How To Avoid Addiction Substitution

If you’ve followed my writings for any length of time, you know how often I warn of the dangers of porn addiction.

Porn is a cancer that is destroying men from the inside out.  I’ve dedicated my ministry to using my story of addiction and recovery to help other men find freedom from the bondage of sexual addiction.

But you cannot become too narrow-focused.  

While you’re focusing on battling your porn addiction, some other addiction or vice can jump up and bite you when you least expect it,

Be careful not to replace one addiction with another.

Too often, men fight back against porn addiction and find success, only to create another addiction somewhere else in their lives.  This process is called addiction substitution.  It’s very common in recovery.  It’s replacing one addiction with another addiction.  All it does is change the symptom instead of solving the root problem. 

Here are some things you should beware of that can become a “replacement” for your porn addiction:


Men often become workaholics in an effort to keep their mind occupied and stay busy.  While this might help to avoid temptations, it can create a host of other problems.  Stress is often the most apparent result.  Stress leads to burnout and eventually will lead to seeking “escape” and then you’re right back where you started.  Workaholism also causes you to spend time working instead of time with family, exercising, and connecting with your support system.


Watching professional sports is often fun entertainment.   Some of my best memories are going to Chicago Cubs games at Wrigley Field with my dad and brother.  But it can become obsessive.  Many men know all the stats of their favorite player on their favorite team but couldn’t tell you the names of their kid’s friends.  They’ll spend hours glued to the T.V. on Sunday afternoon but “can’t find the time” to read their Bible.  Beware that you don’t use sports as a distraction in the same way you used porn as a distraction.


Alcohol is a drug addiction just like porn is a drug addiction.  You relied on porn to get you through the day and to help you sleep at night.  Don’t replace that with relying on alcohol to help you function.  While it’s not always a bad thing to enjoy a nice cold beer after a long day or a glass of whiskey with a nice cigar, be careful that it doesn’t turn into a crutch.  

This is one I have struggled with.  Porn used to be my go-to stress reliever, and for a while, I simply replaced it with alcohol.  I’d go to booze to help “numb” the pain while doing nothing to actually treat the pain.  

Alcohol addiction can be just as devastating as porn addiction.  Make sure you check your blindside to keep it from becoming a problem.


Food can become a major addiction as well.  And it can go two ways.  Men often overeat and indulge in junk food to make themselves feel better.  The joy that you get from a tasty meal feels great… until it doesn’t.  It’s just like porn addiction.  We do it to feel better, then feel bad for doing it, so we do it again to feel better and on and on we go.  Don’t let a junk food cycle replace a porn addiction cycle.

On the flip side, many become obsessed over eating healthy and avoiding food to the point that becomes a problem as well.  Obviously, food is essential, but don’t let it become another addiction.  

Video Games

I’ve never really been a gamer.  The only console I’ve ever owned was a Playstation 2 that I got for my 12th birthday.  I know, I totally just aged myself with that one.  I know far too many men who are addicted to video games.  I’ve said before, “Not all porn addicts are video game addicts, but most video game addicts are porn addicts.”

Video games give you the same false sense of accomplishment and dopamine release that porn does.  Instead of “one more video”, it becomes “one more game”.  Too often, video games become an escape and distraction from the problems of life just like porn is.

They also create a dopamine deficit.  When gaming, you’re getting a constant barrage of dopamine with every “kill” in the game.  After playing, your brain is craving more and more dopamine.  So now you have to find a way to give yourself a boost.  What’s the easiest way to get a huge rush of dopamine?  You guessed it.  Porn.  

Beware of the danger video games can have on porn addiction recovery. 

How do I avoid addiction substitution?

This is the big question.  You understand you need to be careful not simply “replace” your porn addiction.  But how do you keep that from happening?

The key to lasting freedom from addiction is to treat the root problem.  Every addiction works the same.  We use our drug of choice to cover up or escape from negativity in our lives that we don’t want to or are unable to face.  

You have to treat the cause and not the symptom.

Dig deep to discover what’s really beneath your addiction.  Is it a fear of rejection?  Is it past abuse? Is it depression and anxiety?

Lasting recovery requires figuring out what that core emotional trigger is, then learning to process that pain or cope with that experience.  Once you have the power to face the thing you’ve been trying to cover up or escape from, it no longer has control over you.  Learning to process that pain in a healthy way removes the need to use our addiction to avoid it.  

This is what keeps us from bouncing from one addiction to the next and also provides lasting freedom and recovery.

So dig deep, find your strength, and face your demons.

This is the ONLY way to break the bonds of addiction.  It’s the only way to avoid replacing porn addiction with another negative behavior.  

The goal is lasting recovery, redemption, and renewal.  In order to live in freedom, you have to avoid addiction substitution.

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Published by Timothy Reigle

I’m Timothy Reigle, the founder of Into The Wilderness Ministries. After overcoming a fifteen year addiction to porn and sex, I have made it my life’s mission to help other men break free from the bonds of addiction. As an author, coach, and chaplain, I work with men to transform their lives by renewing their faith, re-energizing their families, and restoring their masculinity.

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