It is not uncommon for someone to start substituting addiction with one thing for another addiction. This falls in line with the idea that an addiction is a disease. Many people believe that once someone has entered into or completed treatment for an addiction, they will magically be “cured”. However this is not always the case. Some people may find something else to become addicted to. However, this is not always a great idea. Read more to find out why.

Substituting Addiction: What to Look Out For

Understanding It

Addiction replacement is classified by an individual in recovery substituting addiction for something with another addiction. This typically happens during or after the treatment process for the original addiction. Jeaneane Swanson is a journalist who specializes in mental health and addiction. She said, “Everyone who’s battled an addiction understands the concept: You go from smoking to eating; from drinking to shopping; from sex to chocolate to working. You’re substituting one addiction for another in an attempt to compensate for a perceived ‘lack’—emotionally or psychologically.”

The new addiction can take the place of a previous one. The hope would be that it would produce the same feeling or high for them. It is very easy to transfer the addiction of one habit or substance to another. If possible, try try and not let that happen.

Possible Substitutions

There is a wide range of different things people choose when they are substituting addiction. For example, common things include binge eating, gambling, work, sex, porn, exercise or shopping. Other such options may include benzos and nicotine. This is not a full list. There are many other things someone could be addicted to as well.

“It’s fair to say that more than 65% of people who have received treatment at [our treatment center] are having difficulties with more than one of the following: alcohol, drug or eating disorders, excessive gambling, impulse control, depression, and anxiety, ” according to Dr. Deni Carise. She is the Chief Clinical Advisor at Sierra Tucson treatment facility. The only thing it would be okay to get wrapped up in is possibly getting help from AA. A rehab councilor may suggest this.


There are signs that may mean if someone has started substituting one addiction for another one. These signs do not always mean that, but it makes it more likely. They may be always thinking about their new activity or vice. Also, it may be causing them to lose sleep in order to participate in new activity. They may be failing to take care of themself. Also, they could even be experiencing stress or anxiety if unable to complete the new activity.

Steps to Help

If you, or someone you know, has started substituting addiction of one thing for something else, seek help. So, in short, the first step is going to be looking at what underlying issues are causing these emotions and behaviors. The person having this problem should work with a counselor or sponsor to learn how to better identify their triggers and addictive patterns of thoughts. By taking these steps, they will be one step closer to breaking free.

As you can see, it is easy for someone to swap one addiction for another one. Now you have learned what to look for and steps to take. Understand, identify, and then get help. Finding a good balance in life is key.