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What is A Transfer Addiction?

transfer addiction, transfer addiction causes, transfer addiction signs, change one addiction for another

What is Transfer Addiction?

Transfer addiction is the act of trading one addiction for another, and it happens when a person who is in recovery begins to substitute one addiction for another, typically during or after treatment for the original addiction. This can be an issue for those recovering from drug addiction and alcohol use disorder to bariatric surgery patients.

Whether you have a dependence on drugs or alcohol, or another substance use issue, going to rehab does not automatically cure addiction. Addiction is a chronic disease that you will have to manage for the rest of your life. Learning to replace old, unhealthy habits with new healthier options is important, but it is also important to keep an eye on your “addiction brain”, ensuring that your new behaviors do not cross the line into old territory.

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All of the staff and nurses at resurgence are phenomenal. They helped me a lot and gave me hope at my lowest.—the two different times I came to both of their locations. Costa Mesa and riverside locations. I would recommend their programs to anybody! That is if you are looking for detox AND 30 day residential, not just detox. Thank you Resurgence! <3
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Hailey Thomas
Milton! This was my first time in treatment and I was pretty scared but muse and staff have been incredible. Steve(o) and corrina have been my favorite! Make sure to go on the outings with Steve(o) he’s amazing! Corrina spoiled me and is easy to talk to! All the staff is amazing if I’m being honest! They work hard and always have our backs ❤️
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transfer addiction

Top 10 Causes of Transfer Addiction

  1. Underlying Psychological Issues: Often, individuals with addiction have underlying psychological issues like anxiety, depression, or trauma. When one addiction is addressed, these unresolved issues may lead the individual to seek other addictive behaviors as a coping mechanism.
  2. Brain Chemistry: Addiction can alter the brain’s reward system. After ceasing one addictive behavior, the brain may still crave the dopamine release it experienced, leading to the development of new addictive behaviors.
  3. Lack of Comprehensive Treatment: If treatment for the original addiction focuses only on the substance or behavior and not on the underlying causes of addiction, there’s a risk of transferring to another addiction. Comprehensive treatment is necessary to address all aspects of addictive behavior.
  4. Environmental Factors: Surroundings that encourage or enable addictive behavior can lead to transfer addiction. For instance, if an individual is in an environment where there is a lot of stress or access to addictive substances or behaviors, they might be more prone to developing new addictions.
  5. Genetic Predisposition: Genetics can play a role in an individual’s susceptibility to addiction. Those with a family history of addiction may be more likely to develop transfer addictions.
  6. Social and Peer Influences: The influence of social circles and peers can contribute to the development of new addictive behaviors, especially if these groups engage in or encourage such behaviors.
  7. Lack of Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Without healthy coping strategies for stress, trauma, or emotional pain, individuals might turn to addictive behaviors as a form of self-medication.
  8. Poor Self-Esteem and Identity Issues: Individuals struggling with self-esteem or identity issues might be more susceptible to transfer addiction as they search for ways to cope with these feelings.
  9. Physical Pain and Discomfort: For some, especially those recovering from substance abuse involving pain relief, the physical pain and discomfort during recovery can lead to seeking other addictive behaviors or substances to cope.
  10. Habit Formation: The habitual nature of addiction means that individuals might unconsciously seek to replace a discontinued addictive behavior with a new one, simply out of habit.

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How Transfer Addiction Replacement Works?

When you are experiencing addiction replacement, you allow a new addition to take the place of another, so you can get the same positive feedback from your brain. It can be uncomfortable to make sweeping changes to your usual routines and habits, making it easy to fall back into addiction if you are not vigilant.

Because logic and thinking processes are often affected when battling an addiction, you may be able to talk yourself into addiction substitution with the reasoning that it is not technically relapsing, because it is a new behavior or substance you are doing. You may even be doing exactly what your counselor or therapist told you, switching out your unhealthy drug abuse for “healthy” behaviors.

The addiction is simply transferred from one habit to another because it wasn’t the substance you were craving, it was the fulfillment of underlying needs that you wanted, a chemical imbalance in the brain that makes you prone to addiction (sometimes colloquially called an “addictive personality”)

what is transfer addiction

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Ways to Identify What is Transfer Addiction:

The signs of a transferred addiction are similar to the signs of any other addiction, including:

  • Neglect of personal hygiene or other self care
  • Health problems because of the addiction
  • Foregoing sleep and normal interests and behaviors to participate in the new activity
  • Becoming obsessed with, or constantly thinking about the new activity
  • Having trouble at work or school because you are spending too much time on the new activity
  • Having issues at home or in relationships due to the new activity
  • Feeling stress or anxiety or even suicidal thoughts if you cannot do the new activity or do not have access to the activity or substance

You may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the level of compulsion with the new behavior or substance? Are you doing it thoughtlessly, even when you don’t particularly want to? For example, do you zone out and eat an entire bag of chips, or do you stay up later than you meant to, even when you are extremely tired, to continue gaming or watching pornography?
  • Is the new behavior affecting your life in a negative way? For example, do you feel negatively about yourself after overeating or are your loved ones making comments about how much time you are spending at work or playing video games? Are you continuously spending over your budget while shopping?

It is important to examine your thoughts and actions closely while you are in recovery, especially if you begin to experience strong emotions about a substance or activity, or recognize these signs and symptoms of addiction occurring in yourself again. Be honest with yourself, and seek help if you believe you have a transfer addiction.

Addiction Treatment that
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Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

Is Addiction Transfer Treatable?

Yes, a transfer addiction is a treatable condition. It may require admitting you need further help, which may feel defeating, embarrassing, and frustrating, as you may feel like “I just did this!” You will likely need to spend more time in rehab, as the key is to address the underlying roots of addiction, rather than only treating the symptoms.

Addiction is a long-term condition, and requires not only stopping the substance or action but also figuring out and treating the “why” of your addiction while simultaneously treating chemical imbalances and emotional issues. It may take therapy, education, counseling, relapse prevention, and maybe even a dual diagnosis program if mental illness is suspected to help you get control over your life once more.

Transfer Addiction Treating Transfer Addiction

Preventing Transfer Addiction with Help from Resurgence Behavioral Health Treatment Centers

The first and most important method of preventing what is transfer addiction is to work with a team of addiction professionals in a rehabilitation setting to heal the underlying causes of addiction. Getting to the root of the addiction and healing the underlying issues is the best way to ensure you will not make the same mistakes over and over, as you will have a new outlook on life, with new strategies and tools to help you get through difficult times.

Resurgence Behavioral Health’s addiction treatment program offers a rehab program and addiction recovery that takes a whole-patient approach, providing not only a safe and effective medically assisted treatment (MAT) detox program, but also an integrated continuum of care, with a multidisciplinary approach that helps each patient heal their body, mind, and spirit through a variety of therapies such as:

  • Medical detox programs for alcohol and drug treatment
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • One-on-one counseling
  • Rational emotive behavioral therapy
  • Life skills and vocational skills classes
  • Group therapy, including SMART recovery and 12step programs and groups like alcoholics anonymous
  • Medications
  • Health care and medical care
  • Holistic substance abuse treatment and addiction treatment
  • Diet and exercise
  • Recreation
  • Community building
  • Experiential therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Dual diagnosis treatments like specialized therapy and psychiatric medications for cooccurring disorder treatment like trauma or mental illness

An important part of drug rehab, addiction recovery, and preventing an addiction transfer is to gain relapse prevention skills and learn to be proactive in identifying your triggers that may lead to a relapse or a transfer addiction. Common triggers may include:

  • Feeling judged or attacked
  • Feeling invalidated or misunderstood
  • Boredom or loneliness
  • Emotional distress
  • Being around or seeing their drug of choice
  • Feeling a loss of control or feeling unsafe
  • Untreated mental illness, trauma, or abuse
  • Seeing something triggering on TV, in movies or even reading about it
  • Having relationship or work problems
  • Trying to relax after a stressful day
  • Celebrations, parties, and holidays

Learning healthy coping mechanisms, as well as understanding addiction and learning to be aware of the warning signs of a new addiction developing, and adopting preventative measures are all invaluable skills to have when you leave rehab. At Resurgence, our counselors and therapists will work with you to not only improve your quality of life, health, and overall wellness but also realistically prepare you for when times become difficult.

Understanding the root causes of addiction is crucial for effective treatment, and avoiding pitfalls like what is transfer addiction. Resurgence Behavioral Health and drug rehab center stands out with its multi-faceted approach, offering a range of programs from drug and alcohol detox to both short- and long-term rehab programs. Additionally, they provide partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, and standard outpatient programs to ensure continuity of care. As you transition from inpatient residential rehab back to daily life, Resurgence supports every step of your journey. A commonly asked question by many is, does anthem cover therapy? It’s essential to check with your Anthem insurance plan directly or with the Resurgence team to clarify coverage specifics.

We have extended aftercare programs for treating addiction that allow you to remain in contact with mental and physical health care with substance use disorder treatment, as well as providing sober living home referrals, recovery programs, and connections to a local sober community near you. Addiction transfer happens to many people. With Resurgence, there will always be a place to turn when you experience a trigger. From connections to our alumni program to support groups to counselors and therapists, our team will ensure you will never be alone in your recovery.

If you are experiencing addiction, are dealing with substance abuse, or believe you may be heading toward a transfer addiction issue, contact our team today for help with insurance verification, and to find out how we can help you work through the underlying issues and get you into the recovery programs you need. Our admissions process is easy, and our admissions team is judgment-free and trauma-informed. We are only a phone call away.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.


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