Cross-Addiction and Recovery People recovering from addiction to drugs or alcohol don’t always consider their problem to extend beyond their drug of choice; but this is not necessarily true. If a person has addiction issues with one particular substance, it is appropriate to consider this person will likely have problems with all classes of addictive substances.

Many relapses occur when recovering individuals feel that their addiction is under control. Or, the person may recognize that their previous drug of choice is obviously not an option, but feel that experimentation with other substances is okay. Relapses under these circumstances may be unfortunate, but the person is rarely surprised of the outcome following this behaviour.

Whenever you engage in something pleasurable, whether it is eating chocolate or snorting cocaine, your brain releases the “feel good” chemical dopamine. When you have an addiction, your brain need this feeling, and this need is what triggers the cravings. When you are in recovery, even though the original substance is no longer in your body; your brain continues to desire that feeling. In other words it is looking for a new high.

If you’ve developed a cross addiction, you may need to continue treatment for your original addiction as well as treatment for the new substance or activity. You may also benefit from developing stress reduction. Learning how to effectively cope with stressful situations can reduce the anxiety that all too often leads to relapse.

Recovery is a lifelong process. Developing a cross addiction is one of those challenges you may be faced with on your sobriety journey. Even if you’ve been successfully abstinent from an original addiction, such as alcoholism or gambling, you can easily fall into another. However, by being aware of the dangers, you can reduce your risk of developing another addiction and increase the chance of living a life full of hope.

Johnina Noir
CD Counselor
AToN Center 888-535-1516

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