Types of Addiction​

Cross Drug Addiction

Cross Drug 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 who are ready to overcome their addiction, we offer a personal approach to treatment that is based on proven methodologies. We give you the tools needed to build a strong recovery by promoting personal responsibility and accountability. End the insanity of doing the same thing over and over, reach out today, and find out how Gatehouse can help you live a life worth living.

What is Cross Drug Addiction?

Cross drug addiction is just one of the many terms used to describe a common behavior displayed by those suffering from addiction. Some other familiar terms used are addiction transmission or addiction interaction disorder.

Addiction to one substance puts you at greater risk of developing an addiction to another substance. This is called cross addiction. Broadly defined, cross addiction is two or more addictions. It may mean that you exchange one addictive substance for another, for example, cocaine for alcohol. Or it may mean that you return to your primary drug (“drug of choice”) while also using a new addictive substance. Your risk of developing cross addiction is very high, especially if the new substance is similar to your primary drug. It’s as if your brain is familiar with addictive behavior and seeks it out if it is missing.

Cross Drug Addiction vs Dual Diagnosis?

Cross drug addiction is not to be confused with dual diagnosis, which is a combination of addiction with mental health issues such as depression. Many health insurance plans provide coverage for both types of illnesses. Good drug and alcohol treatment facilities (like GateHouse, of course) can verify your benefits before admission.

History of Cross Drug 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”; the practice continued until late in the 1930s.

Women had become the prevalent class of opiate users. Prescription and patent medicines containing the substances were advertised and accepted without question. Also, this was a convenient, gentile drug for a dependent lady who would never be seen 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 Drug Addiction

Different chemicals will affect the human body in different ways. Side effects will also depend on which chemical is being used.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this is an explanation on how drugs affect the brain:

“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 other things they once enjoyed, like food, sex, or social activities.

Long-term use also causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well, 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

A patient, we’ll call him John, sought help for his use of prescription painkillers. After completing drug rehab, John returned home and back to the daily stressors of life. John started feeling overwhelmed in his home and work life. He started drinking a couple of beers every evening after work just to relax. Then John started drinking a six-pack of beer after work. Eventually, John felt like the alcohol abuse was causing him to sleep late and feel sluggish at work. John sought out his original drug of choice, cocaine, to compensate for the depressant effects of the alcohol. Unfortunately, John’s original substance addiction resumed, and the vicious cycle started again.

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. People with an addiction history are at greater risk to develop cross dependence.

An alcoholic who starts drinking alcoholic cough syrup can become addicted to cough syrup. When someone recovers from heroin addiction and is given a certain painkiller such as Oxycontin, this can lead to a relapse into the original drug of choice. Cross-drug addiction or cross-drug use disorder is widespread in people with substance use disorders. Cross addiction is a sometimes-forgotten roadblock in the recovery process, as it is not often recognized as a trigger to relapse in and of itself.

Cross Drug Addiction Treatment

GateHouse has multiple treatment programs for almost any type of addiction and a long history of helping people with recovery. 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.

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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 Heroin Abuse

Many of the signs and symptoms displayed in a person suffering from Cross Drug 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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