There are many different names for the term transfer addiction.   This common occurrence can also be referred to as addiction replacement, cross addiction, or a substitute addiction.  No matter what you call them, as someone in recovery, they are something you certainly want to avoid, and something you must be highly vigilant against.  In simple terms, a transfer addiction occurs when an individual in recovery substitutes one addiction for another.   This usually begins during or soon after the treatment process for the original addiction. For example, someone who is in recovery for an opiate addiction may soon find that even though he or she is successfully avoiding opiates and is feeling great about the progress made, his or her time, money, and energy is instead now going to online poker or sports betting. Although the addicted individual has managed to overcome one addiction, another has slid into his or her life to take its place.  Even though the replacement addiction may not be as dangerous as the original one, it’s still an addiction.  In some cases, a transfer addiction may even be to something positive – like working hard or exercising – but as all recovering addicts know, too much of anything is bad news for the human body, mind, and spirit, and needs to be addressed swiftly, and sooner, rather than later.

Why Does This Happen?

Unfortunately, once you have struggled with one addiction, you are at much greater risk of another.  Addiction cannot be cured; if you become addicted to a substance or activity, you will be an addict for the rest of your life. Thankfully, though, it can be managed, and many people are successful in recovery.  The chronic nature of addiction simply reminds us that addiction is a disease.  Just as with other diseases, receiving treatment for your condition does not necessarily mean that you will never experience the negative symptoms of your disease again.  Treatment for addiction to one substance or activity does not mean you will never get addicted to something else in the future.

Individuals who experience transfer addictions are victims of their disease. In these cases, a new addiction takes the place of a previously addictive behavior in an effort to produce the same feeling or high.  The individual is not craving the substance itself, but is instead trying to fulfill an emotional need.

There are many ways that transfer addictions can begin.  Being newly clean and sober obviously isn’t easy, so many people turn to another substance or activity in an effort to relieve stress, pain, or anxiety.  Also, people who are newly sober may find that they have an overabundance of free time and money once they are no longer using, and may experience long periods of feeling bored; these times and situations are ripe for falling victim to a transfer addiction, too.  From a medical and scientific standpoint, recovery results in lowered dopamine levels in the brain, and that can make feeling happy or excited difficult in early recovery.  A new vice can diminish cravings and unpleasant side effects of withdrawal, and as a result, that vice can quickly grow into an addiction.

Common Transfer Addictions

There are many behaviors that can develop into addiction, so it’s important to recognize and consider a wide variety of them as potential threats for transfer addictions.  Some are obvious, and are physically dangerous, such as addictions to another controlled substance, smoking, or binge eating and other eating disorders. Others may seem harmless at first, or comparatively harmless, and include things like gambling, pornography, video games, or shopping; however, ongoing abuse of these things can result in some very negative end results.  Finally, some transfer addictions may actually seem to be positive and beneficial at first – and they may very well be, in the proper amounts – such as sex, exercise, and working.  Although these three things, when done in moderation are good for you, when pursued in excess, they can lead to a wide variety of problems.

Signs of an Emerging Transfer Addiction

Luckily, as a recovering addict, you are likely quite familiar with the signs of addiction.  However, you are also likely quite familiar with denial.  Take a good look at yourself and your habits and activities in recovery, and take time to truly evaluate your involvement in various things on a day-to-day basis.  Signs of a transfer addiction may include things as simple as constantly thinking about a particular substance or activity, or encountering problems at work, home, or school as a result of it. If you are neglecting important responsibilities or self-care or personal hygiene, you may be in trouble. As time goes on, symptoms can become even worse and may include loss of sleep in order to participate in the activity, stress or anxiety if unable to participate in the activity, or even development of depression and suicidal thoughts.  Most importantly, you should listen to friends and family when  they are concerned about you; oftentimes an outside person can see an issue of yours better and more clearly than you can.

How to Treat Transfer Addictions

            As mentioned above, addiction is rarely about the actual substance or activity to which you are addicted, but is instead more often about underlying issues such as depression, anxiety, or past trauma. As a result, transfer addictions should be treated just like any other addiction – through professional guidance and therapy.  An ibogaine detox treatment, like the experiences offered at Clear Sky Recovery, for example, can help you get to the root cause of your addiction, and then you can move forward more clearheadedly from there. Only once you have determined the cause of your addiction, and have pursued counseling and therapy to work through it, will you be able to achieve sustainable recovery from all addictions.  As with your original addiction, it is important to admit you have a problem, be aware of potential triggers, attend support groups, stay in touch with your sponsor, and talk to a counselor.  Address the root problem of your addictions and treat them, and only then will you become free.

At Clear Sky Recovery, we would love to help you get to the root of your addiction so you can become free of it and remain free of future transfer addictions, too.  Please call us today to findout more about our ibogaine detox treatment, and about our beautiful facilityon the beach in Cancun, Mexico.  Our intake specialists are standing by to answer your questions, and we can’t wait to hear from you!