What is Transfer Addiction and How to Avoid it?

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Recovering from an addiction can be a very long, challenging, and expensive process. What many people do not realize is that their recovery process does not end once they complete their treatment by utilizing some of the addiction solutions Florida has to offer. Aside from the danger of relapse, people that complete their treatment program have a high risk of developing a transfer addiction. Most people even don’t know what transfer addiction is and how to avoid it in the first place! In this article, we will be covering what transfer addiction really is, how it works, how to identify it, as well as how to avoid falling victim to it.

What is transfer addiction?

In a nutshell, transfer addiction is when you substitute one addiction for another. It usually happens shortly after the initial recovery process, when a person does not know how to live their life without the substance they previously abused. A prime example of transfer addiction is when a former alcoholic starts drinking too much caffeine. By doing so, they are essentially replacing their alcohol addiction with a new one. Another way of looking at transfer addiction is that a person is trying to fill the void left by the original addiction. There are two components to transfer addictions – behavioral and physical.

two square dice
Transfer addiction is replacing one addiction with another.

From a behavioral standpoint, transfer addiction provides the former addict with something to do. They used to rely on their substance of choice to cope with boredom and stress, and they need a replacement now that they are sober. On a physical note, transfer addiction is there to relieve dopamine deficiency.

There are all sorts of substances and activities that can produce varying levels of dopamine, such as sweets, video games, gambling, etc. It is quite common that a person who is fresh out of an inpatient rehab Boynton Beach program to start relying on any of these substances and/or activities to go through each day. While none of these substances and activities are dangerous if taken in moderation, there is a high chance that they will help develop a transfer addiction. Furthermore, some activities (such as gambling) have the potential to ruin your life as fast and certain as your original addiction.

How does transfer addiction “work”?

When people ask the question of what is transfer addiction and how to avoid it, they are usually interested in the transfer addiction’s inner workings. The reason why so many people fall victim to transfer addiction is the fact that their brains will be frantically searching for the same positive feedback they got when they were using the addictive substance of their choice. The fact that making huge, sweeping, changes to their usual habits and routines is extremely challenging and uncomfortable only helps transfer addiction take root.

Another reason why you may develop a transfer addiction is that it is rather easy to “talk yourself into it”. Your transfer addiction is not technically relapsing, after all, since you are not relapsing into your old ways. The transfer addiction provides you with an easy way of managing your recovery. However, this is as far from the actual truth as it gets. A transfer addiction creates many more problems than it solves. Many people who develop transfer addiction in Boynton Beach report that their new addiction forced them to enroll in an IOP Boynton Beach program to get a grip on their life. Therefore, a transfer addiction is not a solution to the problem, it is simply transferring a habit from one substance to another substance or activity.

Why is it a problem?

Transfer addiction is a huge problem due to the fact that it essentially compromises the entire recovery process. Not only will the transfer addiction bring its own downsides to the proverbial table, but it can also create a feeling that no matter what you do, you are always going to be addicted to something. This has a significant potential to induce depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental health issues. From a financial standpoint, developing any other mental health issues can be extremely costly. This is the reason why many people ask the question “Does Cigna cover rehab?” when faced with the aftermath of their transfer addiction. Furthermore, by indulging in transfer addiction, you are not really making any progress toward full recovery. At best, you are simply delaying the inevitable return to your old ways.

person thinking about what is transfer addiction and how to avoid it
Transfer addiction stands in the way of your recovery.

What causes transfer addiction?

To answer the question of what is transfer addiction and how to avoid it, we need to look at the underlying causes of transfer addiction first. Most commonly, transfer addiction occurs when the root cause of the addiction is not properly addressed. During the initial addiction process, your brain will become wired in such a way that you will do almost anything to acquire your substance of choice. You may disregard any negative consequences of your actions, just to get that next dopamine hit. Unless your addiction is properly treated at one of the drug rehab Florida centers, it is easy to fall into the same behavior after a certain amount of time. In addition, you may also develop transfer addiction because you need something to help you stay sober.

The fact of the matter is that life throws all sorts of curveballs at us every single day. We are supposed to handle stress, pain, and anxiety on a daily level. Most people who become addicts utilize various substances to help them deal with their lives. Transfer addiction is no different, the only difference is that it encompasses a range of activities (some of which can even be healthy). Here is a quick list of the most common transfer addictions:

  • Gambling
  • Sex
  • Shopping
  • Overworking
  • Binge eating
  • Gaming
  • Nicotine
  • Pornography
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Compulsive exercising

As you can see, many of these activities are not inherently unhealthy if taken in moderation. The problem with transfer addiction is that all of these activities and substances are not taken in moderation, but in excess.

Is transfer addiction treatable?

Yes, transfer addiction is fully treatable. However, there are a couple of issues that may make the treatment quite challenging. First, there is the issue of admission. Most of the time, it is all but impossible to realize that someone else has a transfer addiction, especially if that addiction involves normally healthy activities such as working out. Second, even thinking about undergoing another recovery process might be too much for many people. While some people may realize that their transfer addiction indicates that they have unresolved issues, most people will simply feel defeated, frustrated, or embarrassed. After going through one of the heroin rehab Florida programs, for example, it can be very difficult to “force” yourself into yet another treatment program, after all. However, getting professional treatment is always in your best interest.

person considering what is transfer addiction and how to avoid it
Transfer addiction, like any other addiction, is fully treatable.

The best thing to do is consider transfer addiction as a sign that your recovery process is not yet complete. Instead of focusing on how you failed (you haven’t), you now have definite proof that your underlying issues are not yet resolved.

How to identify transfer addiction

Transfer addiction can be incredibly difficult to identify, at first. Chances are that you will not even realize what is going on until someone else points it out to you. The best thing to do is to understand what is transfer addiction and how to avoid it in the first place, of course, but there are other indicators that you may be able to observe. Luckily enough, the signs of transfer addiction are quite similar to addiction signs. Here are some of the most common signs you may be able to spot:

  • Constantly thinking about the new substance and/or activity
  • Feeling stressed out, anxious, or even suicidal if you can’t partake in the new activity or lose access to the new substance
  • Neglecting to take care of yourself
  • Choosing to prioritize the new activity/substance over anything else
  • Having trouble at school or work due to spending too much time and effort on a new activity and/or substance

If you can’t see any of these signs and are suspecting that you might be developing transfer addiction, you may also want to ask yourself a few questions, just in case. First, ask yourself about the level of compulsion that you feel about the new activity/substance. If you are doing it thoughtlessly, chances are that you have already developed a transfer addiction. Second, consider whether your new behavior is impacting your life in a negative way. If you find yourself constantly feeling bad about yourself after partaking in a certain activity or using a certain substance, you are most likely dealing with transfer addiction.

How to avoid transfer addiction?

Avoiding transfer addiction may be as difficult as overcoming your addiction in the first place. In fact, it may be even more difficult in some cases. Here are a couple of things that you can do:

  • Stay vigilant
  • See a professional therapist
  • Use what you’ve learned already
  • Develop new habits
  • Practice mindfulness
person meditating
Mindfulness meditation is a great way to keep your transfer addiction in check.

The best way to approach transfer addiction is the same as you would any other addiction. That means that you need to be aware that any addictive behavior has the potential to ruin your life. An addiction to gambling, for example, may have serious negative consequences, while an addiction to sugar can lead to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. With that in mind, let’s see what you can do to avoid transfer addiction and not have to deal with any negative repercussions.

Staying vigilant

Transfer addiction can be extremely “sneaky”. It can creep up on you without you even noticing its onset. This is especially true if you are replacing your former addiction with something that is seemingly benign, such as simple indulgences. While simple indulgences may help you overcome the initial period after your treatment, they have the potential to grow into transfer addiction if you are not careful. The first thing is to learn about what is transfer addiction and how to avoid it, of course, but you need to stay vigilant at all times as well.

To start with, try to notice any signs of avoidant behavior. This means that you pay attention to what you are doing in stressful behaviors, especially if your behavior is becoming (or already is) a habit. The earlier you are able to figure out that you are exhibiting the symptoms of transfer addiction, the better.

Seeing a professional therapist

As mentioned previously, the most common cause of transfer addiction is when the underlying cause of your addiction is not fully treated. The best way to treat the underlying cause is to see a professional therapist and work on your issues. A professional therapist can help you identify what is really going on and can help you take control of your life. Luckily, if you have already gone through addiction treatment, you will know what has been done to correct your underlying issues so you can focus on something else. There are many factors that may contribute to your addictive behavior (trauma, avoidant behavior, mental health issues, etc.), all of which can be treated with the help of a professional therapist.

Using what you’ve already learned

Regardless of how you’ve managed to ditch your old addiction, the fact of the matter is that you did. Whether you have gone through alcohol addiction treatment, a 12-step program, or powered through recovery on your own, you definitely learned a lot during that process. Even though you may not know what transfer addiction is and how to avoid it, these lessons can help you overcome it with a bit more effort. The first step is to consider your transfer addiction as a “real” addiction. This is something that most people have problems with, as being addicted to shopping is quite different than being addicted to cocaine, for example. However, shopping addiction and cocaine addiction are fundamentally the same. They are both preventing you from living a sober life. By indulging in any one of them, you are preventing yourself from developing healthy behaviors and coping mechanisms.

person using a credit card
You can control your transfer addiction!

Once you realize that your transfer addiction is as dangerous as your former addiction, you will be able to apply everything that you have learned so far. Luckily, all the skills that help deal with addiction are universal across all addictions.

Developing new habits

Another way of dealing with transfer addiction is to adopt new habits. Of course, this is never simple and may require quite a bit of effort on your part. This is why transfer addiction is so prevalent among recovering addicts, as it provides a way to live your life in a similar way as before. However, if you do put some time and effort into creating new habits, you may be able to stave off transfer addiction completely. What you want to do is create a completely new routine for yourself, one that will have a positive contribution to your life.

For example, let’s say that you’ve used to indulge in a substance at a specific time of day. Instead of replacing the substance with another substance, try changing the habit to something else, such as hanging out with a friend. While it may feel weird and unnatural at first, you will soon form a brand new, healthier, habit if you keep at it long enough. Since every person is unique, there’s no telling how much time it will take before new habits become natural, however. That said, they will become natural if you give them enough time.

Practicing mindfulness

One of the best solutions that we can provide to people who wonder what transfer addiction really is and how to avoid it is to practice mindfulness. Being mindful means being fully present in the moment and having the ability to observe your thoughts, motivations, behaviors, and feelings in a conscious manner. Aside from helping you avoid or overcome your transfer addiction, mindfulness training will help you increase your self-awareness, allow you to recognize your addictive triggers, and help you realize what your personal strengths are.

Mindfulness practice is something that is often used in numerous addiction treatment programs and is one of the core components of DBT (Dialectic Behavioral Therapy). There are many mindfulness exercises that you can practice, including body scan meditation, living in the moment, walking meditation, and focusing on your breathing. There is a chance that you might find a certain exercise to be too difficult for you, but that does not mean that you should skip practicing mindfulness altogether. The more you keep at it, the easier it will be.

person pondering what is transfer addiction and how to avoid it
Breathing exercises can be extremely helpful.

One of the best aspects of mindfulness practice is that you can do it virtually anywhere. You can perform simple mindfulness exercises while you are traveling, while you are waiting in line, or in any other situation. That said, some of the more structured exercises (sitting meditation, body scan meditation, etc.) might require setting aside some time and space.

How long should you practice mindfulness?

To get the most benefit from mindfulness exercises, you will want to commit to them for at least six months. This means that you will want to set aside time to practice mindfulness every single day for at least half a year. While it may be awkward at first, you will soon realize that you are getting better and better with them. Once they become effortless, you will have no problems staving off your transfer addiction (or any addiction) whatsoever.

Prevent your transfer addiction with the help of Bright Futures Treatment Center

The easiest (and most effective) way to deal with any sort of addiction, transfer addiction included, is to get in touch with a specialized treatment center. At Bright Futures Treatment Center, we have specialized knowledge of what is transfer addiction and how to avoid it. We are focused on helping anyone struggling with addiction to find a sense of purpose and meaningful life in recovery. Our professional medical staff has the necessary training to create an individualized recovery plan that takes every factor of your situation into account. We can provide you with any form of addiction treatment, from prescription drugs addiction treatment to alcohol addiction treatment. At Bright Futures, each client is fully supported by a team of highly trained medical professionals, clinicians, case managers, and supportive staff.

As one of Florida’s best addiction treatment centers, we believe in a low client-to-therapist ratio. This means that we employ highly-specialized therapists that can help you overcome every aspect of your transfer addiction. Furthermore, we can offer a wide variety of treatment modalities and therapies, including:

  • Outpatient treatment
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Couples rehab
  • Medically assisted treatment
  • Aftercare
  • Alumni programs
  • Various therapeutic activities
  • Group sessions
  • Dual diagnosis
  • Holistic treatment
  • Trauma-informed treatment
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Our medical professionals will help you achieve and maintain sobriety!

Through our personalized treatment programs, you will learn all the skills you need to live a fully sober life, improve your overall wellness, and vastly improve your quality of life. Our mission is to light the pathway to community wellness and brighter futures for everyone by improving the lives of individuals and families struggling with addiction.

Structure and a caring environment are our core principles

At Bright Futures Treatment Center, our philosophy is to meet the client exactly where they are, develop a personalized recovery program, and identify the treatment options that will benefit our clients the most. Furthermore, our clinicians are highly trained to modify treatment options as the situation progresses and the needs of our clients change. We firmly believe in keeping the structure of the recovery process, as well as its environment, intimate and caring. If you have any other questions about what is transfer addiction and how to avoid it, all you need to do is get in touch with Bright Future rehab center. They will be more than happy to provide you with all the answers.

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