What Are 5 Things to Know About Addiction Transference During a Drug Rehab Outpatient Program?

Addiction is a complex condition that can have devastating consequences. The persistent and prolonged use of addictive substances causes changes in the brain chemistry thus making recovery a challenge with many hurdles to overcome. One of these struggles is addiction transference or replacing the old addiction with a new one.

Addiction transference can present unique difficulties in outpatient rehabilitation programs because these programs are designed to allow more independence and less structure than inpatient programs; being aware of these difficulties, understanding the process of recovery, and finding a compatible drug rehabilitation program will help prevent addiction transference from occurring.

5 things to understand about addiction transference while participating in a drug rehab outpatient program are listed below.

What is addiction transference?

Addiction transference refers to replacing one type of addiction with another. Addiction wreaks havoc on the brain’s reward centers; it influences the brain to become motivated by compulsive behaviors that produce instant gratification.

Having an addiction changes the brain’s hardwiring and the number of feel-good neurotransmitters being released.; this doesn’t change when the drug is no longer being used or the compulsive behavior stops. It takes time for the brain to heal and it may never return to its original state. Finding other unhealthy behaviors that stimulate the brain release the same endorphins can easily fill the void.

Types of transference addictions include compulsive behaviors like:
• Gambling
• Shopping
• Binge Eating
• Smoking / Vaping
• Increase in Libido
• Excessive Online Gaming
• Increased Caffeine Intake

What are outpatient drug rehab programs, and do they have restrictions?

Outpatient drug rehabilitation programs are designed to allow people in recovery to maintain their responsibilities while they are continuing to work their normal jobs and live at home. Treatment comes in various forms and is offered in a facility the patient attends daily at agreed-upon scheduled times. Patients in this setting often attend support groups like AA and narcotics anonymous.

Many outpatient programs don’t offer services for multi-faceted recovery programs or complicated addictions. When there is addiction transference, patients can be dropped from attending the outpatient treatment program or they won’t receive the services they need to be successful in their recovery. Research states that the recovery rate for outpatient drug treatment programs has less success than inpatient programs.

How is recovery affected?

Addiction transference affects the recovery process because it interrupts the recovery cycle and initiates the relapse cycle of addiction. The cycle of addiction is restarted as the new behavior satisfies the urge for instant gratification; this creates new patterns and behaviors that satisfy the brain\’s reward system without allowing the brain proper healing time. This newly formed addiction will need to be considered and added as part of the recovery treatment plan.

Addictions don’t go away; they are treated through programs that teach you the tools needed to abstain from their use. When another negative behavior replaces the current one, it will most likely compound and spiral out of control into a relapse of the original addiction. Drug recovery in an outpatient program can allow more opportunity for another addiction to the surface which impedes or prolongs the recovery process.

What is the program structure and how is monitoring accomplished?

The program structure for outpatient drug rehab allows for more independence and unmonitored situations without recovery support. The intensity of this program depends on the severity and type of addiction that is being addressed but is limited in services that patients may need. This lack of structure and support can leave the patient vulnerable to addiction transference or relapse in their unmonitored social settings.

What level of support is offered?

In the early stages of sobriety, you are highly vulnerable to acquiring new compulsive behaviors that can turn into addictions. Support for outpatient rehabilitation programs are often utilized after the patient participates in an inpatient setting, depending on the severity of the addiction, the complexity of the situation, and what other medical care and services are needed.


Understanding addiction and the recovery process will allow you to be aware of the challenges that you might face. We can help you make the best choice in rehab programs for you or your loved one. We are here to provide support and answer any questions that you might have concerning addiction. Please call us at 833-610-1174.

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