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What Are Replacement Addictions?

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Addiction is an incredibly destructive disease, affecting one’s physical and mental health in equal measure. For those suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, taking action to overcome this disease is paramount, and dedicated detox and recovery programs are available each step of the way. Yet, “recovery” means different things to different people, and those looking to cease their use of drugs or alcohol may not recognize the development of replacement addictions in their stead. 

While an individual may make strides in their goal to cut down and eliminate the use of addictive substances, addiction can take other forms throughout the process. Recovery is a wholly transformative experience that introduces agency and balance to a person’s life. This is not just in consideration of their use of addictive substances, but also in creating a truly balanced lifestyle free from the development of replacement addictions. 

What Are Replacement Addictions? 

Replacement addictions take many forms and are classified as anything that seeks to directly replace one’s use of an addictive substance. For some, instead of drinking alcohol, they may use cigarettes or go on a shopping trip. When left unmoderated, these strategies can introduce an entirely new addiction beneath the surface. 

Identifying replacement addictions can be difficult, especially as one’s focus is on success with the cessation of the use of drugs or alcohol. Although, as an individual celebrates their accomplishments, they must also manage their use of particular coping strategies to ensure that there is not an overreliance on a single developing replacement addiction. 

Cigarettes are a common replacement addiction, and those using drugs or alcohol may also smoke cigarettes regularly. With the decrease in the use of other addictive substances, an individual may consequently increase their use of cigarettes to create a similar feeling of forced comfort as they cope with anxiety, depression, stress, or any other emotional turmoil experienced in recovery. Some individuals addressing their use of drugs may even feel like alcohol is a healthier alternative strictly on terms of legality, despite alcohol’s equally as addictive and destructive properties.

Others may not replace addiction with another substance, but rather develop a behavioral addiction. Shopping, gambling, eating, and more are all behavioral replacement addictions that one may develop in an attempt to cease the use of drugs and alcohol. Sex, pornography, and even a person’s work can all be replacement addictions that act counter to their dedicated recovery efforts. 

The Dangers of Replacement Addictions

While on the surface, replacing one’s use of drugs or alcohol with a different behavior may seem like a positive step, there are still a number of concerns when it comes to replacement addictions. First, many replacement addictions have a significant emotional or financial impact on an individual’s life. Shopping and gambling can continue to cause major financial and budgeting concerns, leaving an individual still choosing between fueling an addiction or tending to basic needs like food or rent. Regardless of what kind of replacement addiction one is developing, it is the overreliance on a single outlet that can be most dangerous. 

Truly effective recovery is about an individual being able to balance their daily routine and mentality, schedule time for self-care, and manage their mental and emotional health. At the same time, they must develop the skills to remain abstinent from addictive substances. 

Replacement addictions overcentralize an individual’s coping strategies, leaving little room for the development of other coping skills while further ingratiating a single practice into their daily life. This overreliance can quickly become difficult to manage, and an individual can find themselves at an increased threat of slips or relapse when they do not have access to these replacement strategies during times of duress. 

Creating a Healthy Approach to Recovery

Each individual’s recovery journey will be unique, and no two people will have the same experiences or skills throughout recovery. Creating a balance in one’s life is crucial. Recovery is more than learning to quell the urges and cravings to engage with drugs or alcohol. It is instead an exercise in developing agency and learning how to create a healthy lifestyle overall by managing stress and urges while pursuing personal goals. 

Approaching recovery with an open mind is crucial for an effective recovery plan and to prevent the development of replacement addictions that may continue to impact an individual’s life. By addressing the mentality behind the use of addictive substances, previous experiences, traumas, and personal goals, each individual can pursue a healthier, sober mindset, rather than replacing one addiction with another. 

Nothing about recovery is easy, but engaging in an active, dedicated recovery program is about creating change rather than only addressing a single aspect of an individual’s life. This wholly transformative experience can develop into a truly fulfilling, healthy lifestyle. 

Replacement addictions can affect one’s life in a very destructive way, and avoiding the development of replacement addictions is crucial for maintaining a truly sober mentality. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, we understand the need for sobriety, both in the abstinence from addictive substances and the development of these destructive alternatives. Your time with us is focused on balance and sustained change. We are prepared to develop a recovery plan that is curated to your unique needs and goals throughout the recovery process. From medication-assisted treatment to individual therapy, group therapy, and experiential practices, we are ready to customize your program to your unique needs and goals throughout the recovery process. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your questions and concerns, call us today at (949) 426-7962.

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  • I would just like to share how Grateful I am with my experience through my addiction at this facility. I couldn’t possibly ask to be in such a “SAFE/COMFORTABLE” environment while receiving treatment for my addiction. I would just like to say Thank you sooo much to ALL the staff there from the Nurse’s to counselors and therapist all of you are a True Blessing in helping me through my journey of sobriety. I couldn’t feel more comfortable there on how they monitored my physical health and on dealing with my emotional health with there therapy sessions and groups I truly see them ALL as Family!

    Andrew N.
  • As a professional in the recovery field I have worked with many detox centers and none compare to The this one. Their staff is incredibly attentive and knowledgable regarding the needs of individuals seeking recovery from the very start. Their facility is welcoming and homey while remaining very luxe. I would recommend this facility to any loved one or friend looking to start down their journey of sobriety.

  • This place helped saved my life, and a great stepping stone to get my life on the right track. Was there first client under new management, caring staff and owners, comfortable place to get you on your feet in sobriety.

  • Great Staff. Comfortable Environment. Awesome place to Get Clean and Sober. Thank you guys for everything.


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