Could You Be Replacing Your Addiction With Another?

How common is Addiction Replacement?

The warnings and fears of “addiction replacement” are plentiful for anyone in substance use disorder treatment, whether they come from well-meaning loved ones or others in the recovery community. The concept of “replacing one addiction for another” during the treatment process has been around for a long time, but it affects people differently.

Understanding Addiction Replacement

While in treatment, many patients may instinctually redirect their urge to use the substance they’re addicted to with a substance or activity in an attempt to compensate for the feeling of lacking something they desire. This could mean instead of using, they develop irregular eating habits and rituals such as bingeing or restricting, working out profusely, engaging in risky romantic encounters, gambling, or pouring themselves into work after hours. It can also lead some to misuse other substances, especially those that seem more socially acceptable in society, such as alcohol or marijuana.

Many think that addiction replacement is due to someone having an “addictive personality,” but that’s a common misconception that alludes to addiction being a “choice” rather than a disease. In fact, data shows that people in addiction recovery are actually less at risk of new substance use disorders. Addiction replacement behavior stems from a much deeper place, and those who engage in it tend to believe that their new compulsion is less harmful or the “lesser of two evils” as a way to rationalize.

Signs of Addiction Replacement:

The newly found activity or substance cause:

  • Obsessive thoughts

  • Losing sleep

  • Falling behind at school or work

  • Relationship problems

  • Financial strain

  • Neglected self-care

  • Stress and anxiety when not engaging

Preventing and Treating Addiction Replacement

In most cases, when someone in treatment replaces one addiction with another, it’s because they’re craving fulfillment of an emotional need that they once felt while using substances. Now that they’re treating their addiction, they’ve had to adjust their coping mechanism, which calls for replacing their drug use with something else. This bhavior suggests they have yet to work on deep-seated issues potentially involving unaddressed trauma or emotional pain that led them to misuse drugs in the first place, making substance use counseling vital during treatment.

Substance use counseling is an essential part of any comprehensive medication-assisted treatment program. Patients meet with specialized and experienced counselors that help them better understand the path that led them to drug use by identifying life experiences that have left a profoundly negative or traumatic impact as well as unknown triggers. People in treatment also benefit from individual and group substance use counseling by learning new ways to manage their unfulfilled needs without engaging in destructive behaviors while building a much-needed support network of like-minded peers.

Middlesex Recovery is dedicated to providing comprehensive addiction treatment for those looking to address their substance use disorder. The specialized medical providers and nursing staff at Middlesex facilities prioritize patient comfort and confidentiality while attending outpatient recovery services. An experienced team of administrative coordinators and substance use counselors ensures that patients are in control of their treatment and are given the best chance at long-lasting recovery. Give us a call today to learn more, or message us here for more information.