“You’re so fat!” For the first time in my life, I heard these words uttered to me. I knew that I gained several pounds (a lot, actually) but I did not realize that having someone I barely know say this to my face will be like a cold shock. While I’m all for body positivity and all that, I also know that obesity is not okay. It was frustrating because for months before that, I was trying to control my eating urges but I couldn’t stop. I knew I had a problem… again.
This was not the first time I was addicted to something. Before being addicted to food, I struggled with drug addiction for a couple of years. Not a lot of people knew about my substance abuse problem. Even if I was losing a lot of weight during my drug and alcohol addiction, nobody commented about it. Probably because growing up, I was always a skinny kid. No matter how much food I ate, I never gained weight. I think people seeing a skinny adult version of the skinny kid they knew was not unusual.
When I started to pile up the pounds, however, it was very different. People were shocked to see me with a puffy face. A lot of people were messaging me on social media saying they did not recognize me. Nobody bothered to ask whether I was okay. They were more interested in giving unsolicited diet advice.
My Addiction Replacement Story
So how did my addiction replacement start? How did I switch from drugs to food? When I decided to become sober from substance abuse and alcohol, I did not go to rehab treatment. My close friends who knew about my substance addiction advised me to seek professional treatment, but I refused.
During that time, I convinced myself that I still had everything under control. I could quit cold-turkey and stay sober, without spending a lot of money or going to those cheesy group therapy stuff. I read everything I could from the internet about recovery so I thought I was fine. I was confident in saying that I could do it on my own.
But as every person who tried to quit drugs would tell you, it was not easy. There were low points when I would have cravings. But instead of reaching out for a pill, I started reaching out for food. I found that this would temporarily satisfy my cravings. It started with one candy bar but it quickly spiraled out of control.
During super stressful days, you would see me by the vending machine taking five bars of candy in one go. It may be cliché but stress eating two tubs of ice cream became an everyday thing for me. If ice cream companies gave out air miles, I could have traveled the world by now.
It was not difficult to see similarities between my food addiction and my previous substance abuse problem. When I was not getting the same effect with the drug I was taking, I would increase my dose or find a stronger drug. This also happened with food. When I would get tired of one type of food, I’d switch to another. Tired of candy bars? I would binge on donuts, potato chips, burgers, cupcakes, takeout, etc. Not long after, I would eat a lot of anything that I can easily reach. The problem is that most of these are unhealthy junk food.
I would rationalize that eating candy or donuts is better than popping Adderall or Xanax. Looking back, I was actually swapping my drug addiction with food addiction. Instead of using drugs to address my personal issues, I was using food instead.
How I Addressed My Food Addiction
My food addiction went very bad. Not only did I become obese, but I was also hospitalized. The doctor told me that I had diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and I’m at risk for a lot more diseases. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t help but eat a lot. At one point, I started drinking alcohol again to try to stop eating.
I woke up with a bad hangover one day and realized that I needed to seek help. I admitted to myself that this was not something I could do on my own anymore. I knew that if I did not seek professional treatment, it would not be long before I would be on drugs again. Replacing one addiction with another was not the answer.
I went to rehab to treat not only my food addiction but also my problem with drugs and alcohol. The professional therapy that I had was integral in making me understand that I needed to address the underlying problems that I had. I needed to stop using substances or food as coping mechanisms. I learned that I needed personalized holistic treatment in order to heal and finally embark on a healthy recovery journey.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or a behavioral addiction, help is available.
Contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today.