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Cross-Addiction: Why One Addiction Leads to Another

Cross-addiction, also known as addiction transfer or addiction interaction disorder, refers to a situation when someone recovering from one addiction develops a new addiction to a new substance or behavior.

Female doctor comforting male patient. Graphic explains key challenges in treating cross-addiction.

Cross-addiction can be tricky and dangerous, with one addiction masking another. The good news is help is available. With proper addiction treatment and support, it’s possible to break free from this cycle of addiction.

Key Takeaways

Cross-addiction is pervasive in the United States, with many people dealing with this condition. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Cross-addiction refers to a pattern where an individual substitutes one addiction for another.
  • Cross-addiction stems from genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.
  • Diagnosis, lack of comprehensive treatment, risk of relapse, and stigma are key challenges in treating cross-addiction.
  • Integrated drug addiction treatment programs, CBT, support groups, and holistic and alternative therapy can effectively treat cross-addiction.

The Haven Detox-New England helps individuals dealing with cross-addiction to recover and lead healthier lives. Contact us today at (844) 933-4145!

Causes and Risk Factors of Cross Addiction

Cross-addiction occurs for various reasons, including genetic, environmental, emotional, and psychological factors.

Biology and Genetics

Biology and genetics are one of the most prominent causes of cross-addiction. Our genes can make us more likely to develop addictions. This is similar to how we can inherit our parents’ hair color or eye color.

If there is a history of addiction within the family, their members are more likely to struggle with it too. This doesn’t mean they will definitely develop an addiction, but they need to be more careful.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors are another cause of cross-addiction. The surroundings and situations we grow up and live in can make a difference. For example, if someone lives in a place where substance abuse is common, they might start using drugs or alcohol too.

Also, people who have faced stressful or traumatic situations, such as violence or neglect, are often more likely to turn to different types of addictive behaviors as a way to cope.

Emotional and Psychological Factors

Emotional and psychological factors are significant in cross-addiction. People with mental health issues like depression or anxiety disorder often struggle to deal with stress.

To ease their distress, they may turn to substances or addictive behaviors. Over time, this can become an addiction. The same can happen to people who have low self-esteem or deal with a lot of stress.

Common Examples of Cross-Addiction

Cross-addiction happens when a person shifts from one addiction to another. It is a complex issue and can appear in many forms, including substance cross-addiction and behavioral cross-addiction.

Let’s dive into some examples of the most common cross-addictions.

Substance Cross-Addiction

Substance cross-addiction occurs when a person becomes addicted to more than one substance. For instance, a person might be addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs. They may initially use prescription drugs to manage the side effects of alcohol withdrawal, but over time, they can develop a dependence on these drugs.

Another example is a person who uses cocaine and then starts using meth. Both of these drugs are stimulants, and the individual may use meth when cocaine is not available, leading to an addiction to both substances. It’s also common for people with opioid addiction to start abusing benzos, as both drugs can produce similar calming effects.

Behavioral Cross Addiction

Behavioral cross-addiction occurs when a person substitutes a substance addiction with compulsive behavior. An example is a person who has quit smoking only to find that they have developed a compulsive eating disorder. They have replaced the physical act of smoking with eating, which can lead to health problems like obesity.

Similarly, a person might recover from a gambling addiction only to become addicted to shopping. Here, the thrill of taking risks in gambling is replaced by the rush of buying new items.

Another example is when an individual replaces alcohol addiction with excessive exercise. While physical activity is generally healthy, it can become an addiction when it becomes compulsive and interferes with daily life.

Challenges Faced in Addressing Cross Addiction

Addressing cross-addiction presents several challenges. Overcoming these challenges can be tough, but it’s not impossible. Here are some of the key difficulties:

Identifying the Issue: One of the main challenges is simply recognizing cross-addiction. People might think they’ve overcome addiction because they’ve stopped using a particular substance, but they may not realize that a new behavior they’ve picked up is actually another addiction.

Underlying Causes: Cross-addiction often stems from unresolved issues like stress, trauma, or mental health problems. Addressing only the addiction without addressing these root causes may lead to a new addiction.

Avoiding Substitute Addictions: It can be challenging to avoid substituting one addiction with another, especially if the new behavior seems less harmful or more socially acceptable. For example, someone might replace alcohol with excessive exercise, thinking it’s healthier. However, suppose exercise becomes so frequent you lose contact with your friends or avoid responsibilities. In that case, you may have an addiction to it.

Lack of Comprehensive Treatment: Many addiction treatments focus on one specific addiction. This can be a challenge for someone with cross-addiction, as they need a more comprehensive approach that tackles both their substance and behavioral addictions.

Preventing Relapse: People dealing with cross-addiction are at a higher risk of relapse. They might return to their old addiction when trying to quit their new one or alternate between multiple addictions.

Stigma and Misunderstanding: Cross addiction is often misunderstood, leading to stigma. This can make it difficult for individuals to seek help and can create barriers to recovery.

Proven Treatment Approaches for Cross Addiction

There are several approaches to treating cross-addiction. Each of these treatment approaches has its strengths and can be beneficial in different situations. Here are some effective ones:

Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment: This treatment approach is helpful for people dealing with two or more addictions. It combines different therapies to address both addictions simultaneously. This is vital as treating one addiction can trigger the other if left unaddressed.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals understand and change behavior patterns. It can help people with cross-addiction identify triggers and develop healthier coping mechanisms, reducing the risk of moving from one addiction to another.

Mutual Support Groups: Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous provide a supportive environment for people dealing with addiction. Sharing experiences and learning from others can be extremely helpful in dealing with cross-addiction. These groups can provide ongoing support, which is crucial in preventing relapses.

Family Therapy: Addiction doesn’t just affect the individual; it also impacts their family members. Family therapy involves the person’s family in the recovery process. It can help mend damaged relationships and create a supportive home environment, which can play a crucial role in overcoming cross-addiction.

Holistic and Alternative Therapy: These therapies address the person as a whole – body, mind, and spirit. They may include yoga, meditation, art therapy, or acupuncture. They can help lessen stress, improve mental health, and promote overall well-being, reducing cross-addiction risk.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a cross-dependency?

The term “cross-dependency” refers to the situation when a person depends on more than one addictive substance simultaneously. For example, someone might be dependent on both alcohol and drugs. This cross-dependence can make it harder to recover, as quitting one substance might increase the use of the other.

What are the three types of addiction?

Addictions can be grouped into three main types:
Substance Use Disorder (SUD): This type involves the harmful use of substances like alcohol or drugs.
Behavioral Addiction: This type refers to addictions to certain harmful behaviors, such as gambling, overeating, unsafe sex, or excessive use of video games.
Dependency Addiction: Also known as cross dependency, this happens when a person is addicted to multiple substances at the same time.
Do addictions need to be replaced with something else?
When overcoming addiction, replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthier ones can be helpful. This doesn’t mean replacing one addiction with another but finding positive activities like exercise, art, or spending time with loved ones.
But remember, successful recovery often involves help from medical professionals and a personalized substance abuse treatment plan.

How do you prevent cross-addiction?

Here are some tips to prevent cross-addiction:
Thorough Treatment: Treat existing addictions and address underlying issues, like stress or trauma.
Healthy Coping Skills: Find healthier ways to handle stress, like exercise or hobbies.
Good Physical Health: Regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and enough sleep can reduce the risk of drug abuse.

Reclaim Your Life at The Haven Detox-New England

If you’re dealing with cross-addiction, remember, you’re not alone. It’s time to break free and start fresh at The Haven Detox-New England.

We provide top-notch medical detox to help you cleanse your body, and our residential treatment gives you 24/7 care in a secure environment.

Our therapies are backed by science and aim to treat your addiction’s root causes. Our dual diagnosis program can provide specialized care for patients with multiple conditions.

Don’t let another day slip by. Start your journey to recovery today. We trust in your strength to overcome addiction and create a life of greater well-being and joy. Contact us today at (844) 933-4145 for more information.