitches were even healed and before I was allowed to eat even bites of solid food.... I was spiking my protein shakes with vodka !
Did I realize I had a problem? Yes, of course .
But there's a part of me that feels because I was a shunned fat kid that I DESERVE to party like a rock star as I always told myself (while working hard and achieving that security that would allow me eventually to do so).
So the seeds of rebellion and defiance were VERY strong in me. It took almost ten years for me to be willing to do whatever it takes to stop drinking.
I can tell you ... I CRAWLED into AA.
I didn't think I could stop because I'd tried and failed SO many times on my own during this last around-the-clock-drinking four year run...
I am SO grateful to be sober now. This last eighty something days seems WAY longer than the last four years ... which I barely remember.
I'm working my BUTT off every day now but still enjoying wonderful moments with nature, with being happy with myself and my work and even the way I look ( you should have seen how bloated gross and old I looked when was and right after I stopped drinking) .
You CAN do this Tidgel.... a million hugs and encouragement
I can't stop crying but in a grateful way. How I needed to hear from you. I wish you knew just how much your post resonates with me. I can't believe you took the time share your personal journey like you did. I am hopeful and inspired by you. You are an amazing soul.
on 10/7/20 8:15 am
I am sorry to read about what you are going through. Please know that you are not alone. Cross addiction is unfortunately not uncommon after weight loss surgery from all that I have read. We all have hurdles to jump over at times in our lives and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. You have support here but you also need to surround yourself with friends that you have known in your lifetime and are still close to. Be honest with them like you have done here. Maybe ask them to join you at an AA meeting to start? And if you are not seeing a counselor, maybe it is time to. Sending you prayers and well wishes.
Thank you TJFox. I appreciate your support. I am ready to reach out to my friends for support. My best friend knows what I am going through as I have told her personally but I am pretty sure most of my friends know because I have embarrassed myself in countless ways. I think I am funny when I am drinking and it's most often not the case. I don't know how to forgive myself for how I got here.
Cross addiction is very real and very difficult. You have to be the person who decides to stop using alcohol. Nobody can do that for you. I don't believe that an alcoholic can drink even a drop of alcohol ever. I have seen too many people try and fail. I have a good friend now who has quit and stayed sober twice, for about a year each time. But she refuses to quit hanging in bars with her friends, so always ends up drinking again.
I have another friend who quit on Christmas Day in 2008. He does not go into a bar. He can go to a restaurant and sit with other people who are drinking and not drink himself. He attends AA meetings, does not have alcohol in his home and understands that if he starts again, he will be right back to being a drunk. He know that the drink will kill him and he does not want to die.
That friend went to a substance abuse program several days a week for about six months and will required to attend AA as part of that program. He also sees a psychologist.
There is help available. I do not believe that anyone can do it on their own.
Real life begins where your comfort zone ends