Slippery Slope: Why It Is So Critical To Say No To All Drugs When Overcoming Addiction

Breaking the hold addiction has on your life is hard work. Many people try to make it easier by substituting one drug for another – switching to alcohol instead of narcotics, for instance. Some people think that the ability to switch from one drug to another means they’re not addicted. The problem is that, unless the underlying issues are resolved, the user is likely to end up with two addictions instead of one.

You’ve probably heard the term “addictive personality”. While it’s been overused to the point of losing its punch, there’s a lot of truth to it. Addicts have a lot of thoughts and behaviors in common, even if they don’t abuse the same substance:

  • They believe they need the substance to relax or to handle the stress in their lives.
  • They think the substance will make them more creative.
  • They use the substance to cover up painful emotions.
  • They see everyday life as boring and think the substance will bring excitement.
  • They’re preoccupied with the substance (when and where to get it, when to use it, etc.).
  • They continue their substance abuse despite negative consequences.
  • They neglect their responsibilities (working, caring for family, etc.).

It’s easy to see that switching from one substance to another will do nothing to change these thoughts and behaviors. In fact, it’s not uncommon for addicts who are trying to get sober to substitute other addictions: shopping, gambling, etc. But, when the new addiction stops providing the effect they’re looking for, they’re likely to go back to the previous addiction.

Why substitution is so dangerous

All substance abuse has the end result of changing brain chemistry. Switching substances may change the way brain chemistry is affected, but it does nothing to help you learn to live with normal, healthy brain chemistry. In fact switching substances just adds another layer of dysfunctional behavior, reinforcing those behaviors and making true recovery even more difficult.

What to do instead

Overcoming addiction can be tough on your own. You need someone outside the situation – like the experts at – to help you identify the thoughts that set you up for addiction in the first place. If you don’t change the thoughts, you won’t be able to change the behavior, and your recovery will either fail or just switch gears.

For instance, some recovering addicts start treating exercise as an addiction. While exercise should be a big component of any recovery program, simply applying all of those addictive thoughts and habits to something healthy isn’t really progress. Addiction is addiction. And that sets you up for relapse.

True recovery is possible. It’s hard work – there’s no way around that – but with the right support, you can break the pattern of thoughts and behaviors that led you to getting addicted in the first place.

If you’re still in the grips of addiction, it may be hard to believe that there could be a time when you aren’t constantly thinking about your substance of choice, and feeling deprived when you do without. But recovery is possible; many people have already competed the journey from addiction to sobriety. With support from experts who help you change the underlying reasons for your addiction, you can do it, too.