Dangers of Replacing Addictions Rather than Healing
Many people replace one addiction with a behavior or problem that is different in an effort to overcome the first addiction. For instance, you may have a problem with shopping compulsive so you focus your attention on browsing for products online without spending. This in turn creates an addiction to the internet. Likewise, an individual may be addicted to caffeine but in an effort to cut back, they begin exercising instead of drinking coffee. The exercise is not compulsive and has replaced the previous addiction.
Unfortunately, anytime one addiction, whether a substance use problem or a behavioral problem, is substituted for another problem, there are dangers. Any use of a substance or any repeated activity that interferes with one’s regular routines and is compulsive is dangerous. It’s important to understand that replacing one addiction with another is not only unsafe, it’s unhealthy too.
It’s easy to overlook behavioral changes that take place when an individual is attempting to overcome an addict. Unfortunately, failure to recognize significant changes in behavior may give way to another case of addiction. Substituting addictions can be an aggressive and difficult to cope with problem. Some of the ways that a substance use problem can be substituted with another addiction include:
- Replacing substance use with food.
- Replacing substance use with exercise.
- Replacing substance use with sexual involvement.
- Replacing substance use with becoming more involved with work.
- Replacing substance use with another form of substance use.
Recognizing a New Addiction
According to the National Library of Medicine, a replacement or substitution addiction is often spotted with similar characteristics or signs to that of the original addiction. The individual may:
- Take part in repeated activities that consume his or her life.
- Spend excessive time on a new activity or drug similar to the amount of time that was previously spent on another addiction.
- Downplay the new addiction and act as if there’s nothing wrong.
- Be unable to control the behavior.
- Suffer various negative impacts as a result of the new addiction.
Substituted addictions are a sign that the previous addiction is still a problem just as much as the new addiction is. In fact, people who substitute one addiction for another are more likely to fall back into old habits and really haven’t healed at all. It’s important to seek counseling and therapy to get to the bottom of the addiction and to prevent further substitutions from occurring.