What Is a Substitute Addiction?

Just as it sounds, a substitute addiction replaces an addiction you already have—something you definitely don’t want to happen. For those of us in recovery, we may develop an addiction to something other than drugs or alcohol. This is significant in showing that our issues with addiction aren’t necessarily about the substance. Rather, it’s our thinking and behaviors that are the root of the problem. The following are five common examples of when we replace one addiction with another:

  1. Food Addiction – Food is essential to our survival, but it can also be comforting. Since we’re no longer trying to fill the hole in our soul with drugs or alcohol, we may start using food as a replacement (like an imaginary bear hug from a bear claw). In particular, foods high in sugar and carbohydrates are especially addicting.
  2. Relationship and Sex Addiction – Using another person or pornography to fill the void left by drugs and alcohol can result in serious problems in your life. This type of addiction can also set you up for relapse on your drug of choice, and can lead to obsessive and compulsive behaviors.
  3. Gambling Addiction – Gambling is exciting, and some of us who are clean and sober may seek out some of the thrills that gambling offers. Like drug and alcohol addiction, it becomes a problem when you can’t stop. The consequences of gambling can be severe, leading up to and including suicide.
  4. Shopping Addiction – If you cannot stop buying things you don’t need and/or you can’t afford, you have an addiction much like the others. It must be handled in the same manner as you have handled getting sober.
  5. Work Addiction – When you start filling your free time, and the void with more work, it can become compulsive. You may also notice that other areas of your life are becoming neglected. It is important to find balance, and if you need help doing so, ask.

The common thread with all of these addictions is that they are being used to fill something we are missing. We used drugs and alcohol to do the same, but if you’re still reaching for something outside of yourself, you need to do some serious inside work.



At The Lakehouse Recovery Center, our main focus is to help you heal yourself from within. Recovery is an inside job, and we can show you how you can begin living a life beyond your wildest dreams. You don’t have to live in fear or shame any longer. Give us a call, we are available 24/7, toll-free at (877) SOBER | (877) 762-3707. You can recover. Call us now, and get help today.


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