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Why substituting one addiction for another never works out

Substituting one addiction for another

Many people see addiction as being a singular thing. For example, looking at a drug addict as a person who relies on a specific kind of drug. In reality, it’s usually the type of feeling that they seek – the high or sense of euphoria that comes with taking that drug. As such, when they’re unable to get ahold of that drug, they tend to look for replacements. But substituting one addiction for another, like throwing yourself into your office job to replace a substance dependency, isn’t a good idea, and here’s why.

The problems with replacement

The reality of addiction is that it is a disease. Addiction isn’t just something that you can replace with something else.

That is because the root cause is the person in question and their addictive tendencies. Even if someone invests in recovering from addiction, they’re never going to be freed from their addictive personality unless they tackle that head-on.

Also, depending on what is the replacement, it could put you in more danger. One example is replacing a drug with something much more potent than the original. It could be something made in someone’s home or using store-bought ingredients.

In this post, let’s look at why replacing one addiction for another never works out. Also included in the discussion are long-term strategies for addiction recovery.

Understanding what substituting addictions means

The concept of addiction replacement is simple; you swap your current addiction with something else in its place.

Sadly, this “swap” is one that some people view as positive as it extinguished the original obsession. But, the root cause is never dealt with.

For example, some folks believe that replacing a drug addiction with work is a good thing. Unfortunately, overworking yourself is never good and if you develop a dependency on work, it can actually reduce your quality of life in other areas. Attempting to replace an addiction with a different one isn’t helpful because you’re not dealing with the root issue.

In most cases, people swap addictions out because it fills a void. It gives them some kind of positive reinforcement and it can easily be transferred as long as the individual gets some kind of joy or fills a need with their addiction.

A good example of this is in people addicted to specific kinds of substances, such as drugs, alcohol, or even smoking. The emotional response they experience after taking that kind of substance is what they chase, again and again.

There’s no such thing as a good addiction

For many people, if they had to choose between addiction to drugs and addiction to work, it’s obvious which one they’d choose. After all, far more positivity can come from a fixation on work than drugs, such as gaining more money and advancing your career. However, that’s not really the same as a real addiction to work.

Being addicted to work is not a pleasant feeling. It’s a mental health condition that can cause you to lose sleep, and you might develop an intense fear of failing at work because you’re so reliant on it.

This mental illness can also degrade your personal relationships. It might even hinder your growth on the job because you’re too afraid to take risks. You might also avoid developing relationships outside of the workplace because your life revolves around the professional environment.

There are many addictions like this that are often misrepresented and taken too lightly. If you’re addicted to something, it’s not going to be a good experience. While it’s far more complex than that, it still holds true.

Addiction is going to be painful, hurt your relationships, and put you under an intense amount of stress. So, don’t take addictions lightly, no matter what they revolve around.

Instead, take them seriously; consider the effects of addiction and how it could negatively impact your life. Even if you think that replacing a drug addiction with a work addiction can be positive, the reality is that neither of them is ideal and the root problem is your addictive personality.

Personality type and substituting addictions

An addictive personality is the most common reason for succumbing to addiction. Whether it pertains to drugs, work, video games, or even social media, an addictive personality needs serious treatment. That is if you want to effectively gain control over it and avoid swapping it for future addictions.

Personalities can be incredibly complex, and while there are traits that point to an addictive personality, it’s hard to quantify this. As such, it’s important to understand more about your unique personality so that you can identify addictive traits and situations that trigger impulses, so that you can deal with them one by one.

For this, it’s usually best to seek out addiction experts, such as Enterhealth. While these rehab clinics specialize in coping with substance abuse, they can also help you overcome a range of other addictions. Ultimately, the focus is on stamping out your impulses.

There are many things that will lead to someone developing an addictive personality, and an expert with an objective and experienced viewpoint can help you uncover those problems. It requires you to go on a journey of self-discovery to understand why you’re so reliant on certain substances or activities, but also how you can overcome those issues.

To finally live free of the tight grasp of addictions is the ultimate goal. All without substituting one addiction for another.

Avoiding behaviors that associate with an addictive personality

If you believe that you’re facing behavioral addiction, seek out a specialist to help you. You can also begin to regain control with certain kinds of avoidance. Here are two examples:

Avoid resorting to something that makes you feel better after a bad day.

This one might sound like a strange tip at first. But the idea is to avoid developing a dependency on something that uplifts your mood after a hard day or a challenging moment. For example, many people find themselves emotionally eating when under stress, which can lead to a variety of health issues.

Disconnect yourself now and then.

Many people who stay hyper-connected on social media find it very hard to break away from using the internet to fulfill a certain emotional need. Try to limit your screen time and focus on varying your activities to help you feel better.

Substituting one addiction for another doesn’t help you or anyone else. Using sober living homes to get you through your addiction may not have occurred to you before, and the specialists there can help you to learn what your addictive behaviors are and how to improve them. Your addiction isn’t going to go away overnight, but you can learn to get a handle on it and ensure that you get through it in one piece. You deserve so much more than to be left wondering how to get help. The sober living homes out there right now are going to make a massive difference to the way that you cope and they can give you something you can’t get elsewhere: hope.

15 thoughts on “Why substituting one addiction for another never works out”

  1. My son is now an iv heroin addict( I can’t believe I can even write that complete sentence 😭) he has lost everything he worked for for 10 years plus his family. I would give anything- including my life to have him addicted to anything besides THAT….. Sometimes people just need the time….to transition. .new habits take time…. And with a addictive hijacked brain they aren’t in the best place to make those positive changes.

    1. Samantha, I am so sorry to hear about your son. You are there for him and he is so lucky to have you, and I hope he gets help soon. It is frustrating when we want someone to get healthy but can’t make them; they have to want it for themselves.

  2. Notable adverse childhood experiences—including immense daily schoolyard stressors like chronic bullying—suffered by adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder can readily lead to a substance use disorder. This, of course, can also lead to an adulthood of debilitating self-medicating.

    The greater the drug-induced euphoria or escape one attains from its use, the more one wants to repeat the experience; and the more intolerable one finds their sober reality, the more pleasurable that escape should be perceived. By extension, the greater one’s mental pain or trauma while sober, the greater the need for escape from reality, thus the more addictive the euphoric escape-form will likely be.

    If the ASD adolescent is also highly sensitive, both the drug-induced euphoria and, conversely, the come-down effect or return to their burdensome reality will be heightened thus making the substance-use more addicting.

    I found this for myself from my own experience as a child, teenager and adult with ASD. The self-medicating method I utilized during most of my pre-teen years was eating.

    1. That’s great that you’re working at reducing your cigarette intake, Michael. It takes time and effort ~ Sounds like you’re on the right track, especially with vegetables as the substitute, rather than candy!

  3. This is a very good read, Christy! Thank you for posting it. Addiction can be a hard issue to talk about so it’s great that you brought up the topic. And there are some very useful tips in this post.

    1. Thanks! I know it’s been awhile! I’ve been getting used to my new job and veering away from writing as much as I used to. Hope you’re having a great 2021 so far 😊 🥰

  4. Agreed, it is so important that the rooted problem is looked at when someone is trying to overcome addiction. While although the thought of being addicted to working doesn’t seem so bad, I feel it can still be extremely consuming and affect the person and the people around them.

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