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Replacing an addiction with another?

Discussion in 'Questions About Treatment' started by Kyler, Feb 28, 2016.

  1. Kyler

    Kyler Active Contributor

    Hello guys,

    This is a question that I have to many people and it is quite controversial, you might disagree or you might agree. I want to keep it respectful and done in a good manner.

    I personally have seen people who have treated some serious addiction with replacing it with another less harmful addiction. For example, someone who's addicted to going out drinking, or having drugs with his "bad friends", who one time got occupied in video games or "addicted" to video games and it helped him let go and it helped with his treatment, except, now he's addicted to "video games".

    Is that immoral to think that repalcing an addiction with another is a sort of treatment? Did you experience that before? I know I have.
    Deeishere likes this.
  2. kgord

    kgord Community Champion

    That happens alot, and I am not just talking about the heroin methadone thing, but food addiction is sometimes replaced by alcohol addiction or over exercising. I think not replacing an addiciton with another one is hard to do, but try to keep in mind all things in moderation.
  3. lost247

    lost247 Active Contributor

    I agree with you completely that some people just replace their drug use with something else. In hindsight, I would say about 2 years into my recovery, I noticed this being done with meetings and NA, which is part of why I decided to leave the program. I would sit and listen to people share day in and day out, and after a while I realized their new drug was going to multiple meetings a day and telling the same stories again and again. That is not to say that all members of the program are like this, there were only a handful I witnessed behaving like this. NA is the biggest thing that kept me clean my first year and I know I would never have succeeded in recovery had it not been for the foundation I got in the program. But there were people there who replaced their drug use several times a day with meetings several times a day.

    We cannot recover without facing the reason for our use, only then can we be successful in our recovery.
  4. SashaS

    SashaS Community Champion

    Perhaps substitution is better than just staying on that same addiction. For example, cocaine is less harmful than video games and junk food is less harmful than exercise. But it's much better if the substitution is moderated. Too much sitting inside playing games is bad and so is too much exercise is also lethal, but if either are done in moderation, they are enjoyable and healthy things. The addict must just learn to cope without that thing and find another way to spend that time, without spending too much time on that task. Perhaps finding multiple ways of spending that time is even better. For example, playing video games, then going out to exercise, then watching some t.v, like building a routine.

    When I was young, I replaced my gaming addiction with sitting on the internet all day when my computer burned out and I bought a less powerful one. Sure, I learned a lot more reading things on the internet than I ever did playing games, but I was still sitting inside. Ironically, my full time job involves sitting on a computer all day, so who knows...
    MrsJones likes this.
  5. remnant

    remnant Community Champion

    This phenomenon where one addiction is replaced with another is called compensation. And it works some of the time in this case if the substance abused is replaced with something physiologically uplifting like soups and yoghurts.
  6. djdrug

    djdrug Community Champion

    Well, I know someone who completely stopped smoking. He carried a flask full of strong coffee with him to work. I can tell you that none of his family members mind his new addiction to coffee. As long as he doesn't smoke another cigarette, they're fine. The doctors had told him he would suffer major heart issues and may not live long, so he made a choice. And I don't think in this case it was wrong. As long as its a non-lethal addiction, its fine.
  7. Deeishere

    Deeishere Active Contributor

    I think that as long as it helps to get rid of the most critical problem it's ok. People need to focus on something else to rid themselves of the addiction. I know with me I have issues with eating the wrong foods. When I get focus, I have the tendency to absorb myself into working out, spending hours reading success stories, and going to the library to get more books on health. I have to become somewhat a fanatic in my new life, but it helps me. As far as the video games as long as the person is living a productive life like working if they can. Like someone said moderation is the key. I know when people stop smoking, some will replace smoking with eating. The downside is the weight gain.
  8. djdrug

    djdrug Community Champion

    I agree, as long as it helps get rid of the most critical addiction, its fine. Video games won't kill you, but smoking will. Binge watching something or getting addicted to getting a high from social media won't hurt you, but getting a high using euphoric drugs will- it's that simple.
    Deeishere likes this.
  9. MrsJones

    MrsJones Community Listener Community Listener

    When my husband came out of inpatient treatment he had gained so much weight because he had replaced alcohol and drugs with food. He always loves to eat a good meal because he was a chef. Well because of the weight gain he developed hypertension and now is on medication for that.

    It's understood that replacing one addiction or 'compensating' it for another is a good possibility. One should be conscious about it so as not to encounter other health conditions or negative habits in the process.
  10. djdrug

    djdrug Community Champion

    Yeah. Its something that happens naturally and as long as one keeps an eye on the person who is going through this phase to make sure they don't go from one bad habit to another.
    MrsJones likes this.
  11. Vinaya

    Vinaya Community Champion

    I used to have chewing tobacco addiction. I switched to cigarette to give up my chewing tobacco addiction. I could not give up chewing tobacco, but was addicted to cigarette. Thus if you switch to another addiction to give up an addiction, it will never help
  12. melody

    melody Active Contributor

    I bite my nails now. I mean it, too. I might as well just bite my fingers off, that is how bad I bite them. What I did was exactly what you mentioned, replace one addiction with another. In my case, I replaced an addiction with a bad habit. It is a really awful, and unsanitary habit. I wish I could stop, but it is better than slipping back to the old ways.
  13. djdrug

    djdrug Community Champion

    You could try self-hypnosis. It worked for me. I don't remember where I saw it, but it was a pretty good technique. Maybe you can search it on YouTube. I used to bite my nails and I used to chew on my inner lip thing. Both were annoying and bad habits. Self-hypnosis removed them.
  14. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    It's possible to replace one addiction with something more productive. It doesn't have to a less harmful addiction — replace it with another habit. For example, someone who spent most of his night drinking could find a new hobby [something like drawing cartoons], and they spend that time learning how to draw and eventually they could even make some money from the skill they learn.
  15. mistermiranda

    mistermiranda Member

    I had a client who was a highly-functioning meth addict for about 10 years. He has been clean and sober for six now, but compensated for the meth addiction with social media. He's on his tablet for maybe eight hours per day, posting updates on his leisurely activities, photos, and a TON of recipes. I'm not too familiar with the pros/cons of compensation--especially with social media--but I'm all for it, as it's allowing him to reconnect with friends who were once distancing themselves, and it's not exactly harming him physically/physiologically. Also, the recipes that he has been sharing have been a lifesaver, as he is sharing healthy recipes with friends who are battling diabetes like him.
  16. Villiam

    Villiam Member

    If one addiction is much less harmful than the other, I would go for it. It really comes down to a matter of opinion, but that is the best advice I can think of.
  17. Nancy D.

    Nancy D. Senior Contributor

    Yes, this is easy to do and unfortunate. I have seen this happen many times in my life. It's almost like you in order to get over one addiction you end up replacing that with some type of hobby and people seem to get bored quicly so they take solace in doing something that makes them feel good. Some people start getting on social media heavily and this can be considered an addiction. I think everything should be in moderation.
  18. JohnBeaulieu

    JohnBeaulieu Community Champion

    Transference is possible in many cases, but it isn't always a replacement addiction. For example, people that switch from smoking cigarettes to using e-cigarettes didn't replace an addiction. The addiction is to the nicotine in this case, not the delivery method. In the case of developing new compulsive behaviors like excessive social media use, this isn't addiction replacement either because despite popular belief, social media addiction is not real. It is developing new problems as a result of not being able to cope with an addiction properly. Still very harmful, but not truly addiction replacement with another addiction.
  19. Dilof

    Dilof Member

    Depends on what you replace it with, there have been cases in which addicts of a drug have been killed by a drug that was meant to help them. Think of Methodone. Methodone was (and is) prescribed to heroin addicts in order to reduce their withdrawal symptoms. The problem is, is that Methodone itself is highly addictive and now these heroin addicts are addicted to methodone, which has more fatalities (percentage wise) than heroin itself. Finding a balance between these things is needed, and the safety of such "safer" drugs would need to be researched more to decide whether they actually are any better than the previously addictive drug.
  20. JohnBeaulieu

    JohnBeaulieu Community Champion

    It isn't exactly an addiction replacement. It is an opiate addiction being maintained via a different opiate with less of the effects sought after by somebody using heroine. It is an attempt to maintain the fulfillment of the addiction without the high. Chemical trickery so to speak. It doesn't always work and comes with it's own dangers. As for stats of deaths caused by methadone, you would be better served to look specifically at the stats of those being treated for addiction instead of using statistics that lump deaths from all sorts of usage together. It would provide a more accurate picture of the matter.