4 Ways to Not Trade One Addiction for Another

Content reviewed by Karen Rubenstein, LMFT, Chief Clinical Officer at Cliffside Malibu

Addictions, either to substances or behaviors, are common.  While trying to recover from this disease, you may find yourself replacing one addiction with another.

Substance abuse has the power to completely control your life, causing the substance to become your main focus. When beginning on the journey of recovery, you may feel incomplete and be susceptible to forming other addictions.

Learning healthy coping strategies to overcome the cycles of addiction can help you live a more stable life. Here are a few ways to avoid trading one addiction for another.

Addiction Transfers Usually Occur in Early Recovery

While recovering from addiction, you may try to fill the void of stopping one drug by using another substance, action or experience to take its place. If you are in early recovery, you may have developed addictive habits even if you aren’t aware of them and may seek to find pleasure from another area in life.

Although addictions can form with many things, there are common addictions that are often swapped for one another. Here are a few of the most common substitute addictions:

  • Shopping
  • Gambling
  • Sex or pornography
  • Work
  • Relationships
  • Exercise
  • Food
  • Other Substances

Why Trading One Addiction for Another Is Dangerous

Transferring one addiction for another can be dangerous for many reasons. Addiction develops into a dangerous cycle that affects your health, finances, relationships, mental and psychological health and overall well-being.  When you replace one addiction for another, even if the action or behavior doesn’t seem as dangerous as drug use, it still has the potential to negatively affect you. Too much of anything can become a problem.  It is also dangerous because it can lead you back to your original addiction. This can cause you to stay in and out of treatment due to constantly cycling back and forth between addictions.

Tips to Avoid Swapping Addictions

Learning how to make necessary changes in your life will help you avoid trading addictions. Having a support system, trying new hobbies, learning how to maintain healthy relationships and coping strategies will allow you to avoid addiction transfer. Here are a few tips to get you started.

#1 Create a support group through therapy

Talking one-on-one with a mental health professional allows an outside perspective to help you identify addictive behaviors and if another addiction has developed in the place of another. Support groups allow you to meet and talk with people who have been through similar experiences. Share your experiences with others during support group meetings.  Have a conversation with your peers and learn what strategies they use that have helped them. Creating a support system with people in your support group allows you to grow a community with others who have similar struggles.

#2 Now is the time to explore new hobbies and activities

Instead of swapping out one addiction for another, explore new hobbies and activities that bring you fulfillment. Staying sober requires you to shed old habits and unhealthy relationships that put you at risk of relapse.

Explore hobbies or activities you have always had the desire to try. If you have always wanted to learn to cook or to play a certain instrument, now is the perfect time to learn.

Sobriety will require you to leave behind old ways and possibly people that influenced your drug use. Now is the time to branch out and try new activities and meet new people.

#3 Recognize the difference between a healthy hobby and an addiction

To maintain a healthy lifestyle, you must learn how to have a sense of balance in your life. Exercising, getting the proper nutrients and the proper amount of sleep are essential in life but they can easily become unhealthy you become obsessive. It can be difficult for you to see when an activity you enjoy has become an addiction. Ask trusted people in your life that can observe your behaviors to give you another perspective of whether or not you are forming a new addiction.

#4 Find coping strategies that work best for you

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can teach you new skills to help you cope with the urge to use, also known as cravings. Talk to your therapist about activities that can be an alternative to your substance use, such as self-care habits. When you feel a craving, try taking a hot bath, yoga or journaling your feelings. Self-care is a form of taking actions that help you maintain a healthy relationship with yourself, which is essential in recovery.

Receiving Treatment for Addiction Requires Professional Help

If you find yourself replacing one addiction with another, finding evidence-based treatment options may be needed for your recovery process. Talking to a professional will help you get to the root of your addiction. Once you can identify what is truly causing your addictive tendencies, you can start to look for the treatment best suited for your circumstances. Utilize resources to help overcome your addiction, and create relationships that will guide you through sobriety.

During addiction treatment, you will be encouraged to try new things that allow you to detach from your previous lifestyle. As you explore and find things you like, it is important to be mindful that you are not swapping one addiction for a new one. Receiving professional help will allow you to get started on a treatment plan best fit for your situation. As you go through therapy you will learn how to maintain a healthy relationship with the things that please you.

Overcoming addiction will be a lifelong recovery process that will require continuous dedication and support from others. Learn new skills that will help you develop new and healthy coping strategies. Decide to take back your life and stay successful at sobriety. Know that you don’t have to do this alone, and creating a support system with both your loved ones and mental health professionals is key. If you are afraid you may be replacing one addiction with another, know that there is help out there waiting for you. Cliffside Malibu is committed to helping you at every point in your recovery process, tackling the root cause of your addiction, which may be related to deep-seated trauma and pain. We are here to help you heal and move forward with your life. Call (844) 919-4671 to speak with an admission counselor and get started on the best journey you can make.