Substance abuse patterns will often temporarily, or permanently substitute other substances for their primary addictive drug. Such addicts and recovering addicts will always have a number of excuses for their actions and may in some instances believe that replacing one addiction for another is a sign of improvement. Replacing a substance with another is no less dangerous than an addition to a single substance, and can increase further danger of other underlying forms of addiction.

Common thoughts that lead to or support an addiction includes the belief that drugs or other is the gateway to creativity, is a tool for stress relief or relaxation, will ease boredom and will solve their painful emotional states. Both underlying addictive behaviour and thoughts is a conscious or unconscious desire to change the brains basic chemistry.

How does replacing one addiction with another occur? Addicts or recovering addicts that switching from one substance to another, are trying to justify that they are not addicted, and that they can modify their actions at any time. When it comes to substance abuse, they may also substitute one substance for another to ward off the effects of withdrawal, or substitute two or more drugs for their specific effects or use various drugs that are acceptable in their social group.

When an addict or recovering addict believes that replacing one addiction with another frees them from the burden of addiction, this will not alter their underlying behaviours and thoughts that support and lead to addiction. The new situation in fact creates an additional scenario of denial and deluded thinking, which can worsen the situation and make it far more difficult for the addict to truly start their path to recovery.

Not only do addicts substitute one substance for another, they may also substitute a drug with binge eating, gambling, binge shopping or sex addiction, to take their substance abuse to a whole new level. To avoid the dangers of replacing one addiction with another, extensive help is required from trained professionals who understand and recognize these patterns, where they can create new thoughts that will displace the addictive cycle.