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  1. #1
    Registered User. mario's Avatar

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    Substituting one addiction for another

    Written by: Alastair Mordey

    Many people who go through treatment for addiction often forget about the risk of substituting their old addiction for a new one; this type of behaviour can lead to many future problems. Once this is realized, it can become a concern for them and their loved ones. Substituting an addiction for something else can be very unhealthy and create problems, so it is important for anyone in recovery to understand what substituting an addiction means, how to recognize it, and what to do if it happens.

    What Does Substituting Addiction Mean?


    Substituting an addiction means to replace a previous addiction with a new one. While not all substitutions are unhealthy, the behavior that causes them is. Anything that a person does that is compulsive, that they cannot live without, no matter what the consequences are, is an addiction.

    Recognizing Substitute Addiction
    It is important for a recovering addict and their families to be able to recognize a substitute addiction. If not caught, the person's healthy behaviour can quickly turn back into an addictive behaviour. Substituting can be alcohol to drugs or vice versa, gambling, overeating, excessive exercise, overworking, compulsive spending, or compulsive sexual behaviour's.

    The person may begin to only focus on their ?new thing?; such as, when they can go back to the casino or take their next pill. They may exercise so much that they begin to look sick, or may spend money like there is no end to it. Just as in their previous addiction, they will compulsively think about when they can satisfy their need or cravings. Things are now turning into a pattern of unhealthy behaviour and they are developing a substitution addiction.

    Examples of Substituting

    One example of a substitute addiction is as follows. Take a person who went to treatment for alcoholism. They successfully completed treatment and went home to begin their recovery. A few weeks later, they begin to feel stressed or anxious because of their new life, new job, etc. They may begin to feel they are unable to deal with daily minor frustrations. They may not want to drink for fear of a relapse; these feelings alone can create unnecessary stress. So the person may begin smoking cigarettes, increase their cigarette intake if they are already smokers, or take a sedative medication. They may begin to substitute their alcoholism with another substance and may become addicted to it.

    Another substitution that is very common is overworking. If a person is working on a non-stop basis, they may feel that it is ok, as it is keeping them occupied. However, if they begin to bring their work home and devote any free time they have to work, they are becoming compulsive. Their family may be ignored, their own health may be ignored, and anything outside of their work is ignored. They may no longer be addicted to drugs or alcohol, but they now have an unhealthy addiction to work.

    What's wrong with Substituting an Addiction?

    Often times a recovering addict may feel that their new behaviour's are ok; what they are doing is just helping them to alleviate some stress. They may feel that they have everything under control, and that it is a once in a while thing. The real problem is the recovering addict's behaviour. While they may be free from their last addiction, they are still engaged in addictive activity and compulsive behaviour.

    If a person or their loved one is beginning to notice a pattern of consistency, or obsessions with something, the recovering addict may be developing a substitute addiction. As with any addiction, there are ways to handle it.

    How to Treat a Substitute Addiction
    What to Consider

    One must also consider how long they have had the new addiction, how compulsive it is, and how many consequences they have had because of the substitution. If a person substituted their past addiction with drugs or alcohol, then it would be best to get into a rehab.

    Outside Counselling or Therapy

    Drugs or alcohol might not be what the person is substituting. This can make them not qualify for treatment at a rehab centre. If this is the case, they may need to seek other counselling or therapy.


    No matter what the situation is, they again have to learn how to change their pattern of behavior. In other words, they must be able to turn their unhealthy behaviour in to healthy behaviour. Cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT is excellent for this. The whole point of CBT is to learn how to develop healthy behaviour's. Many rehabs offer CBT and some will even help the person after rehab through an aftercare program. There are also CBT counsellors and therapists that can help with a substitute addiction.
    Changing Their Behaviour's

    12 Step Meetings and Other Support Groups

    12 step group meetings or other support groups can also help a person substituting an addiction. A person can listen to other recovering addict's stories and learn from them. These groups are full of people who can relate to similar experiences and situations. They give support and do not judge. All in all, the person must go back to the basics of recovery.

    Recognize It, Treat It

    There is no set time for treating a substitute addiction. Some are easy to overcome and others may take just as long as the original addiction. The quicker that a person is able to recognize their compulsive behaviors or their substituting, the easier it may be to treat it.

    Thought I bump this.
    Last edited by mario; April 4th, 2017 at 01:11 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered User. mylife's Avatar

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    Substituting one addiction for another

    Thanks Mario. I think I have been switching addictions from my early 20's so I completely believe your post. I didn't become an Alcoholic until my 30's as I had other addictions in my 20's. To get rid of each one I switched to the next the last being AL, so I am now very watchful as I feel I'm ending my addiction to AL, that I don't just move on to the next thing....

    That being said, I have wished for years I would switch to an exercise addiction! Okay, maybe a moderate exercise addiction....

  3. #3
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    Substituting one addiction for another

    Thank you for posting!

  4. #4
    Registered User. Choochie's Avatar

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    Substituting one addiction for another

    Thanks Mario!

  5. #5
    Registered User. mollyka's Avatar

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    Substituting one addiction for another

    Thanks Mario, I don't think I'm generally an addictive person but will certainly examine my conscience. I do know that I have had 'ciggie' thoughts recently having not smoked for 25 years mmmmm, will think on, on that one
    Molly

  6. #6
    Forum Subscriber. techie's Avatar

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    Substituting one addiction for another

    GREAT post Mario. I know I have an addictive personality so I always need to be on guard!

  7. #7
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    Substituting one addiction for another

    I am hoping my substitute is sex or chocolate...

  8. #8
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    Substituting one addiction for another

    Good one Mario, i'm hoping my substitute is sex AND chocolate

  9. #9
    Registered User. Chillgirl's Avatar

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    Substituting one addiction for another

    Mohun;1021726 wrote: I am hoping my substitute is sex or chocolate...
    madmans;1022683 wrote:
    Good one Mario, i'm hoping my substitute is sex AND chocolate
    :H:H:H

    I'm with Madman, need the sex to work off the chocolate.....

  10. #10
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    Substituting one addiction for another

    Who needs the chocolate?:H

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