Understanding Addiction Transfer

addiction transfer

Understanding Addiction Transfer

When a person tries to walk on the often shaky and unstable path to recovery on their own, they are more than likely unaware of a condition known as cross-addiction. Mental health specialists also refer to this as addiction transfer.

Cross-addiction is a tactic that an addict employs to try to compensate for the uncomfortable changes in their habits and routines, wherein they begin to substitute one addiction for another.

Since it has the potential to cause a person to struggle with even more alcohol and substance abuse problems than they did before, it is important to understand how addiction transfer works. Taking the time to learn how it begins, the ways that addictions are often transferred, how to know if an addiction has become a problem, and what to do when you need help to get an addiction under control could help you stop the problem before it starts.

How Addiction Transfer Begins 

Many people turn to cross-addictions because of the advice of a counselor who is attempting to get them to switch to a healthier habit. The theory behind this method is that most people who struggle with addictions have an addictive personality, specific changes or damage to their brain, or a chemical imbalance in their brain. This makes it difficult for them to not be addicted to something all of the time.

If an individual’s addiction tendency can be diverted to something that is healthy for them, then, supposedly, their problems will be minimized. However, there are some cases where addictions are transferred to other substances instead.

What generally happens in this scenario is that an individual tries to quit using one particular substance, but the withdrawal symptoms seem too uncomfortable to deal with, so others encourage them to use another substance as a crutch to help them get through the tough situation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for them to become addicted to the new substance. 

The Different Ways That Addictions Are Transferred 

Most people who start transferring their addictions use a substance that will affect them in a similar way that the previous substance did. For example, a person who is used to using a certain amount of cocaine on a daily basis might switch to other amphetamines or “uppers” because they will induce the same energy boost and feelings of elation.

However, it is important to mention that not all individuals switch to another substance. Some may change their addiction to a habit that can cause them other problems. So, in other words, a person who is used to spending all of their time in a bar drinking alcohol may start to go on shopping sprees instead. Perhaps spending large amounts of money gives them a temporary high that helps them to avoid any negative emotions that they may be dealing with. Sex, pornography, gambling, and binge-eating are some of the other common addictions that an addict might use as a replacement as well. 

How to Know When a Transferred Addiction Has Become a Problem 

Like all addictions, there are signs that an individual needs to be aware of to determine whether or not their new addiction has escalated into something bigger than they can handle. Using any substance that is illegal, or even just having it in your possession, can lead to jail time, fines, and other problems. So if someone is willing to risk these consequences for the sake of an addiction, this is a serious warning sign that they need to consider getting help.

Some other things to look out for include: 

  • Experiencing anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts whenever access to the transferred addiction isn’t possible 
  • Losing a job, home, relationship or friendship because of the addiction 
  • Obsessive thoughts about how to get more of something related to the addiction 
  • Health problems because of the addiction 
  • Money problems that are directly caused by the addiction 

What to Do When You Need Help to Get an Addiction Under Control 

The first step to conquering any addiction is admitting that there is a problem in the first place. This might sound simple to do for someone who has never struggled with any kind of addiction before, but for those who have transferred one addiction for another, it can feel very self-defeating. Those struggling with addiction transfer may feel like they have conquered one problem, but now they have a new one to deal with.

The only way to end the cycle of continuously transferring harmful addictions is to deal with the underlying emotions or chemical imbalances that are causing the problem in the first place.

Attempting to quit alone is hard and you don’t have to walk this journey by yourself. Take advantage of our addiction treatment center at Springboard Recovery, we will help those who are ready to turn their life around and stop addictions for good. If you or someone you know is struggling with cross-addictions, or any other kind of alcohol or substance abuse problem, call today to make an appointment with one of our trusted care professionals.


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