incredible-marketing Arrow
Why Does Our Drug of Choice Sometimes Change?

Many of us struggling with addiction find ourselves addicted to more than one substance or behavior over the course of our experience with addiction, and over time our drug of choice can sometimes transition from one thing to another, even in recovery. The underlying cause behind this change can be different for each of us, as our overall experiences with addiction are always unique to us and our life story. For some of us, we feel we have an addictive personality and form a dependence on nearly any addictive drug or behavior we try. For others of us, we started forming an addiction to one specific thing from a very early age, often because it was modeled to us by older family members or caregivers. When we grow up watching our parents drink, for example, we often will turn to alcohol ourselves as a coping mechanism. Our patterns can change over time, and we might find ourselves picking up new drugs and behaviors along the way, adding to our current addictions or replacing them as we go. Why does this happen?

Some of us find that one drug or behavior functions like a gateway to other ones, meaning once we experiment with it, it opens us up to trying others. We might have been afraid or hesitant to try drugs at all, and then once we do, we feel more comfortable and confident trying others. We might feel that once we’ve felt the high from one source, we want to experience others, and we might be curious how a different drug will impact us. Many of us build up a tolerance for one drug, and we feel as though we need to look elsewhere to attain the high we’re desperately seeking. We might find that one drug no longer makes us feel like we’re escaping our pain or successfully being distracted from whatever it is we’re avoiding. We might find it doesn’t help us to numb ourselves or self-medicate from our depression, anxiety and other mental health issues anymore. We feel unsatisfied with our current high so we try to find a new one.

Sometimes our drug of choice will change because we’ve been trying to achieve sobriety or abstinence, and in that time, we’ve picked up another habit that we assume is less harmful because it’s not the original drug that we had the torturous relationship with. For example, if we quit drinking, we might pick up smoking cigarettes to help us cope with our unhealed anxiety. We assume that because cigarettes don’t cause us the same harmful consequences we experienced with alcohol that it’s not that big of a deal, that we won’t get addicted, that it’s just a way to cope, but because we are addicts and form addictive patterns easily, and because drugs are so addictive, we form a dependence, often before we’re even aware of it. We’re therefore not actually in recovery, although we might feel as though we are because we’re no longer dependent on the drug we originally had a problem with. We’re still caught in the cycles of addiction, even when we feel we’ve made progress because we’ve successfully freed ourselves from one form of dependence. When we go from one drug to another, we’re still addicts and we’re still grappling with addiction, but the coping mechanism might have changed. The drug, the appearance of our addictions, and the symptoms we’re experiencing might have changed, but we’re still cycling through the same patterns. We might have always thought of one particular drug as the source of our problem, since we had such a painful relationship with it. But because the unhealed pain fueling the addiction is the real problem, because it’s the deepest layer rather than the outer layer, the different drugs we become addicted to can often be interchangeable to us. What we become addicted to is ultimately far less relevant than why we became addicted to it in the first place.

Examining why and how our patterns change over time can help us have a deeper understanding of ourselves and how our addictions function in our lives. What issues are we trying to avoid by getting high? What thoughts and emotions are we trying to distract ourselves from? Our addictions are the coping mechanisms we develop when we don’t have healthy tools to manage our mental and emotional health. What mental and emotional health issues have you yet to address? What memories, traumatic experiences and wounds are you trying to escape when you get high? What hurts and fears do your drugs of choice help you remove yourself from?

We become fixated on the high we get from our drug of choice because it gives us the release and detachment we’re looking for, the sense of relief, the emotional escape and comfort we feel desperate for. We feel like we need it. When our drug of choice changes, we might temporarily feel as though our problems have been solved. We’ve found our solution. We might not have the same negative effects right away with one drug that we had with the other. We might not identify as addicts anymore. Until we’ve really healed ourselves subconsciously, however, our drug of choice might have changed but we’re still using something outside of ourselves to cope with our inner pain.

The Guest House is a welcoming and supportive recovery home where you will be met with open arms, wherever where you are on your journey, without judgment or expectation. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.