Types of Addiction​

Cross Addiction

Cross Addiction Treatment

Gatehouse understands your addiction and how it can affect every aspect of your life. You don’t have to fight this battle alone. There is hope. For individuals ready to overcome their addiction, we offer an approach based on proven methodologies to achieve lifelong results. If you need treatment for cross addiction, let us provide you with the tools, resources, and therapies needed to live a meaningful life. Reach out today and discover how Gatehouse can help with cross addiction.

What Do Cross Addiction and Cross Dependence Mean?

Cross addiction is just one of the many terms used to describe a standard behavior displayed by those suffering from addiction. Some other familiar terms used are cross dependence, addiction transmission, and addiction interaction disorder.

Cross addiction generally refers to the coexistence of two or more addictions. It may mean exchanging one addictive substance for another, for example, cocaine for alcohol – or it may mean returning to a primary drug (“drug of choice”) while also using a new addictive substance. Addiction to one substance puts you at greater risk of addiction to another, especially if the new substance is similar to the primary drug. It’s as if your brain is familiar with addictive behavior and seeks it out if it is missing.

Cross Addiction vs Dual Diagnosis?

Cross addiction may be confused with dual diagnosis, the latter of which refers to addiction with associated mental health issues such as depression. Many health insurance plans provide coverage for both types of illnesses. Reliable drug and alcohol treatment facilities like GateHouse Treatment can verify your benefits before admission.

History of Cross Addiction

Substituting one drug for another is a health problem that has been going on for centuries. Late in the 1800s, morphine was prescribed commonly as a substitute for alcohol addiction, and the practice continued until late in the 1930s.

Over the years, women have become the prevalent class of opiate users. Prescription and patent medicines containing the substances were advertised and accepted without question. Morphine was also a convenient, gentile drug for a dependent lady who would avoid drinking in public. The extent to which alcohol drinking by women was frowned upon may also (in addition to opiate medicines) have contributed to the excess of women among opiate users.

Physiology & Side Effects of Cross Addiction

All substances affect the human body differently and have varying side effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drugs affect the brain in the following manner:

“Most drugs affect the brain’s ‘reward circuit,’ causing euphoria as well as flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. A properly functioning reward system motivates a person to repeat behaviors needed to thrive, such as eating and spending time with loved ones. Surges of dopamine in the reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs, leading people to repeat the behavior again and again.”

As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it; this reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drug—an effect known as tolerance. They might take more of the drug to try and achieve the same high. These brain adaptations often lead to the person becoming less and less able to derive pleasure from things they once enjoyed, like food, sex, or social activities.

Further, long-term drug use causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits, affecting functions that include:

  • learning
  • judgment
  • decision-making
  • stress
  • memory
  • behavior

Despite being aware of these harmful outcomes, many people who use drugs continue to take them, which is the nature of addiction.

Understanding Cross Addiction

The best way to understand cross addiction is to analyze the nature of addiction overall. People with an addiction history will always be at greater risk of developing dependence on another substance. Someone can recover from drug addiction, such as opioid addiction, and may even be clean for many years but later develop an alcohol addiction or exhibit behavior that can become compulsive—this may inevitably lead to them abusing the initial substance once again.

Cross addiction can also arise when an individual receives a substance to treat another. For example, when someone recovering from heroin addiction takes another drug, such as methadone, there is an increased likelihood of developing a dependence on both or relapsing into the original drug. Cross addiction and cross dependence are widespread in people with substance use disorders and often go unrecognized as a trigger to relapse.

Cross Addiction Treatment

GateHouse Treatment has multiple programs for almost any type of addiction and a long history of helping people recover. We can customize your substance abuse treatment with options like:

Each program involves varying levels of individual therapy, group therapy, family sessions, medication management, and more. For more information regarding our programs, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

Cross Addiction Quick Facts

  • Almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment
  • Connecticut, in 1874, became the first state to have a law whereby the “narcotic addict” was declared incompetent to attend to his personal affairs. The law required that he be committed to a state insane asylum for “medical care and treatment” until he was “cured” of his “addiction” (Levine, 1974).

Signs of Cross Addiction

Many of the signs and symptoms displayed in a person suffering from Cross Addiction are like the substance use disorder signs and symptoms. Some common signs include:


Anxiety, mood swings, agitation, mania, restlessness, depression, rage


Stealing, confusion, memory problems, disorientation, forging prescriptions, changes in appetite, violence, decreased inhibitions, slurred speech, risky behaviors


Dry mouth, coordination problems, constipation/diarrhea, fluctuations in weight, sweating, stuffy nose, drowsiness, swelling in hands and feet, tremors, seizures, hallucinations

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