How do we avoid trading one addiction for another? Is it always a bad thing to replace our focus on alcohol to something new? Join us as Annie shares her advice on this issue and some of the tools she personally used to refocus her energy when she gave up drinking!

Episode Links:
Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Habit Loop
The Below-The-Radar Addict by David Sack
Hip Sobriety School

Download EP:110 Transcript

What is Addiction Transfer?

Cross addiction or  trading addictions happens. I am certainly not an expert but I do feel there are two areas to explore in terms of behavior transfer (trading addictions).


Experts such as Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit says that you can’t eliminate habits, only replace them with better ones. This theory seems to prove true, because you can replace a mid-afternoon sugary snack habit with a mid-afternoon 5 minute walk outside. Thus, if you are not happy about your ice cream and Netflix habit you can replace it with a reading while drinking herbal tea habit. You can find more answers about trading addictions and how to replace habits in this article.

Self Medication

The second aspect to explore is how to replace self-medication. That is usually the answer to trading addictions – self-medication.

A study in 2007 of gastric bypass patients discovered 5% of them turned to alcohol or cigarettes once food was no longer a option. For that 5%, the surgery to eliminate the mechanism for food addiction quickly transferred to another addiction.

According to David Sack, M.D., board certified in addiction psychiatry, cross addiction is where one compulsive behavior morphs into the next – a phenomenon called cross-addiction or addiction transfer – and the cycle continues.

New Views

In recent years, we’ve moved toward a view of addiction that encompasses not only drugs and alcohol but also compulsive behaviors such as gambling, eating, sex, work and spending. The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction broadly to include “process addictions,” a view that is backed by research showing that certain pleasurable behaviors affect the same reward centers of the brain as drugs.

Addiction is more than a disease, it’s a lifestyle. Lasting change only happens when you address the core issues driving you to seek comfort or pleasure from a destructive source outside yourself. Going from wondering “What is alcoholism?” to “Why am I trading addictions?” only compounds your problems. In some cases, the core issue may be an underlying mental health issue such as depression or anxiety that must be managed alongside the addiction(s) rather than treating each issue separately.

Do You Need To Change?

Deciding if you need to change will depend upon your level of compulsion. Is it affecting other areas of your life negatively ? Are you sacrificing your inner peace? Do you want to watch hours of Netflix or are you beating yourself up about it?

Dealing With Trading Addictions

Try to be honest with yourself – are there underlying issues you need to deal with?

Most importantly be gentle with yourself. Getting to know yourself is one of the most beautiful gifts of living an alcohol free life. If you were using alcohol to self-medicate you MUST now address the issues lurking below the surface.

Hip Sobriety

Holly of Hip Sobriety hosts programs that focus on really looking at your whole self – and healing. It is a powerful program that takes place a few times a year and can really benefit those looking to heal completely. I am one of the teachers in the course and I can’t recommend it enough.

The Answer

What is trading addictions? It’s transferring one problem for another. It’s more pain. More discomfort. Learn more about how to avoid it and how to be in control of your behaviors by reading This Naked Mind.

Tune in to the complete podcast for mre on trading addictions.

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Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (
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