Addictive Personalities: When One Addiction Is Replaced by Another
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Updated: May 16, 2022

Addictive Personalities: When One Addiction Is Replaced by Another

It is difficult to understand why some individuals become addicted to alcohol or drugs while others are not affected. Addiction replacement occurs when a person in recovery substitutes any addiction with another to produce the same feeling. The prevalence of such a replacement confirms that addiction is a disease.

There are specific risk factors that can determine if an individual carries a higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs. Still, research on substance abuse has concluded that the addictive personality does not exist.

A particular personality type does not mean that addiction will develop. However, alcohol or drug dependence consists of various factors that increase an individual's risk of developing other habits, behaviors, or activities.

Traits of Individuals With Increased Risk of Developing Addictive Behaviors

Since addiction is a chronic disease that affects brain chemistry, a mixture of elements plays into a person’s risk for addiction; the more risk factors that are present result in a greater risk for addiction.

Some traits in individuals who have a higher risk of becoming addicted include:

  • Inability to self-regulate
  • Having a relative who struggles with addiction
  • Development of co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Obsessive or compulsive tendencies
  • Having adventurous qualities
  • Being disconnected or cautious
  • Being unconcerned throughout daily life

Replacing One Addiction With Another

When someone is in addiction recovery, they may replace one addiction with another to fulfill an emotional or psychological void. If treatment fails to resolve the individual’s pre-existing negative feelings or problems, they can be more susceptible to substituting addictions.

Replacement of addictions can result from various influences involving the need to reduce anxiety, discomfort, or stress. Common substitutes include:

  • Nicotine addiction
  • Internet addiction
  • Work addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Gambling addiction
  • Food addiction

The Risks of Replacing Addictions

There is always the risk of one addiction leading to another, known as multiple addictions, which occurs when the individual no longer feels pleasure from the alcohol or other substance. It is essential to consider that most people in addiction recovery tend to experience co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety.

Scientific studies have proven that a person’s dopamine levels play a critical role in their addictive behavior. Satisfying experiences produce a large amount of dopamine release in the brain.

Alcohol or drugs may cause dopamine levels to multiply 10 times more than average. Over time, repeated substance use stops the brain’s natural response to produce dopamine, leading to the risk of one toxic substance or trait replacing other unhealthy habits.

How to Recognize Addiction Replacement

individuals often replace their addictions with what appears to be harmless or healthy activities and behaviors. On the surface, everything may seem to be going well. However beneficial these new behaviors may seem, they can produce similar consequences that alcohol or drug addiction causes. Some signs of addiction replacement are:

  • Continuously thinking about the new behavior or activity
  • Losing sleep due to the compulsive behavior
  • Problems at work, school, or home
  • Disregarding self-care or personal hygiene
  • Relationship problems with friends or family members
  • Feeling stressed or anxious if unable to participate in the new habit

How to Regulate Addictive Behaviors: Prevention and Treatment

There is only one approach to stopping addiction replacement, which entails working with a team of professionals who use evidence-based treatment that includes medical and mental health services as needed.

Treating the underlying cause of the habitual behavior or activity and working through any unconscious feelings are critical for a successful and lasting recovery.

It’s vital for a person to acknowledge if they are exchanging alcohol or drugs with another behavior or substance to a detrimental degree. A counselor can help their clients learn how to recognize their riggers and addictive thought processes to prevent replacement addictions from developing further while teaching coping skills within the treatment method.

Avoid Addiction Replacement: Finding a Balance After Treatment

The key to long-term success in recovery is finding a balance in life. Making a schedule of activities related to recovery helps a person remember the significance of staying sober, such as working, healthy eating, exercising, taking time to relax, getting enough sleep, and avoiding doing too much at once.

An exception that counselors may agree is a positive replacement for addiction is finding a peer-to-peer support group after successful addiction treatment. Finding like-minded people with similar backgrounds who understand what it takes to work through every day can be vital to those in recovery.

Becoming involved in a 12-Step program (such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or Cocaine Anonymous) or SMART Recovery can help alleviate the anxiety or loneliness individuals feel in early recovery while providing companionship and accountability. According to Dr. Igor Koutsenok, Director of the  UCSD Center for Criminality and Addiction Research, without this type of association, long-term sobriety can not be sustained.

There is always hope if you believe you may be addicted to a substance, behavior, or activity. If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol or drug addiction, we want to help. Present Moments Recovery in San Diego, California, provides an individualized approach to addiction with many levels of care to ensure a successful recovery. Our compassionate team of professionals will work with you one-on-one to provide the best treatment plan for you. At our family-run treatment center, you will be able to talk with therapists one-on-one, providing the best outcome possible. We focus on extended treatment that is less intensive to promote long-term recovery. Here, clients are given a calming and home-like environment where they can finally heal. Present Moments Recovery center believes recovery only happens in the present moment. Call us today and learn more about our services at (619) 363-4767.


If you or a loved one is looking for an effective drug rehab in San Diego, call 619-363-4767. One of our caring members is ready to answer all of your questions.

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