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The Dangers of Replacing One Addiction With Another

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

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The Dangers of Replacing One Addiction With Another cover

‍Did you know that the majority of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts struggle with a new addiction once they’ve conquered their old one? It’s true. Many people who seek help for their substance abuse problems find themselves struggling again in as little as two years. The sad thing is that it often happens because they replaced one addiction with another. Let’s take a look at why this happens and what we can do to avoid falling into the same trap if we have a drinking problem or are ready to quit drinking for good. Read on to learn more about replacing one addiction with another, and how you can break the cycle of addictive behavior for good.

What Is Replacing One Addiction With Another?

When someone replaces one addiction with another, they’re engaging in addictive behavior to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression. It’s a pattern of behavior that involves engaging in an unhealthy activity to cope with negative moods or feelings. When someone replaces one addiction with another, they’re not truly recovering. They’re not learning how to live without the negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that their old addiction provided.

How Does Replacing One Addiction With Another Work?

When someone replaces one addiction with another, they use an unhealthy coping mechanism – such as food, sex, gambling, work, or another compulsive activity – as a way to deal with mental health issues. Behavioral psychology indicates that any activity, even non-drugs, can be addictive. Many times, people who engage in addictive behaviors such as eating, gambling, or compulsive shopping are not even aware that they’re doing it for the same reasons as someone who drinks or does drugs. To truly recover from addiction, you have to learn to manage your emotions and feelings in a healthier way. You have to learn that it’s possible to live a fulfilling life without turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Why Do People Replace One Addiction With Another?

People who replace one addiction with another usually have underlying mental health issues. They might have depression, anxiety, or an untreated trauma issue that causes them to turn to alcohol or drugs to cope. This is known as comorbidity. Once they stop drinking or taking drugs, these mental health issues remain untreated. When you stop drinking, you must also deal with the underlying issues that caused you to drink in the first place. Otherwise, you’re likely to replace one addiction with another. If you don’t learn how to manage and cope without alcohol, you’re likely to turn to other things to deal with issues such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, relationship issues, and trauma. Even if you’re not dealing with depression or anxiety, you may be dealing with other mental health issues such as stress, relationship problems, or work issues. Whatever the cause, you need to learn how to deal with your feelings in a healthy way. Otherwise, you risk replacing one addiction with another.

The Dangers of Replacing One Addiction With Another

When you replace one addiction with another, you’re essentially adding to the problems in your life. You’re adding another thing to your plate that you have to deal with and control. You’re adding stress, excess anxiety and pressure to your daily life. You may also be putting people around you at risk. You’re also likely to create more problems in your relationships and finances. Moreover, you may experience more shame and guilt, as you will inevitably feel bad about yourself for not being able to deal with the issues in your life in a healthy way.

Strategies for Rewiring Your Brain and Quitting for Good

Truth be told, you can quit drinking for good. You can get help and overcome your addiction. But to do so, you have to make sure that you’re replacing one addiction with another that’s not likely to draw you back into addictive habits. When you replace one addiction with another, you have to ensure that the new addiction is healthy and not likely to cause you to fall back into addiction. The best way to do this is to utilize healthy coping mechanisms, such as therapy, exercise, mindfulness, or journaling. These activities can help you manage your emotions and feelings in a healthy way. They can help you learn how to cope with life’s challenges without turning to addictive behaviors.

These activities are rewarding and can become lasting habits. Rather than offering short term feelings of pleasure followed by negative consequences, they gradually improve your life and your long-term success.

Learning a Recovery Lifestyle at Design For Recovery Sober Living

When you’re dealing with addiction, it can feel like there are no solutions. You might feel as if you have no way out and that your situation is hopeless. Replacing one addiction with another may seem like a good idea at the time, but in the long run it doesn’t help. Instead, this simply masks the problem and makes it more likely that you will relapse again in the future.

Reducing or removing one addiction may open up opportunities to tackle another addiction or vice. By tackling them all at once you can avoid putting your recovery at risk. Understanding how replacing one addiction with another works and knowing its potential risks can help you make better decisions for yourself moving forward.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a drinking problem, don’t wait to get help. The longer you wait to address your addiction, the more likely it is that you’ll fall back into it again. Get help now and put yourself on track to a healthier and happier future. If you’re ready to quit drinking for good, you can start by learning more about the recovery process and getting prepared for your journey. We invite you to explore our website to learn more about the recovery process, how to quit drinking for good, and how Design For Recovery’s sober living home can help you succeed.


Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

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