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Addiction Displacement

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The lollipop was a cigarette not too long ago.

"I tried to give up cigarettes. I bought a book on addiction. Apparently, if you're addicted to something, when you give it up you replace it with something else. Like a hobby. So I did a pottery course. First day, everyone made ashtrays."

This character is an alcoholic or other addict, but now they're on the wagon. So they take up some other habit to distract them from their cravings. Standard replacement habits include coffee or cigarettes (to replace alcohol) and gum or binge-eating (to replace tobacco).

This is Truth in Television; a habit becomes routine, and kicking the habit becomes much easier when you form a new routine (e.g., instead of rolling a cigarette, you open a pack of chewing gum). For more serious addictions, this may be even more true: according to some neurological schools of thought, when the brain becomes truly hooked on pleasure-causing chemicals released either due to a physical (e.g., drugs) or emotional (e.g., gambling) stimulus, it becomes virtually impossible to abandon that stimulus without consciously or subconsciously replacing it with another that produces a similar or better result.

Conveniently, such alternative addictions are also often narratively useful, as they allow portraying a character with an addiction that is neither completely crippling nor entirely an Informed Flaw, and can also provide a justification for treating a G-Rated Drug like a real one.

In situations Played for Laughs, it's not unusual for the substitution to 1) switch a mild drug for a worse drug, 2) cause the same kind of reactions even if it's supposed to be "healthier" or 3) Not really help put the addict's mind off the cravings.

See also Oral Fixation, for one of the most common ways to kick one of the most common addictions (cigarettes).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One Gadget of the Week from Doraemon can force an addiction on anyone who uses it, which Doraemon and Nobita decide to use on Nobisuke to temporarily cure his smoking addiction by making him addicted to chewing gum. Doraemon even jokingly suggests to let Nobita be addicted to studying, but when Gian tries forcing them to listen to his songs the duo decide to make themselves addicted to Gian's singing instead.
  • Saito Hajime was historically a heavy drinker,note  and the version of him who shows up in Rurouni Kenshin is a chain smoker instead, explaining that if he drinks, he becomes Ax-Crazy.
  • Near the end of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Misato seems to quit drinking alcohol after the death of Kaji and instead switches to canned coffee.
  • In Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi, Gaku Yashiro gained a sugar addiction after he stopped smoking and fills his glove compartment with candy. He also uses the candy to lure and murder children.
  • RaButa: When talking about cigarette withdrawal symptoms after finding out that Harundo is Going Cold Turkey, Fuyu mentions that one of her friends performed oral sex to fight her addiction. Harundo cuts her off before she can go into any details.

  • Bill Engvall mocked this on his standup album Dorkfish.
    "I got off cigarettes by using the patch, I got off the patch by smoking cigars, I got off cigars by doing crack, so I'm pretty much tobacco-free now."
  • A bon mot from Rodney Dangerfield:
    I tried marijuana once. Just once. I didn't know what I was doing...I was on cocaine at the time!

    Comic Books 
  • Lucky Luke, famously. Lucky Luke was created as a heavy smoker in a time where it wasn't controversial, and the way his mouth is classically drawn is designed to fit him having a cigarette in it at all times. In 1983, Morris had him munch a straw so as not to have to change his trademark mouth shape. Much later, the change was finally acknowledged in a story where someone offers Luke a cigarette, and he says that he has quit it and munches the straw as a way to deal with it. Morris received praise from the World Health Organization for having Lucky Luke quit smoking.
  • Tony Stark was an alcoholic. After he quit, he had to be careful of displacement addiction. He became a workaholic.
    • In Iron Man Rapture, before the mini-series, Tony had quit drinking. After his heart attack, he built himself a new heart and had it implanted. He became addicted to cyber enhancements.
    • Lately, it seems he's become addicted to coffee. In one issue he specifically asked for a gallon-drum with "some kind of intravenous drip."
  • In an eighties Archie story on the dangers of smoking, three teenagers unintentionally create a false fire alarm by chain-smoking in the boys' washroom at school. At the end, they apologize to the principal, Mr. Weatherbee, and inform him that from now on, whenever they have nicotine cravings, they'll chew gum instead.
    Weatherbee: Egad! Another habit I don't approve of. Oh, well. You win some, you lose some.
  • Justice Society of America has Rick Tyler, who, after overcoming an addiction to a fictional drug, admits that he'll always get hooked on something, and now it's the adrenaline and dopamine rush from superheroics.
    Rick: To be honest, I'm only realizing this now. I was addicted to a drug. And even though I've beaten that, I know I still have an addictive personality. There's nothing I can do to change it. But nothing's perfect. Including us. So I looked for something else to get addicted to. Like the rush of saving lives. I live to help others now. In or out of this costume.
  • In the Who Framed Roger Rabbit sequel comic, The Ressurection of Doom, Eddie Valient has taken up jellybeans as a replacement for his alcoholism.

    Fan Works 
  • Some more meta-conscious fanfic authors use this trope to lampshade a smoking character's substitute when transposed to a Lighter and Softer work, without actually reverting to the original smoker. For example, Pokémon Conquest has Hojo Ujiyasu, who smoked a clay pipe in Samurai Warriors, sporting a toothpick instead; this fan novelization describes Ujiyasu as "[having] a toothpick in his mouth like he was trying to kick a habit".
  • Cat Tales: In Vault, Bruce mentions that his false identity of Matches Malone (whom he uses to infiltrate criminal settings like the Iceburg) used to smoke two packs a day and switched to chewing his trademark matchstick as a substitute.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: In the sequel Picking up the Pieces, Chief Gordon (chief of police in the Essex region of the Griffish Isles) mentions that he switched to gum to get off cigarettes, and Wind decides to try it to help with his alcohol problem.
  • In Four Horsewomen-Family Is Forever, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon's oldest daughter Charlotte, gets sent to rehab for using oxycodene and marijuana. While there, she develops an obsession with cooking (it helps that the other patients, mostly male, like it), which she continues after she finishes rehab.
  • In Hell's Kitchen, Full of Grace, Jessica quit her drinking after finding out about that she was pregnant, she replaced it with unsweet tea.
  • In a Path To Munchies omake, Taylor manages to cure Amy's psuedo-incestuous crush on her adopted sister by displacing it into an addiction to Taylor's brownies.

  • Subverted in Clerks. Someone comes into the store to accuse the clerks of being "Death-Merchants" for serving people with cigarettes. He tries to convince every smoker to quitting smoking and start buying Chewlie's gum instead. He is then revealed to be a Chewlie's representative, merely out to sell more gum. Everyone gets kicked out of the store, and one smoker buys a pack of cigarettes before leaving.
  • Throughout Constantine (2005), the title character chain-smokes cigarettes despite having been diagnosed with lung cancer. At the end of the movie, his cancer is cured, and he's shown popping a stick of gum into his mouth to show that he's quitting smoking. What's particularly ironic about this is that in the comics, he intentionally tricks Hell into curing his cancer. This is done in such a way that they must make sure he doesn't die for a very long while, at least — so he goes right back to chain smoking as soon as his lung cancer's gone, swearing at the devil(s) as he does so.
  • In Lethal Weapon 3, Riggs is trying to quit smoking. Whenever he wants a cigarette, Murtagh gives him a dog biscuit to chew instead. At the end of the film, Riggs starts smoking again, claiming to do it to displace his dog biscuit addiction.
  • It's not stated outright, but one of the gangsters from Oop North in the Layer Cake film seems to have a case of this. He's very jittery and has something of a Hair-Trigger Temper, and he's always sucking on a lollipop.
  • Virtually all the vampires in Daybreakers smoke like chimneys. Granted, they don't have to worry about getting lung cancer, but given that their blood supply is swiftly running out, it's likely to be this trope at work as well.
  • Joey Pardella in Hackers attends a court-ordered AA-style addiction support group, supposedly for computer addiction. He claims not to be an addict while smoking Merits and chugging coffee.
  • Joe Clay from Days of Wine and Roses mitigates his need of alcohol with cigarettes. He tries to help his wife Kirsten with it too but everything is futile. Also, during the Alcoholics Anonymous scene several people in the room are seen anxiously smoking.
  • In the Fast & Furious sequels Han is frequently shown eating chips and other snacks. Another character correctly guesses that he's trying to kick his smoking habit.
  • Greg Focker in Meet the Parents, to impress his future father-in-law, the overprotective and former CIA operative Jack Byrnes, has to give up his smoking habit and chews nicotine gum to fill his need.
  • In Flickering Lights, the small-time gangster, Peter, has a serious drug addiction which repeatedly brings the other four members of his gang into trouble. Eventually the gang-leader, Thorkild, gets fed up with his unstable behavior and has him incarcerated inside a defunct walk-in freezer to force him to Going Cold Turkey. Afterwards, Peter does find a displacement for his drug addiction, namely by picking up a low-key alcohol addiction, but even this turn out to be an actual improvement and he becomes a much more stable and helpful member of the group afterwards.
  • Played with in Uncle Buck where the titular Buck Russell explains how he quit smoking cigarettes: he switched to cigars. The next three steps of his plan involve pipes, chewing tobacco, and nicotine gum.
  • Referenced in Get Him to the Greek: Aldous Snow has recently fallen Off the Wagon, but his ex-girlfriend Jackie points out that even when he was sober he would spend hours every day doing yoga. "There's nothing in this world that you can't turn into heroin."
  • T2 Trainspotting: On Renton's suggestion, Spud attempts to kick his heroin addiction by replacing his habit with something more productive. He eventually takes up writing and pens his memoir.

  • In the Aubrey-Maturin novels, Dr. Maturin develops a powerful addiction to the (opium-based) tincture of laudanum. After successfully kicking the habit, he finds a perfectly healthy substitute, one he knows to be non-addictive... the coca leaves chewed by the natives of Peru.note  After his coca leaves run out, Maturin takes to smoking cigars with increasing frequency instead.
  • Discworld:
    • The Black Ribboner vampires, who've sworn to abstain from drinking human blood, all now have some other addiction. It's implied that they're biologically required to be addicted to something.
      • For Maladict from Monstrous Regiment, it's coffee. Things get tense after a thief hits the soldiers' camp, leaving Maladict so out of sorts that the vampire begins suffering "flash-sides" and starts muttering about "Charlie" and the "LZ."
      • For Otto from The Truth, it's photography (which, given vampiric photosensitivity, has caused many an embarrassing situation).
      • The first-seen and apparently founding member Lady Margolotta claims that what vampires really wanted by drinking blood was power. She turned her addictions to politics.
      • The current head of the Ankh-Morpork chapter of the organization apparently collects bananas and obsessively builds matchstick models. Of human organs.
    • Vimes has replaced alcohol with cigars — and, maybe, police work. Or, alternatively, his actual addiction was always to justice, and he turned to drink when the Watch was basically powerless and thus incapable of delivering it - the more the Watch becomes capable of actually doing things that help people over the course of the series, the less he appears tempted to drink.
  • Played with in the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Traitor General. While behind enemy lines on the Chaos held planet Gereon, flame-trooper Brostin is unable to indulge himself in smoking. To satisfy his oral cravings, he keeps the unlit lho-stick in his mouth, without lighting it.
  • In Holes, Mr. Sir is a former cigarette addict, replacing them with the much more benign sunflower seeds. At the end of the book, he lapses back into smoking again.
  • All of the characters in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest — particularly the residents of Ennett House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House (sic) — to some extent, but none so horrifying as Randy Lenz's evening constitutionals.
  • In Peter Benchley's novel Rummies, protagonist Scott Preston is sent away to rehab for his drinking problem. He's advised to go back to smoking (something he'd quit ages ago) to help replace it.
  • In The Savannah Reid Mysteries, Dirk starts sucking on cinnamon sticks when he gives up smoking.
  • A variant occurs in the Sherlock Holmes stories. Rather than kicking one habit and replacing it with another, Holmes alternates between workaholism and cocaine, depending on whether he has a case to deal with or not. He insists that he's only addicted to mental stimulation, and doesn't need the cocaine when he actually has something to do, but Watson is skeptical of the viability of this coping mechanism. In a later story ("The Missing Three-Quarter"), he mentions that at some unspecified time, he had to wean Holmes off his drug habit and make him cut it out completely, so it's likely Holmes did develop a more serious addiction to cocaine that required Watson's intervention at some point.
  • In the Stephanie Plum books, Stephanie has a serious thing for cake, and a general fondness for sweets. When she gives up sugar for a while, her libido goes into overdrive. She manages to wear out Morelli, who finds almost any excuse to get it on with her. It gets to the point where he locks himself into his guest bedroom just to get a good night's sleep. He's normally very territorial when it comes to her dealings with Ranger, but, in this instance, he actually suggested that Stephanie avail herself of his rival to "take up the slack".
  • In A Study in Charlotte, Charlotte begins to smoke cigarettes to try to stop from using drugs. Jamie hates the smell of cigarette smoke, but she reminds him that it's better than the alternative.
  • In Tropic of Orange, Buzzworm traded smoking for a portable radio which he must have in his ears at all times. He spends a few paragraphs wondering if the batteries are any less expensive than the cigs were.
  • Sherman Alexie loves to have recovering alcoholics/smokers/drug addicts drink soda for some reason.
  • Brazilian writer Luis Fernando Verissimo once wrote a comedic text about addictions, specifically smoking (and diets). It ranged from simple replacements ("Gimme candy. Gimme bubblegum. Gimme a pencil to chew. Gimme your nails to bite, mine are over!") to... unorthodox methods:
    "I quit smoking, Chief."
    "That's a reason to strangle 17 people?"
    "Didn't know what to do with my hands."
  • In Anno Dracula 1899: One Thousand Monsters, Captain Kostaki has quietly become a Vegetarian Vampire since the first book, but worries that he's reliant on sucking aniseed balls (strongly-flavored hard sweets) to maintain this, and you can't get them in Japan.
  • Mentioned in Ugly Memories by ML Lanzillotta. Junkies apparently crave sweets after detoxing. Interestingly, the author once wrote an article about opioid addicts eating candy to "take the edge off" between fixes.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: Discussed. Bria refuses to drink because she's afraid of getting addicted again since giving up Exultation, as she'd learned this could happen. However, it might be felt her zeal as an anti-slavery Rebel is itself kind of an addiction itself, and she admits finding a cause was what most helped in her recovery.
  • In Neuromancer, Case was addicted to the Matrix, but then he screwed over a client and they altered his nervous system so that he could no longer go online, so he switched to amphetamines and cocaine. However, after his Matrix ability is restored and his pancreas is modified to neutralize his usual drugs, his addiction to stimulants remains and he spends most of the book looking for a new drug that can get him high.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In season 1 of Leverage, Nate is The Alcoholic. When he quits in season 2, he starts drinking a truly massive amount of coffee. What's more, the other characters fear he is pulling riskier and riskier cons in order to substitute for alcohol, and worry that, if they fail one, he could fall off the wagon again. Ironically, he starts drinking again to help sell a con, but once he's started he can't stop.
  • The title character of Kojak had the trademark of sucking on a lollipop or Tootsie pop. Although often recalled as his way of quitting smoking, this isn't correct, as he continued to smoke throughout the series, but cut back his intake using the lollipops. Who loves ya, baby?
  • On NewsRadio:
    • Bill tries to give up smoking by taking up chewing tobacco.
    • Beth claims to chew so much gum because it keeps her from smoking.
  • The Nutt House: Big Jake chews sunflower seeds after having just given up chewing tobacco.
  • In an episode of Profit Jim fakes one of these in order to manipulate a wife of a rival into believing that, like her, he is a recovering alcoholic.
  • On Hightown: Jackie uses her obsession with solving the murder to help stay sober.
  • On House:
    • Tritter, the detective in season 3, is always seen chewing nicotine gum. When he first goes to the clinic because he thinks he has an STD, House says his problem was actually caused by dehydration from the nicotine gum.
    • House himself does this in Season 6 after checking himself into a psychiatric hospital. He gets high-dose ibuprofen (i.e. super-triple-extra-strength Advil) for the leg pain and replaces the psychological effects of the Vicodin with whiskey. For a little while he also tries cooking as an emotional outlet rather than being an asshole to his patients. Cooking works, but he prefers medicine.
  • Some see Count von Count, of Sesame Street, as having replaced his bloodlust with obsessive counting. However, counting things is itself a common vampire weakness in mythology, though he probably isn't weak to that, seeing as how he can move around in daylight just fine.
  • DS Ronnie Brooks in Law & Order: UK replaces an alcohol addiction with a sugar one and puts on two stonenote  of weight.
  • One My Hero (2000) episode had George become addicted to pork scratchings. Tyler recommends substituting bacon-flavored crisps.
  • In one episode of Parenthood, two characters say that even though they quit smoking years ago, they can't quit the nicotine gum.
  • When Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear (UK) quits smoking around series 8, he briefly takes up the Koenigsegg CCX as an astronomically expensive substitute.
    Clarkson: [while testing it on track] WHO NEEDS NICOTINE?!!
  • Twin Peaks: Ben Horne gives up smoking and uses carrots in a place of cigars.
  • The X-Files:
    • Fans of The X-Files have speculated that Mulder's habit of eating sunflower seeds came from quitting smoking. Which would draw a contrast between him and the Cigarette Smoking Man, who turns out to be his biological father.
    • Others speculate that, since he is addicted to porn, he is simply displacing that addiction while he's on the job.
  • On Heroes, Sylar meets his biological father who, like himself, was driven by a Horror Hunger to seek out other superpowered people and steal their powers, but who has since given it up. His father tells him that if he wants to quit, too, he should find "something to keep your hands busy," and this is why he became a taxidermist.
  • Discussed in Cheers. Sam (a former alcoholic) notes he's seen other addicts recover this way, and seems to constantly be drinking coffee or bottled water in most of his scenes. In the penultimate episode, Sam realized that he was addicted to sex.
  • Discussed in Season 3 of Arrow, where Oliver accuses Laurel of using the vigilante lifestyle as a replacement for her drug/alcohol addiction (kicked the previous season). She furiously tells him that is not a card he gets to play against her (especially given that he's thrown this in her face before), and if anyone is using vigilantism to hide from their feelings, it's him.
  • Midnight Caller: While trying to quit smoking, Jack tries chewing gum and playing with wooden balls.
  • Southland: A post-rehab Dewey switches from drinking alarming amounts of cheap whiskey to drinking alarming amounts of coffee. Cooper (who is really not in a position to pass judgement, incidentally) wearily notes that this is going to make working with him rather trying. He's not wrong.
  • A recurring problem on Mom as characters inadvertently pick up new habits while trying to stay sober. Christy has become addicted to gambling and cigarettes at different points in the series, while Jill started overeating.
  • Seinfeld: In "The Pez Dispenser", Jerry hosts an intervention for a drug-addicted friend named Richie Appel. The morning after, Jerry tells George that Richie saw the eponymous Pez dispenser, which triggered a childhood memory and led to him deciding to go to rehab. Jerry reveals that Richie, now sober, is hooked on Pez.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: In "Bad Habits", the main trio are trying to kick various habits. Cookie in particular spends the episode trying to replace his hoarding habit with healthier ones, including chewing gum which quickly transitions into munching on three packs of gum in one go, and chewing pencils which turns into him painfully chewing through his fingernails.
  • Peep Show: Super Hans tries to kick his myriad drug habits by filling his time with a bunch of new hobbies, including running. This backfires when he becomes so hooked on the endorphin rush of exercise that he runs non-stop all the way to Windsornote , before collapsing in the street from exhaustion and having to phone Jez for help.
    "My legs are gone, man! I'm a jelly! I'm paralysed! It feels fucking brilliant!"
  • CSI: NY: In season 8, Mac reveals to Christine that her brother, Stan, who was his partner back in the day and had been killed in the line of duty pre-series, had been trying to quit smoking at the time and had taken up the habit of chewing on ink pens instead.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • After being in a car accident in WCW, Eddie Guerrero got addicted to his pain medicine, which lead to him being fired from the World Wrestling Federation. From there he kicked his habits by working for promotions on the independent circuit such as IWA Mid-South, The International Wrestling Cartel and Ring of Honor, saying he was still addicted, but to competing with the younger wrestlers rather than to drugs.
  • The Last Real Man Silas Young used to be a heroin addict before he became a pro wrestler and became too dedicated to his new sport to keep up the habit.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney: Implied in the first Ace Investigations game with Detective Badd, who is always shown with a cigarette in his mouth. When he gets passionate talking about the Yatagarasu, he takes it out, revealing it to be a pink lollipop. That he proceeds to gesticulate with.
  • There used to be a game on the Homestar Runner site called "The Cheat's Smoking Challenge", where you control the Cheat collecting nicotine patches to kick his smoking habit. Finishing with a high enough score prompts Strong Bad to comment that he's now become a heavy coffee drinker instead.
  • Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten: Valvatorez has replaced his need for human blood with sardines. While it doesn't provide any of the benefits of drinking human blood (he's gone through a rather massive Depower since he's stopped), he's at least not dealing with the warm bloodbags issue.
  • Resident Evil 4: Loosely implied in the scene where the protagonist Leon first meets his Handsome Lech ally, Luis Sera. Luis asks Leon if he's got a smoke, to which Leon replies "Got gum."
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey: When you meet Hariti, she rhapsodizes about how she no longer needs to eat human flesh. Talk to another demon nearby, however, and he tells you that she gets a little weird on full moons. Turns out that she's taken to eating pomegranates instead, and there's a side quest where you have to fetch one for her.
  • Warcraft: Played with in the lore: High Elves have been addicted to magic for at least 10,000 years. Their addiction hasn't changed too much, but since the Sunwell was destroyed in Warcraft III, the Blood Elves (who had a complete reliance on the Sunwell) had to find a new source to channel their magical power or suffer from a debilitating withdrawal. They did this by absorbing magic from creatures, getting them addicted to Fel energy instead of Arcane energy. The few remaining High Elves have long since learned to replace their reliance on the Sunwell with meditation, or being within range of a Night Elf Moonwell, playing this trope a little straighter.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Happy Tree Friends episode "False Alarm", Nutty manages to kick his sugar addiction but quickly finds himself becoming addicted to video games instead.


    Web Original 
  • Game Grumps: Dan has said that Skittles have become this for him after a recent sickness left him somehow unable to drink alcohol.
  • Johnny from Shadow of the Templar swapped cigarettes for flavored toothpicks.

    Western Animation 
  • One heavy-handed episode of 101 Dalmatians: The Series has Cruella de Vil attempt to quit smoking, and move in with Anita until she can. When she finally kicks the habit, she takes up gum chewing, and the episode ends with Cruella moving back in with Anita until she can quit chewing gum.
  • In one episode of Family Guy, Peter swears to quit drinking. The next scene opens with him lighting a crack pipe.
  • Hey Arnold! has a few G-rated examples.
    • The Chocolate Boy does this to his chocolate addiction, turning it into a radish addiction.
    • Implied with Miriam when she becomes the Beeper Queen. She dumps her "smoothies" and picks up her life, only to become a workaholic.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: In one episode, Stimpy overcomes his addiction to becoming a gambling addict.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Barney switches from drinking beer to drinking coffee. Then Moe opens an espresso stand...
    • When Marge goes into drug rehab for her alcoholism, she notes that everyone there just switches addictions.
      "The smokers are drinking, the drinkers are smoking, and the gamblers are having sex with anything that moves."
    • To get Homer to stop drinking and overeating, Marge tries to get him addicted on bell peppers.
    • In The Simpsons Movie, Springfield falls into chaos after the coffee pot at AA gets smashed.
    • In another episode, Krusty starts using nicotine patches to displace his cigarette smoking, but instead ends up addicted to the patches.
    • When Otto is confronted with open legal weed, questions from a professional, and a police officer on hand who just has a suggestion, he has a freakout where "the world no longer makes sense", goes to Moe's Tavern and, to everyone's surprise, he asks for a beer. (He finds his way back to pot shortly thereafter.)
  • In one episode of King of the Hill, Dale tries to quit smoking and replaces that habit with chewing tobacco. He later quits chewing tobacco and decides to simply inhale the tobacco leaves' aroma instead, by loading his chewing tobacco into a paper tube. Boomhauer lights the tube and Dale declares it a "marvelous new invention." Finally, he gives up and goes back to smoking.
  • South Park:
    • At the end of "Major Boobage", Kenny stops getting high on cat urine... and gets high by sniffing flowers.
    • The episode "Bloody Mary" goes farther to say that Alcoholics Anonymous is this, and that it manipulates people to feel like they're powerless to do anything about their addictions. This is actually a heavily-debated topic, since numerous people have compared A.A. to a cult in Real Life
  • Futurama: In the second segment of "Anthology of Interest I", Leela (in a potential reality where she's more impulsive) becomes a serial murderer. After killing the Professor and Hermes, she vows to curb her habit by chewing gum, but then Amy says something that offends her, and Leela she asks her if she has any gum. She didn't.
  • Parodied on Kaeloo, where Mr. Cat says he gave up on carrots (considered in universe to be a G-Rated Drug) and developed an addiction to torturing Quack Quack instead.
  • In Class of the Titans, the Greek god Dionysus has discarded his love of booze and replaced it with a near obsession with chemistry and science.
  • The Loud House:
    • In "Undie Pressure", the siblings undergo a bet to never engage with their most annoying habits. Luna, whose bet is to never speak in a British accent, decides to circumvent this by speaking in a Swedish accent.
    • In "Candy Crushed", Lola undergoes a bet to never have sweets for a week. Under her mom Rita's advice, she eats celery sticks instead whenever she craves sweets. Unfortunately for Lola, the one day she doesn't bother to bring celery sticks with her, her class has a field trip to a candy factory.
  • In the Walt Disney Presents special "Goofy's Salute to Father", one sequence has Goofy attempting to kick a smoking habit (as shown in the short No Smoking). Once he does, however, he promptly becomes an overeater (as shown in Tomorrow We Diet).
    Narrator: Ah, but nature abhors a vacuum. And a void left by one habit is invariably filled by another. And we mean filled.

    Real Life 
  • There's a fairly common phrase: "Nature abhors a vacuum." It's recommended for people trying to kick an addiction to replace it with a "healthy" addiction, such as exercise or some type of arts and crafts hobby.
  • Nicotine:
    • Ronald Reagan smoked when he was younger. Later in life, he decided to give it up and ate jelly beans every time he wanted a smoke. He managed to successfully kick his tobacco habit, and the jelly beans became his Trademark Favorite Food.
    • Liam Neeson started playing with toothpicks as a replacement for smoking, which has almost grown into an obsession according to his fellow cast members.
    • Smokers sometimes switch to chew/snuff. Nicotine gum is intended to mentally disassociate nicotine from smoking, reassociate it with chewing gum, then wean people off onto normal chewing gum. Chewing gum by itself is popular among former smokers or people attempting to quit if they have an Oral Fixation. Unsurprisingly, many people just stay addicted to the gum, switch to chew/snuff, or combine smoking with one or more of the above.
      • J. K. Rowling was experiencing stress in the middle of writing Harry Potter while on chewing gum, and ended up smoking again on top of her gum. Thankfully, she managed to wean off those addictions later... onto Minesweeper.
      • John Green switched from cigarettes to nicotine gum in his twenties and was ecstatic that he could get his nicotine fix without worrying about cancer. By the time he decided to quit nicotine altogether, he was chewing the equivalent of four packs of cigarettes a day.
    • An unintended side effect of smoking cessation campaigns is that people are eating when they would otherwise be smoking, leading to a rise in obesity, making one particular cigarette ad from the 1920s telling women to reach for a cigarette instead of candy Harsher in Hindsight. Doesn't help that many snack food companies also sell cigarettes (for example, RJ Reynolds (Camel, Pall Mall, Newport) was merged with Nabisco (Chips Ahoy, Oreo, Triscuit, Ritz) from 1985 until 1999.)
      • Part of it is also that cigarettes are a hunger suppressant, leading to a loss in weight. So, regardless of any conscious change in eating habits, people quitting smoking can gain weight. The reduction in smoking across much of the developed world has been speculated to be one of the many causes of rising obesity rates.
  • Drugs:
    • Alice Cooper replaced alcohol with golf.
    • Robert Downey Jr. became an avid kung fu practitioner after kicking alcohol and other drugs.
    • George W. Bush successfully dropped drugs including alcohol. Instead, he picked up exercise and religion. Also, at some point, his wife said, "It's the booze or me." He chose her.
    • In a 2012 interview with Runner's World, Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard said that his first day without alcohol was his first day running. His appearance has changed dramatically as a result.
    • After giving up alcohol, cocaine and heroin, Trent Reznor went from rail-thin to ultra buff by replacing his drug habit with weightlifting.
    • Writer ML Lanzillotta tried to replace her Heroin habit with cooking, candy, and ballet.
    • Anthony Kiedis became known as the "world's healthiest rock star" because he replaced his massive drug and alcohol addiction with fitness. This includes plenty of jogging, surfing, and swimming (in chlorine-free pools or the ocean), but also a mostly vegetarian diet, Kabbalah, acupuncture, and ozone injections.
    • James Taylor first replaced his drug addiction with aerobics, engaging in intense hours-long sessions each day. He switched to windsurfing when age began slowing him down.
    • Eminem swapped Ambien, Vicodin and Valium for a running addiction that nearly wrecked his knees. While he needed to lose weight, he also developed an obsession with dieting, though he returned to a healthier weight as he recovered. He also developed such an extreme addiction to caffeinated drinks that he had Diet Coke fountains installed in his house.
    • Juice WRLD attempted to get over his Xanax addiction by switching to Percocet, which unfortunately is a much more dangerous drug than Xanax (especially as he was already on lean, another opioid) and caused damage to his health in the year before his death.
  • One for another:
    • If you go to a NA or AA meeting or something like that, expect a lot of the people to be smokers, which can be hell if you decide to kick that habit (though many of them were smokers before they tried to quit their other addiction, at which point it doesn't really fit the trope.). Also expect to see lots and lots of coffee, or diet sodas.
      • The fun part is that there's probably a Caffeine Addicts Anonymous down the hall.
    • There's a new kind of Monster Energy drink called "Rehab". No prizes for guessing the target market for that - although the marketing also suggests it's good for hangovers, so they get you either way.
    • According to Kevin Smith, once Jason Mewes finally kicked heroin for good, he started drinking tons of Red Bull. As do most of his support group, which led Smith to muse that they should actually market the stuff to recovering addicts. Smith himself wound up switching from smoking cigarettes to smoking pot.
    • The recovering alcoholic or drug addict who "found religion"—and subsequently became obsessed with their new faith—is incredibly common in both fiction and Real Life. Many cults will go after people who are recovering addicts (or in other difficult spots in life where their critical reasoning skills aren't up to their usual speed) for exactly this reason.
      • Some denominations believe that being gay is just another kind of addiction and can be "cured" by similar means, including avoiding "tempting situations". Some alumni of so-called conversion therapy complain that they got fat because they were discouraged from going to the gym and would reach for food instead.
      • The flip side of this is that people who leave religions that shun alcohol and other drugs will sometimes get hooked on them because of the bad combination of curiosity about the substances and lack of experience with them (and thus not knowing how to use them in moderation).
    • According to Pattie Boyd's book, Eric Clapton kicked his heroin habit by becoming an alcoholic. It took at least another 10 years for him to kick that addiction.
    • Heroin was originally marketed as a means to treat morphine addictions. The body simply metabolizes heroin into morphine. Since heroin gets into the brain faster than morphine and is converted right there, the high is more intense. This has recurred throughout the history of opiate development for some time. Every time someone creates a new opiate, it turns out that it's just as or more addictive and powerful than the last one.
      • From Annie Hall: "I used to be a heroin addict, now I'm a methadone addict."
    • Craig Ferguson replaced alcohol with cigarettes, and later cigarettes with fancy coffee drinks. He often comments on his Starbucks habit.
    • If you go to enough [Substance] Anonymous meetings, you'll find one or more people whose lives revolve around their [Whatever] Anon groups. They have actually gotten addicted to...addiction support groups.
    • Writer and actress Zoë Lund kicked her heroin addiction, only to start doing cocaine instead. Tragically, she passed away from a heart failure caused by an overdose.
    • Jazz legend Bill Evans also went the "kick heroin/stay clean for a while/start doing cocaine" route, which was most likely a big factor in his death from a bleeding ulcer at age 51.
  • Obsessive people will always have some sort of obsession. Once they're over, say, washing their hands every five minutes, they'll almost immediately move on to rearranging their desk whenever someone touches it.
    • Humorist David Sedaris experienced this firsthand. As a boy, he had many obsessive-compulsive tics. During college, he became a smoker, and smoking eventually came to replace his tics.
  • A common tactic to treat heroin and other opiates addicts is to get them addicted to methadone or Suboxone. Going cold turkey on opiates is horrible and can lead to death from the withdrawal symptoms. (Amy Winehouse died because she decided to go cold turkey on all of her addictions. The shock from that was enough to kill her since she already was unhealthy from the drugs.) The methadone is given in highly-regulated doses that are slowly decreased. Unlike heroin, methadone does not induce a high, so methadone users can avoid withdrawal symptoms while developing a stable lifestyle.
  • Social media. How many people have given up Facebook, only to move to Tumblr, or Twitter, or YouTube, or....
  • Other: A common behavior exhibited by people who are trying to quit smoking—or are forced to spend time in places where smoking is forbidden—often substitute the oral aspects of the habit by sucking on pens, eyeglass temples, toothpicks, etc.


Video Example(s):


Peter Does Crack

Blaming his alcoholism for his father's death, Peter vows never to drink again. Almost immediately, he finds something new to become addicted to.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / AddictionDisplacement

Media sources: