Once you enter treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction, your hope is that you have overcome the compulsion to turn to your substance of choice. In recovery, you get to learn new coping skills and you surround yourself with people who understand what it’s like to rely on alcohol and drugs. Addiction goes beyond using too much of a substance. It is about an inner challenge to work on the reasons why addiction started and continues. Substitute addictions come up when a person quits one substance and tries something else because they have not dealt with the true nature of their addiction.
A common substitute in recovery is food. It is easily available, legal, and not something people think about because they have to eat every day. Now that the person is not drinking or using drugs, it is easy to reach for cookies, cake or candies. Perhaps the person opens the fridge to console themselves with leftovers or whatever else they might find. Overeating may make you feel better now that you cannot numb your feelings any other way.
Some people feel sober life is boring, so turn to other things for excitement. This may lead to gambling. It may start off as innocent fun, but at some point, the person may realize they are gambling compulsively. When the person cannot control this impulse, in spite of negative consequences, they may have replaced their addiction with gambling.