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Avoiding Addiction Interaction Disorder in Recovery

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couple receiving therapy for addiction interaction disorder

Addiction is a chronic mental and physical condition characterized by compulsive and excessive dependence on substances or behavioral patterns. These can include gambling, sexual behaviors, screens and electronic devices, exercising, smoking, drug, or alcohol use, or other compulsive behaviors that become counterproductive and harmful. When you have multiple addictions, this is called Addiction Interaction Disorder.

Addiction isn’t limited to one substance or one behavior at any particular point in time. It can include multiple patterns at once, and it can also include more than one at different points in time.

The occurrence of a new addiction even after an individual has started working on their previous destructive addictive patterns shows just how flexible/mutable addictions can be as a disease.

This is often referred to as addiction replacement or substituting one addiction for another. It is also referred to as Addiction Interaction Disorder. 

What Does “Addiction Interaction Disorder” Mean? 

It is common for individuals who are dealing with addiction to face more than one addiction at the same time. When a person replaces an addiction with another, or is struggling with two or more addictions, it is called Addiction Interaction Disorder. This phenomenon simply means that the individual in question is using one or more compulsive and obsessive behavioral patterns to get over another. 

The psychological and emotional need to cover up the traits of previous addictive behaviors with another desensitizes the reward system. This can cause the individual to seek stimulation of their reward system using other methods.

An example of Addiction Interaction Disorder is replacing alcohol addiction with, say, smoking or gambling. It should be noted that relapsing is quite different from substitute addiction. Relapsing involves going back to the previous destructive behavior, while substitution involves replacing it with another, or adding another substance or behavior thinking it will counteract the effects of the original addiction.

Causes of Addiction Interaction Disorder 

Addiction Interaction Disorder, or when an individual is addicted to more than one substance at the same time, often occurs during or after treatment of the original addiction. There are a variety of reasons why a person substitutes or replaces one addiction with another. Below are some of the common factors that are usually responsible. 

Emotional Pain Relief

A major cause of Addiction Interaction Disorder is the individual having an intense urge to relieve emotional discomfort or suffering that may be associated with their original addiction.

It’s the ultimate double-edged sword, the individual is looking to release any coexisting negative feelings or sensations that are associated with their addiction. Feelings like shame, guilt, self-hate, defeat, hopelessness and depression are very common amongst individuals who struggle with addiction and those in early recovery. Trying to let go of these feelings, along with their addiction, can be quite a painful process. This is why some people who are struggling with addiction oftentimes try to find absolution in other destructive patterns.

Underlying Health Factors

People dealing with addiction can sometimes be patients who are on medications for one ailment or another. When tolerance increases, and dependence on pain relievers develops, people may finally decide to detox and get off the medication. Oftentimes, the pain continues to linger, and they end up replacing their addiction with something else in an attempt to manage the pain or physical discomfort. 

Dopamine Craving

When individuals are in the beginning phases of their original addiction, they may have a constant urge to attain the euphoric experience that they initially felt. These intense cravings can often drive people to substitute one addiction for another, especially during early stages of recovery. 

As Jeanene Swanson from The Fix puts it: 

Everyone who’s battled an addiction understands the concept. You go from smoking to eating, from drinking to shopping, from sex to chocolate to working. You’re substituting one addiction for another in an attempt to compensate for a perceived lack, emotionally or psychologically.

Common Addiction Interactions

Addiction Interaction Disorder often stems from the lack of treatment for the original addictive behaviors. So, if the causative agent of the original addiction is not cured or treated, individuals might find themselves substituting their addiction or adding to their addiction with these common substitutes:

  • Gambling 
  • Exercise 
  • Food 
  • Sex 
  • Video games 
  • Shopping 
  • Nicotine 
  • Caffeine

How to Detect Addiction Interaction Disorders

The recovery process as we have earlier stated is not always easy and it takes a lot of inner strength and courage for people who sttuggle with addiction. So, it can be quite difficult for people to ascertain when they have started replacing, adding or substituting one addiction with another. Some substitutes can even be considered harmless or healthy, for example, exercise or eating healthily. 

So, how do you detect Addiction Interaction Disorder? By following the steps below.

1. Talk to a Professional 

First of all, an effective way of identifying Addiction Interaction Disorder is by working with experienced professionals. They understand better than anyone what constitutes substitute or replacement addiction.

Through their extensive knowledge, they are able to pick out seemingly innocent habits that you may overlook and dismiss. Conversely, they will also be able to rule out some normal behaviors that you may have erroneously characterized as substitute addiction or Addiction Interaction Disorder.

From there, they can then begin to work with you to identify and work through the triggers that you may have that lead to engaging in compulsive behaviors.  

2. Ask Yourself the Following Questions

Asking the following questions goes a long way in detecting whether a habit is in fact a form of Addiction Interaction Disorder:

  • Does it trigger your need to reduce the unpleasant effects of withdrawal? 
  • Does it affect your lifestyle in a negative way?
  • Does it consume a great deal of your time?
  • Does it affect your relationships in a negative way?
  • Do you experience anxiety or worry when you think about stopping the behavior? 

If any of these are true, you may want to talk to a professional as soon as possible.

Seeking Professional Help for Addiction Interaction Disorder in the DC Area | Encore Recovery

When identified early in its process, Addiction Interaction Disorder is usually much easier to work through than when we let it fester for too long. For this reason, talking to a professional as early as possible is absolutely imperative.

At Encore Outpatient Services, our team of professionals have extensive knowledge on all forms of addiction and Addiction Interaction Disorders. They can help you or a loved one avoid destructive patterns that may put long-term recovery at risk.

Get in touch with us today to get started.

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