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Many people tend to believe that if someone has managed to recognize that they had a problem, sought help for their addiction, found the help they needed, and managed to stick to the path of recovery for that addiction for a while, they are in the clear. Sure, many people experience minor relapses, but if they manage to get over that small bump in the road, then it should be smooth sailing from that point forward. The more time that passes, the stronger that person becomes in his or her recovery from that substance or habit, and everything will be just fine from here on out.
In some cases, this is absolutely true. Once an addict has conquered his or her drug of choice, and put the effort and time in to get away from the addiction, things very well may work out for the best. However, it is vital for us to also recognize that addiction is a disease, and oftentimes, the addiction was not specifically about the substance or habit to which the person was addicted, but instead, about addiction itself. Some people are simply wired for addiction; it’s sad, and it’s challenging, but unfortunately, that’s just the way it is.
For people who simply have addictive personalities, conquering one addiction may not be enough. Transfer addictions, or addiction replacement, is very real and is something former addicts must be extremely vigilant to avoid.
What is a Transfer Addiction?
A transfer addiction is simply the continuation of the addictive personality through another substance or habit, and they can be very dangerous. Someone who used to be addicted to heroin may become addicted to gambling. Someone who was formerly addicted to compulsive eating could potentially become addicted to sex. A person who was addicted to cocaine may become an alcoholic. A former shopping addict may break that addiction but may find himself or herself addicted to work instead. The possibilities for transfer addictions, or addiction replacement, are endless, and according to people in the addiction recovery field, they happen very frequently when someone is not careful. This is why nearly all recovery programs request (or require) that their clients not only give up the substance that has caused them problems, but all intoxicating substances altogether. In their experience, they have found this suggestion to be wise, and according to science, they are probably right.
The fact is, many people who suffer from addiction are not addicted to that substance or behavior in particular; instead, they are addicted to a high, or a feeling, or even more specifically – an emotional need. Alcohol and drug use, and other addictions, including food and gambling addictions, actually rewire our brain chemistry. Once abusive use or behavior has reached the level of addiction, our brains will crave the substance or behavior – regardless of the negative consequences that may occur as a result.
Why Does Transfer Addiction 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 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.
How Do You Know You Are Experiencing a Transfer Addiction?
Transfer addictions usually start simply enough. At first, many even seem – and probably are – healthy and positive. Once an individual has successfully cut drug and alcohol abuse out of his or her life, it seems natural to direct the newfound energy and attention towards something like exercise or work. However, if one is not careful, even these constructive, beneficial things can become addictive.
How can you know that you are becoming addicted to something new? Well, the signs are similar to the signs you likely saw when you realized your drug or alcohol use was becoming problematic. You may want to give things some thought if you experience any of the following feelings or behaviors.
- You can’t stop thinking about the activity, even when you aren’t participating in it.
- You begin to experience difficulties in your relationships as a result of your participation in the new activity.
- You spend more money on the new activity than is wise.
- You start to ignore other aspects of your life such as work, hygiene, or rest.
- You become stressed or uncomfortable if something impedes your ability to participate in the activity.
- You start to experience depressive or suicidal thoughts related to the activity.
If you are in recovery for drug or alcohol addiction, and you are experiencing any of these feelings about anything in your life, then you may be at risk for, or may already be involved in, a transfer addiction. Depending on what it is and how deeply you are entrenched in it, you may need to seek professional help to break free of it.
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.
What to Do If You Have a Transfer Addiction
Thankfully, there are support groups out there for addictions and addictive behaviors of all kinds. If you are feeling dependent on something, chances are, there are many other people out there who are feeling the same way. Harness the energy of group therapy to help find likeminded people and also to learn strategies for overcoming the attachment.
Further, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to speak to your own personal therapist or addiction counselor about your concerns. He or she has likely heard it all, and will know the best way to help you. As with addiction to drugs or alcohol, the first step is recognizing that you have a problem, and although it is never easy to break away from an addiction, that first step is at least an initial step in the right direction.
How Ibogaine Can Treat Transfer Addiction
If you discover that you are the type of person who is drawn to one addiction after another, then perhaps an ibogaine detox could be of great help to you. What is ibogaine? Ibogaine is a psychoactive, psychedelic substance harvested from the root of Central Africa’s Tabernanthe iboga plant. It is used spiritually by followers of the Bwiti religion in Gabon, Cameroon, and the Republic of the Congo, but much research has found that it is also very effective in treating addiction.
Rather than “cure” an addiction, which is impossible, an ibogaine experience has been shown to initiate a sort of addiction “interruption” during which time an individual can work on underlying emotional and psychological factors that contribute to his or her addiction. This introspective time during the experience can be enough to change the entire path of one’s life and many people who have experienced it have reported no future cravings for a drug to which they were addicted for many years. In the long view, many people who have tried ibogaine for their addiction have remained clean and sober for good afterwards and truly feel that their experience with it saved their lives.
The idea of “resetting the brain” to help break the cycle and pain of addiction is becoming more and more popular today as this idea is becoming more understood. Although scientists still differ over the best way to initiate this reset, ibogaine is certainly one path to doing so, and it has helped countless addicts already. At Clear Sky Recovery, we offer ibogaine detox at our facility in Cancun, Mexico. Our staff is highly experienced in offering pre-care, medically supervised administration of ibogaine, and aftercare, and our intake specialists are standing by to answer any questions you may have about the ways in which ibogaine can help you. Please call us today. If you are caught in a vicious cycle of addiction after addiction, and have cycled through a number of different transfer addictions, we can help. Your addiction is clearly much deeper than the substance or behavior itself; addiction interruption, initiated by ibogaine, can help!
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.