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What Is Cross Addiction?

When a young person chooses to get treatment for an addiction, it’s easy to believe that once they move past it, they have put addiction in their rearview mirror. For many of them, cross addiction becomes part of their lives, compromising all the hard work they have accomplished. If you or a young adult you care about has moved from one addiction to another, let us help you understand what’s going on and how to get help for cross addictions.

What is Cross Addiction?

Cross addiction is a situation in which a person who has struggled with one addiction falls prey to another. For example, someone who overcame an addiction to alcohol might start abusing a drug such as cocaine or heroin. Cross addiction can also mean going from abusing a substance to becoming addicted to an activity like gambling or shopping. 

At the heart of addiction is the fact that substances a person abuses directly impact their brain chemistry. Naturally occurring chemicals like dopamine come from the reward center of the brain, creating a sense of happiness, satisfaction, and euphoria. When a person develops an addiction to drugs or alcohol, this interrupts the brain’s ability to produce these chemicals. The individual begins to rely on using drugs or alcohol in order to produce them. 

Going through the detoxification process and subsequent treatment helps repair the damage to the brain’s functioning. They begin to produce pleasurable chemicals naturally again. For others, the rewiring of their brains that took place during addiction remains problematic. Even when they act with vigilance to stay sober, they risk developing a craving for other addictive substances or actions. For this reason, even a person in recovery needs to remain aware of any tendencies to develop cross addiction.

Common Cross Addictions

A person can move from one addiction to any number of other ones. Sometimes a person feels that although they became addicted to one substance, they can safely indulge in using another one. They end up becoming addicted all over again. Different substances don’t make up the only risk category; many people develop an addiction to behaviors and pastimes. 

The most common cross addictions include:

  • Alcohol
  • Illegal drugs
  • Prescription drugs
  • Binge eating or other eating disordered behavior
  • Exercising
  • Gambling
  • Shopping
  • Computer/Internet
  • Video gaming
  • Sexual behaviors
  • Working too much

Further Understanding Cross Addictions to Prevent Relapse

Cross addiction may develop when a person is undergoing a stressful time or challenging emotional issues. What might feel like just enjoying a new hobby like video gaming or temporarily experimenting with drinking binges can actually be a new addiction taking root. Learning to recognize risky behaviors before they become problematic can prevent a full-blown relapse.

Treatment professionals can help people at risk of cross addiction learn to explore possible triggers and help them develop or even relearn healthy coping skills that might have gotten rusty. It’s beneficial for a person who feels an urge to engage in a potentially addictive new behavior to ask themselves some hard questions, such as:

  • Am I avoiding an activity or emotion by doing this?
  • Am I using a new substance for the same negative reasons I used a past one?
  • Is what I’m doing causing problems with work or school?
  • Am I neglecting my relationships and responsibilities?
  • Am I putting the recovery I fought so hard for at risk?
  • Do I have a recovery-related resource I can use to get support?

Treating Cross Addiction

When a person develops a cross addiction, they need to take it as seriously as they did when seeking help for their initial addiction. Getting into treatment as soon as they become aware of the situation helps them stem further damage. They may find there is still work to be done in order to address an underlying tendency to use compulsive behaviors. 

Cross addiction can be treated through residential or outpatient programs. Many people enjoy the benefits of spending time in a sober living home while they work on putting addiction behind them once and for all. Therapy can help the individual learn to understand potentially dangerous situations or emotions that indicate they are at risk of giving into addictive behaviors. 

Holistic treatment offers several ways to improve a person’s physical, emotional, and spiritual health, all of which form an essential barrier to help prevent relapse. Aftercare programs can also provide a way to keep a person in check. Knowing they have the support of an alumni program or support groups gives them a place to turn for advice when their recovery may seem at risk. 

Cross Addiction Treatment in Los Angeles, CA

Conquering an addiction is a powerful move in the life of a young person. Sadly, some of them move on to develop an addiction to another substance or behavioral pattern. Riviera Recovery in Los Angeles, CA, understands how cross addiction can cause a young person’s life to linger in a constant state of spiraling out of control. We provide a safe place to live while seeking treatment for this condition. If you or someone you love needs help breaking free from their cross addiction, call or visit our admissions page today. 

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