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Nail Biting

  • anonymous Asks ...

    I have an addictive personality. I am in cocaine recovery. I have had a problem with chewing my fingernails since I was a kid. Are these things related in the brain somehow? Seems weird that I can stop smoking crack but I can’t stop biting my nails.

  • Dr. Lani Chin Says ...
    Dr. Lani Chin

    Thanks for your post.  I will do my best to help you understand how your nail biting and cocaine addiction may be related.

    First of all, congratulations on staying sober.  Choosing to quit using any substance is not an easy decision. 

    Using cocaine and biting your nails are two ways you've been using to cope with issues that have come up in your life.  At some point in your life, you realized that using cocaine or biting your nails made you feel better.  As a result, you continued to do either instead of using other coping skills (i.e. writing, exercising, etc.).  So try to think about your cocaine use and nail biting as two separate activities that make you feel different for different reasons.  When using cocaine, you probably feel carefree and numb.  The things that bothered you became insignificant because you had a a body high and the pain you were in probably went away.  When biting your nails, you are doing something that you find soothing and probably distracting.  Both activities take you away from feeling distress and both activities help you cope with things you don't want to feel or think about. 

    Hope this answers your question and helps you understand what's going on.  I wish you the best of luck in your recovery and with the rest of your life. 

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