What is “cross addiction?” Cross addiction is a term many people encounter while in treatment, supporting someone in recovery, or among sober communities. Interestingly though, this term means something different depending on who you ask. While cross addiction is not a medical term, it’s a phrase many addiction specialists and those receiving treatment in a clinical setting employ and understand.
Cross addiction can be hazardous, and it is essential to get help if you are struggling with it. This blog post will explore the definition of cross addiction and answer some of the most pressing questions many have. Additionally, it will discuss who is most vulnerable to cross addiction, how to avoid it, and how to get treatment if you are affected. It’s important to remember no matter how addiction has touched you, there is a way out of the cycle of chaos.
GateHouse Treatment Center understands that experiencing multiple addictions can be derailing for everyone involved. Professional support can make all the difference depending on the addiction you or your loved one is experiencing. Continue reading for more information about cross addiction, GateHouse, and how our addiction experts can help you through this challenging recovery chapter.
What is Cross Addiction?
The most established definition of cross addiction also referred to as addiction transfer, is when an individual has multiple addictions. These addictions can umbrella compulsive behaviors like gambling, impulsive shopping, risky sex, and rigid eating behaviors, in addition to the traditional substance abuse most associated with addiction.
Cross addictions do not necessarily have to be active at the same time. For example, an individual experiencing addiction transfer may be sober from heroin for years and develop a cross addiction to severe eating disorder behavior. In this case, the eating disorder acts as an additional addiction, even though the individual is “sober” or in “recovery.”
Another example of addiction transfer could be abstaining from one substance, like alcohol, but beginning to depend on another. An example of this may be from compulsively using marijuana to abusing benzodiazepines. Ultimately, engaging in ritual behavior that triggers the reward centers in the brain, and continuing to do it, even though it causes detrimental effects, is addiction. Addiction happens even if the substance, behavior, or circumstances have changed.
What Populations Are Most Vulnerable?
Cross addiction doesn’t discriminate based on age, race, or gender and can happen to anyone. However, some groups are more vulnerable than others. For example, people with dual diagnoses are more likely to experience addiction transfer. Additionally, individuals with a history of addictive behaviors may be especially vulnerable to developing addiction transfer.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Cross Addiction?
Cross addiction is a severe problem that can cause serious consequences for those struggling. Common signs and symptoms of addiction transfer include:
- Increased tolerance to the substance they are currently using.
- They begin requiring larger doses to achieve the desired effect or, in some cases, stay “well.”
- Loss of interest in preferred activities and hobbies.
- An increased focus on drug-seeking behavior.
- Deterioration of relationships and social withdrawal.
- Increased problems at school or work due to substance use.
- Increase in risky and impulsive behavior.
- A growing obsession with the drug/behavior.
- An inability to control intake or behavior even when the consequences become severe.
Addiction transfer is a real problem that can have serious consequences. Awareness of the signs, risk factors, and symptoms of cross addiction is essential. If you or someone close is struggling with addiction transfer, it’s vital to get help from a professional as soon as possible.
What Is the Difference Between Cross Addiction and Dual Diagnosis?
Cross addiction and dual diagnosis are terms often used interchangeably. However, they refer to entirely different concepts within the realm of addiction. As mentioned, cross addiction occurs when someone already addicted to one substance develops a new addiction, usually to another substance or behavior. Additionally, cross addiction implies that an individual experiencing or having experienced substance use disorder is at an increased risk for developing another addiction.
In contrast, dual diagnosis refers to an individual suffering from addiction and a related mental health disorder. This disorder may be a condition like depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia, to name a few possibilities.
In other words, cross addiction involves the introduction of a new substance or behavior into an addict’s life. However, it does not imply the presence of any mental health issues. However, dual diagnosis indicates the presence of addiction and mental health challenges.
Both cross addiction and dual diagnosis can have devastating physical, emotional, and psychological repercussions that a medical professional should address.
What Are the Dangers of Cross Addiction?
People with cross addiction struggle to control their addictive behavior, making them susceptible to various health problems and dangerous situations. Not only are they at risk of physical and psychological harm, but they are also more likely to be affected by other challenges that may lead them to:
- engage in criminal activity
- develop unstable relationships
- experience financial difficulties
- experience homelessness
How Can I Support Someone Experiencing Cross Addiction?
If you or someone you know is struggling with cross addiction, the first step is admitting there is a problem that requires help. Depending on the severity of the addiction, it may be imperative to reach out to a mental health professional or specialist. They will be able to assess your situation and provide guidance on your best course of action.
It is also vital the person experiencing transfer addiction have a robust support system during recovery. Individuals must surround themselves with people they can trust and rely on while focusing on sobriety. This support network will be significant when they experience the urge to relapse.
Additionally, find or be a positive role model or mentor who can provide guidance. If that’s difficult, consider recommending sponsorship to your loved one through a recovery program. Another great way to show your support is by encouraging them to care for their physical and mental health.
While supporting a loved one struggling with cross addiction can be a complicated endeavor, it is rewarding. The most crucial thing to do is show the addicted loved one compassion and empathy while setting boundaries. Additionally, it is vital to maintain healthy communication.
What Steps Can I Take to Address My Loved One’s Cross Addiction?
First, create a safe, non-judgmental space to address your loved one’s addictions. Ensure they can express themselves without fear of being criticized or judged. Do your best to actively listen to their concerns and experiences, even if you disagree. Try to learn more about cross addiction from them and other reliable resources.
Maintaining healthy communication with your loved one when discussing their cross addiction is vital. Healthy interactions include being honest and open about your feelings while maintaining respectfulness. Communication allows one to express concerns and discuss options that can yield results.
Remember that you are never alone, no matter how tough it may be. Millions across the globe have beaten and continue to overcome addiction every day. Even in the bleakest conditions and circumstances, recovery is possible!
Is It Possible to Prevent Relapsing into A Cross Addiction?
Relapse prevention is one of the most critical aspects of recovering from cross addiction. Relapses can be dangerous and discouraging and, in some cases, send someone back to a place where they are struggling with addiction. However, it is vital also to recognize that for many, relapses can be an aspect of their road to recovery.
While there is no guaranteed method to prevent relapse, there are steps that people in recovery from cross addiction can take to reduce their risk. These include attending support groups, practicing mindfulness and self-care, participating in healthy activities, and engaging in therapy sessions with a mental health counselor, licensed therapist, or addiction specialist. These steps can help individuals stay on the path to recovery from cross-addiction and have a better chance of lasting success.
What Unique Challenges Do Cross Addicts Experience?
People recovering from cross addiction face many unique challenges. One of the biggest challenges is the stigma associated with addiction. Individuals struggling with cross addiction can feel isolated, embarrassed, and judged. Negative emotions may be especially apparent if the individual recovers before using again. These complex emotions make it hard to be open about their struggles and get the help they need.
What is the Treatment for Cross Addiction?
Treatment for cross addiction typically involves detoxification, therapeutic counseling, and medication management. Others attend residential stays at treatment facilities to recover. With the right help and dedication, you can find lasting recovery from cross-addiction
GateHouse Treatment Centers and Cross Addiction
At GateHouse Treatment Center, we understand that cross addiction happens and affects many. We recognize the complexities of addictive behaviors and the unique ways they affect every person touched. We have helped many recover from addiction and rebuild their lives without cross addicting.
For more information about our treatment services, contact us to speak to a specialist.
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