Addiction is a complex disease, and there is never one single way in which it manifests. While some may be overcoming the use of alcohol, others may be challenging their use of amphetamines, marijuana, opioids, or behaviors such as sex or gambling. Additionally, an individual may also engage with multiple substances or behaviors simultaneously. Even when working to overcome one addiction, it is important to recognize that one addiction can lead to another.
Addressing addiction and engaging in effective treatment involves not just addressing a particular substance or behavior but better understanding the disease and its influences. It also requires an individual to be cognizant of how addiction can continue to manifest for a truly transformed and sober life.
Addiction as a Mentality
The use of drugs or alcohol has profound effects on both the body and the brain. Addiction is much more than engagement with a single substance. Rather, it is a disease that affects a person’s mentality and perspectives, especially when it comes to what it takes to feel “normal” or otherwise ready to take on the stresses of the day. For many, the use of addictive substances may feel intimately tied to feeling “good.” Similarly, an individual may feel incomplete without engaging with them regularly as the body and mind become accustomed to their use.
However, there are many ways in which one addiction may birth another, either through an individual’s continued engagement with addictive substances or even throughout their recovery efforts. Understanding addiction as an overreliance on an external substance or behavior and challenging the mentality that promotes this approach to overcoming stress or navigating mental health disorders is necessary for effective treatment.
Understanding Polysubstance Use
It is possible that an individual may be engaging with multiple addictive substances and behaviors. An individual may engage with both alcohol and opioids or use heroin along with other drugs to increase the intensity of their effects. This is known as “polysubstance use,” or the use of multiple substances in tandem. However, others may experience their own unique combination of addictions that affect their recovery.
Drugs and sex, alcohol and gambling, or any other combination of addictions can be profoundly difficult to address, especially if an individual is addressing only one part of the issue. Overcoming the use of drugs without understanding how other addictions continue to impact an individual can make engaging in effective and sustainable treatment difficult.
Polysubstance use can also result from an individual looking to replace one addiction with another, usually to attain more intense effects of these substances. The use of marijuana can birth an addiction to opioids in this pursuit, or the use of alcohol can lead to drug use in an attempt to exacerbate its effects. Whether due to the increase in tolerance of used substances or to chase greater effects, engagement with any addictive substances can always lead an individual to other substances and develop into polysubstance use.
Addressing Replacement Addictions
Others may experience one addiction leading to another through other means, commonly in the form of “replacement addictions.” These replacement addictions manifest as an individual directly replaces the use of one addictive substance with another.
For example, an individual may be focused on overcoming their use of heroin in dedicated, professional treatment but simultaneously increase their use of alcohol to directly replace one substance with another. While on the surface, this looks like an individual is achieving their goal of avoiding drug use, it does not necessarily address addiction as a comprehensive disease and can quickly create its own challenges.
Those developing replacement addictions also may avoid the development of other essential coping strategies, instead viewing a new substance or behavior as their outlet. An individual may not necessarily adopt effective self-care strategies, coping techniques, or other key aspects of effective recovery as a new addiction develops.
One addiction may also lead to another in recovery through other means, particularly in behavioral addictions. For some, the use of shopping as a reward for staving off urges and maintaining sobriety can be a powerful recovery tool. However, if it is the only strategy employed, it can create its own problems throughout recovery. For example, this may lead to a behavioral shopping addiction itself or create complications if one is not able to engage in their outlet and does not have other ways of processing the stresses throughout recovery and sobriety.
Creating a Comprehensive Recovery Plan
Addiction is a disease that affects an entire mindset. Overcoming the disease is not just about challenging one particular aspect but the mentality that informs it. Professional treatment is necessary to create a plethora of various recovery strategies that can prevent an overreliance on a single outlet, all while developing an effective community of peers to share new strategies and keep an individual accountable for their approach to a healthy and sober future.
This professional approach to treatment available at our Hawaii drug and alcohol treatment centers is also necessary to prevent the use of other addictive substances. Professional treatment offers an atmosphere and space devoid of not just the substance each person is looking to overcome but also dangerous alternatives that may otherwise negatively affect the pursuit of effective and healthy sobriety.
Addiction is a complex disease, and one addiction can always birth another without the proper support, education, and care. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we are committed to helping you create a comprehensive recovery plan that addresses not just the use of drugs and alcohol but instills the necessary skills and transformed lifestyle to address the risk of addiction in the future and maintain a truly healthy lifestyle in sobriety. Our effective Hawaii drug and alcohol treatment centers are equipped with proven therapies, professional staff, and a community of supportive and understanding peers to help you overcome addiction across many forms. For more information on how we can help you, call to speak to us today at (866) 390-5070.