How Do Rehabs Avoid Addiction Transference?

Addiction transference, or cross addiction, refers to suffering from multiple addictions. For example, it is common that someone addicted to alcohol becomes addicted to drugs or vice versa. But the phenomenon has a particular kind of danger when getting treatment in alcohol and drug rehab.

The problem is that many recovering addicts unknowingly replace one addiction with another. They stop using alcohol and start binge eating. They stop using drugs and start playing video games all day. The new addiction may seem harmless at first, but is a way of avoiding really dealing with the core issue.

Rehabs need to prepare residents for the possibility of addiction transference, especially when they are ready to go back to their normal lives. How do rehabs avoid setting residents up to replace one addiction with another?

Dual-Diagnosis Rehab

Addiction transference after rehab occurs because the underlying issues are not fully dealt with. This is why it is important to choose a dual-diagnosis rehab. Dual-diagnosis refers to an approach that considers most forms of addiction as one of multiple co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders refer to other mental illnesses such as depression, OCD, and bipolar disorder.

In some cases, these illnesses triggered the addiction, while in other cases the opposite is true. Regardless of which happens to be the case, without treating co-occurring disorders, recovery is unlikely to last.

In dual-diagnosis rehabs, it is not just the addiction that is treated. Any issues that caused or exacerbated the addiction are confronted, and the recovering addict is given tools with which to heal. This prevents addiction transference, as the need the addiction was trying to meet is either no longer present or manageable in a healthy way.


Another important way rehabs prevent addiction transference is by educating residents about the possibility. Most residents of a rehab center know a lot about their own addiction, while having little experience with other addictions. Thus, when they pick up another “habit” that helps them feel better, they are unaware that it is an addiction.

Educating residents about what addiction really is – including the symptoms across all types of addiction – as well as the possibility of addiction transference goes a long way towards preventing it from happening.


When a person leaves rehab, their recovery is far from over. They have the tools to face the outside world, but still need support. Good addiction recovery centers provide aftercare or outpatient treatment. This refers to continued sessions with groups, doctors, and therapists to help former residents continue their recovery journeys.

It is in aftercare that doctors, therapists, and fellow recovers will pick up on a person’s addiction transference, even if they cannot see it themselves. This way, the person gets help preventing the transference from becoming a problem.

Addiction transference is something every rehab needs to help residents avoid. Dual-diagnosis rehab centers provide the best opportunity to deal with the core issues that are triggering the addiction, rather than focusing on the symptom.

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