We’ve all heard the saying ‘having an addictive personality.’ For someone who is dealing with an actual substance use disorder, this can indicate that their behavioral inclinations tend to draw them toward repetitive and addictive impulses. Meaning, they go from one addiction to the next much easier than the average person. This can increase the likelihood that they will exchange an addiction to one substance to an addiction to another.

When an individual presents addictive patterns like this, they may not simply be struggling with a textbook substance use disorder; they may actually be facing a cross addiction and breaking free from its grip can prove to be a difficult task.

What is Cross Addiction?

The concept of cross addiction implies that a person who has struggled with a specific substance addiction is naturally inclined, or at a higher risk, of developing an addiction to another substance or behavior. This concept of moving from one addiction to another is fairly common for anyone who has struggled with addiction in the past.

Why? The transition to another substance enables them to more easily justify their relapse and perpetuate negative behaviors. This is because it is a new substance that they are dealing with, so their feelings of guilt tend to be less severe.

Regardless, the dangers of moving from one addiction to the next comes with its own dangers and can prove even harder to overcome in the long run.

Examples of Cross Addiction

A majority of people struggling with a substance use disorder develop physical and neurological attachments to their substance of choice due to the effects that their addictive behaviors have on their physical wellbeing.

That is why cross addiction tends to develop easier within a person who has already dealt with a specific addiction; it enables them to still get the same dopamine rush, which is what they are truly chasing.

Some common examples of cross addiction can include:

  • An individual who was previously addicted to alcohol but trades that substance in for prescription pills. The similar neurological effects of painkillers provide that person with a similar high and allows them to continue chasing the same feelings without having to admit they are experiencing a significant relapse.
  • A person who has struggled with cocaine addiction may find themselves drawn toward alternative substances that can provide the same energetic spike and mood boost. Choosing to take prescription meds that provide a similar feeling, or, worse yet, harder drugs like methamphetamine, gives a person the high they are searching for while driving them deeper and deeper into their addiction.
  • A person may trade a substance addiction for something that provides a similar dopamine rush from a specific behavior, including gambling or even sex. This type of cross addiction can prove even harder to break because the person sees their addictive exchange as potentially beneficial, since they are no longer putting toxic substances into their body. However, the psychological and social damage that can occur with this type of cross addiction can lead to even more severe consequences if the behaviors are not addressed appropriately.

Cross Addiction and Cross Dependence

While cross addiction involves a person exchanging one substance of choice for another, cross dependence is an entirely different beast. It involves the physical dependence to multiple drugs at the same time and can be brought on by a person trying to alleviate the symptoms of one substance by taking another.

For example, this type of addiction can occur when a person who is addicted to a substance like crack cocaine switches to heroin to counteract the effects of the crack they’ve ingested to meet social obligations or daily responsibilities.

It is definitely a dangerous balancing act, but one that someone who experiences cross dependence has learned to routinely navigate.

Would You Benefit from Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Every person who struggles with a substance use disorder is an individual with specific needs that must be addressed to overcome their addictive impulses and achieve long-term sobriety. Making the decision to choose a treatment facility that specializes in dual diagnosis treatment is beneficial on multiple levels for anyone dealing with the impact of cross addiction or cross dependence.

Dual diagnosis treatment provides a person with the necessary clinical insight and guidance to safely detox off of whatever substances they are dependent on. This form of treatment also addresses the physical and mental health issues associated with their substance use disorder.

While every individual will experience addiction in their own way, it’s beneficial to start your rehab in a treatment facility that specializes in both chemical dependency and mental illness. This is an excellent way to ensure you achieve the greatest amount of support and knowledge from the very beginning of your recovery journey.

Renowned, Holistic Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

Your new life starts the moment you declare you have complete control over your actions, health and future. At Ranch Creek Recovery, we provide holistic detox and alcohol recovery treatment that offers personalized and long-lasting care.

Learn more about our life-changing, holistic treatment programs or contact us today to start your
journey toward detox and recovery.