The Dangers of Addiction Replacement

Addiction replacement is a well-known phenomenon in addiction recovery. While replacing old habits with new healthy ones can be beneficial, there is a limit. Most people suffering from a substance misuse disorder are no strangers to the “all or nothing” approach to, well, everything. This is why the risk of replacing an addiction with a healthier lifestyle choice can backfire and become a whole new addiction.

While there are many other unhealthy addictions that can also become compulsive such as gambling, sex, video games, or shopping, separating these two categories into “good addictions” and “bad addictions” is oversimplifying a very complex issue.

Those that are truly adamant in their sobriety often launch themselves into their work and newfound projects. Even with the best intentions, they may not realise that these “good habits” are replacing their former addiction. While in a sense this may be a form of harm reduction, or at the very least the lesser of two evils, it is an indicator that they are still lacking the foundations of sobriety, ie, a life free of addiction. 

The colloquial term “dry drunk” refers to someone who no longer drinks but still maintains the same behaviour patterns. This is because recovery is about more than just abstinence. It’s about changing behaviors and breaking old patterns. For this reason, addiction replacement can be a serious hurdle.

substance misuse

Common Addiction Replacements :

Exercise :
                Although exercise can be a great ally in recovery, compulsive exercise routines can hamper recovery. Exercise increases the production of your brain’s feel-good chemicals, called endorphins, so it is easy to see why those with a previous addiction could begin to compulsively seek out this “high.”

Food :

           Many people find that when they get off drugs, they are able to enjoy food again. However, sometimes they can find that this becomes a new addiction, and they find themselves craving sugar, high-fat, and high-carbohydrate foods.

Work :

            Rectifying your financial situation after recovering from addiction is often necessary, and focusing on your career can be a good thing. But if you are working longer hours than you should be, or becoming consumed by your job, this could be a red flag.

Other drugs or prescription medicines :

            Although some medications can be beneficial, especially in the case of withdrawal (such as methadone to ease opioid withdrawal, or benzo’s for alcohol withdrawal) one has to be wary of the lure of prescription medication. Substitution with other drugs can also be a controversial topic, such as the replacement of alcohol with marijuana. Sometimes those in recovery can end up just switching to a new drug of choice.

Finding balance :

The commonality of addiction replacement is one of the reasons why post-treatment care is important. A recovery coach can set up an aftercare program which will ensure that you are not overstepping the line and becoming compulsive with any of your behaviors. After all, the key to long-term recovery is building a life in which you are free from addiction, and self-destructive behavior.

Recovery852 assists individuals and families struggling with addiction. We specialize in but are not limited to tailor-made treatment programs, relapse prevention, recovery wellness retreats, aftercare programs and recovery coaching. If you or someone you know is on the path to recovery, contact us today