If you’re suffering with a drug or alcohol addiction, you may find that your addictive behaviours cross over into other areas of your life. This is called cross addiction. Commonly confused with dual diagnosis, cross addiction is diagnosed when someone has two or more addictions. In this blog, we explore the term in more detail and highlight who could be more at risk of it.

What does cross addiction mean?

As we’ve mentioned above, cross addiction is when someone has two or more addictions. This could include addictions to drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gaming or gambling. The addictions don’t need to happen at the same time though. For example, if you’ve been in recovery for one addiction for many years and then become addicted to something else, this will still be classified as cross addiction.

How does cross addiction happen?

Anyone can develop a cross addiction, older people or young people. However, many experts believe that cross addiction occurs more commonly when someone is already addicted to or has had an addiction previously, to things like alcohol and other drugs. This is because the individual will already have addictive personality traits and behaviours and may look for something else to fill the void left. The scientific explanation for addiction is that compulsive and addictive behaviours can trigger the dopamine hormone in the brain.

While there isn’t a set reason as to why people develop addictions or cross addictions, usually it comes down to a lack of awareness or understanding. For example, being unaware of how addictive certain painkillers can be. Unresolved mental health issues also have a huge part to play in the body and mind’s ability to deal with addictive and compulsive behaviours.

How do you treat cross addiction?

As with one addiction, cross addiction can be treated at a rehab centre – either as an inpatient or outpatient. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, we can help you to find the right rehab centre in the UK.

Once there, you’ll be diagnosed by a team of medical professionals who will get to know you, your addiction, its triggers and your emotional and physical state and dependencies. By combining treatment types and therapy options, with wellbeing activities like yoga and meditation, you’ll get to know your addiction in full and learn to create new and healthier coping skills.

You may also be required to complete a drug or alcohol detox which is the process of the substance leaving your body. However, with a team by your side every step of the way, you’ll be prescribed medication to help with any side effects and withdrawal symptoms. This is one of the biggest benefits of completing an inpatient rehab program.

If you’re wondering ‘how common is cross addiction’, then unfortunately it can be common for those who have suffered from an addiction to one substance before. This is why a team of health care professionals will continue to support you even after your rehabilitation has come to an end. With the help of a personalised aftercare plan and relapse prevention advice, you’re more likely to be on the path to long-term recovery however.

There are also external care and support services for addiction recovery such as Alcoholics Anonymous. These support groups as well as family support in real life can help an individual to deal with re-occurring disorders.

How to avoid cross addiction

One of the best ways to prevent cross addiction from happening is by educating yourself on the dangers. If you already have an addiction or have suffered in the past, it’s important to take extra precautions too as you may be more vulnerable to developing another addiction. What’s more, those in early recovery are also more susceptible to other addictions. Knowing that you could be more at risk and ensuring that you’re not exposed to certain substances can help.

Perhaps you might choose to avoid certain medications or ask family and friends to be in control of the dosage. Or maybe you could try to use exercise as a way of coping with stressful situations or a bad day. Above all, talking to people about your previous addiction and highlighting your concerns about developing a new addiction can also help. Not only will it make you feel less alone but it’ll also provide you with a support network that is crucial to your long-term recovery.

Cross addiction and dual diagnosis

Some people confuse cross addiction and dual diagnosis but they are completely different things. While cross addiction is when someone suffers from two or more addictions, dual diagnosis is when someone has two psychological disorders such as anxiety and a drug addiction. Put simply, someone could be affected by cross addiction and dual diagnosis.

Ultimately, both parts of the cross addiction and the dual diagnosis have to be treated in order for the conditions to be resolved. You will also need to stop using the substance in question. Treatment types and therapies may vary but can include creative therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, talking sessions and also emotional support groups.

Getting help for cross addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering with alcohol or drug addiction or has addictive behaviours, why not get in touch with our friendly team today? Not only can we answer any questions about substance use disorders and recommend support groups in the local area but we can also help you to find the right rehab centre and addiction treatment options.

So, whether you’re ready to step away from your substance abuse or have a question about treatment and recovery services available to you, Addiction Advocates could be the lifeline you need.