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Transfer Addictions

May 12, 2021        Written by, Amanda Dutton, MS, LPC 

Amanda Dutton has a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Phoenix and is licensed in professional counseling in the states of Georgia and Colorado and registered to provide telehealth to Florida. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Health Psychology to improve her understanding of the mind and body connection.

She has been providing counseling in a variety of settings, including community mental health, hospitals and in private practice since 2011. She has been serving adults with depression, anxiety, chronic pain and illness as well as individuals who have had or are considering bariatric surgery. Having had successful bariatric surgery in 2005, Amanda has a special interest in this community.

PRIOR TO BARIATRIC SURGERY

 

A lot of us don’t realize how much we depended on food prior to our bariatric surgery to cope with or distract from feelings, stress or boredom. I know it was a shock to me! At first it seemed manageable because my body just couldn’t handle hardly anything, but then the “head hunger” started, and I got angry. 

I couldn’t escape. I couldn’t dive into a bag of chips or a box of cookies. I couldn’t sit down with a pizza. Yeah, I was losing a ton of weight, and that was great, but I was still seeing everyone around me eating everything they wanted, and suddenly I started questioning if I had done the right thing.
 

Wasn’t this supposed to change how I feel? Wasn’t I supposed to be HAPPY??

 

That’s when I developed my own transfer addiction. I fought with it for almost 8 years. Now, it’s been in my past for just as long. It’s been “transferred” right out of my life.

This is what happens to a lot of us and can lead to trying to find something else to fill that void. For some bariatric surgery  patients, that can turn into something called a “transfer addiction.”

What is a “Transfer Addiction?”

 
When we lose our primary coping tool – as much food as we want, whenever we want – and can’t escape whatever emotions we’re feeling, we can start looking for other ways to deal with or avoid those feelings. Hopefully, we can find healthy ways, whether through therapy, activities, friends or other positive outlets.
 

But for some of us, we turn to tools are a little more destructive. Shopping, which can be fun as we move to smaller sizes, can become a problem if spending gets out of control. Relationships can become complicated as we start feeling more confident and getting more attention. 

For some of us, those transfer addictions become avenues of escape into drugs or alcohol. There is a big reason that many surgeons tell us not to drink alcohol for a year after surgery. It’s not just because of the surgery itself, but since our brains are craving some way to “reward” ourselves and feel better, we seek out temporary “boosts,” which come even quicker after surgery with things like alcohol. 

“Feeling the feelings” is HARD

 

But even with those temporary escapes, the feelings come back. Just like they did before surgery. Transfer addictions only offer a short-term escape, not a real solution. 

It’s not an easy journey. I’ve been there. Facing your emotions and learning that you have to face ALL the emotions is tough. Accepting that in order to feel the good, you also have to feel the bad is HARD. It feels easier to distract from them and numb out, but in the end, when they keep coming back and you don’t know what to do to get them under control, you’re better off having the tools to cope than to keep running away.

If you’d like to learn more about ways to cope with your emotions and avoid (or work toward managing) transfer addictions, I’d love to walk beside you on your journey.

Amanda Dutton has a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Phoenix and is licensed in professional counseling in the states of Georgia and Colorado.

She has been providing counseling in a variety of settings, including community mental health, hospitals and in private practice since 2011. She has been serving adults with depression, anxiety, chronic pain and illness as well as individuals who have had or are considering bariatric surgery. Having had successful bariatric surgery in 2005, Amanda has a special interest in this community. She enjoys working with her clients using a variety of therapeutic approaches, including solution-focused and a blend of person-centered and narrative approaches. Amanda is warm and compassionate, balancing collaboration with her clients with a desire to help them move forward in their lives.

Schedule a session with Amanda.

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As an online mental health counseling practice, our mission is to offer a variety of online therapy services to help you focus on your wellbeing. We take the stress out of getting the treatment you deserve. Synergy eTherapists provide flexible, convenient, and easy to use mental health services.

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Our therapists help teens, college students, adults, couples, and people with health conditions and chronic pain during online therapy. Additionally, we can offer psychiatric medication management in certain states.

Learn more FAQs about our online therapy group practice as well as the cost of online therapy

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