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Are You Substituting Your Addiction in Recovery?

By: Shannon Persad September 17, 2019 no comments

Are You Substituting Your Addiction in Recovery?

During addiction, dopamine levels increase during drug use, creating dependency on that drug.

Once people have entered sobriety, they may turn to substitutes. For instance, many recovering addicts may turn to nicotine, caffeine, or sweets.

However, having a substitute addiction can be harmful to your health, despite being in recovery. Because you’re addicted to something else, it doesn’t mean you’ll always be an addict. However, having a substitute that brings out your bad habits doesn’t help the recovery process either.

Common Substitute Addictions

There are some substitutes for addiction that aren’t so harmful, such as reading, movies, exercising, or work.

Although excessively doing certain activities can have a negative impact. For instance, too much exercising, shopping, eating, or gaming can lead to health consequences, financial struggles, and unproductivity.

Gambling has said to be an addiction in itself, and substituting that for your past drug addiction may regress your recovery progress.

Warning Signs Someone Is Substituting an Addiction

A study from Harvard suggests that addictive drugs produce dopamine ten times more than anything else. As a result, the natural production of dopamine comes to a halt. The lack of dopamine will make a person not feel pleasure unless they consume the drugs they ingested before recovery.

Because there is now an imbalance in the brain, seeking a substitute for addiction becomes likely. Not all addictions are obvious, however.

Common signs a person is substituting an addiction:

  • Isolation
  • Weight changes
  • Financial problems
  • Losing sleep
  • Missing work or school
  • Increase in anxiety
  • An excessive amount of time on an activity


This phenom of substituting addictions can be called cross-addiction. Moreover, it’s a result of compulsive behaviors that may occur during recovery. That’s why raising awareness is essential, as many people may not know they are substituting an addiction.

If you feel you need help, contact a professional or a treatment facility.

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