Most people often confuse dual diagnosis and cross addiction, yet these two are different terms. Dual diagnosis involves a substance addiction and a mental health disorder. Cross addiction is whereby a person has developed an addiction to two substances. For instance, one may start abusing painkillers while recovering from heroin, or a person abusing cocaine may start using another stimulant. It is common for an individual to abuse a substance containing similar effects to what they abused before.
Is Cross Addiction Common?
Experts are yet to come up with specific statistics on cross addiction. However, according to the various cases admitted in emergency departments, most individuals were under the influence of various substances. Often, people use multiple substances to either counteract the harmful effects or enhance the effects of one substance. When this behavior of using multiple substances continues, it leads to cross addiction.
Addiction is common in the US. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that over 21.5 million Americans have struggled with substance use disorder. Some of these individuals struggled with both alcohol and drugs. That is why cross pollination is not exactly a new concept. Also, it is more common among people who are new to recovering. This is because, during this time, most are vulnerable, and they are likely to turn to substance abuse.
What Causes Cross Addiction
There are many things that can trigger a cross addiction like a lost job, the death of a friend, or any other traumatic experience. In other cases, if one has a dual diagnosis, but only the substance-use disorder was addressed, they are likely to develop a cross addiction. That is because they are still dealing with underlying mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, or OCD. While a person is careful not to relapse, they assume that trying a new substance will not be dangerous and will help them cope.
Preventing Cross Addiction
Fortunately, cross addiction can be prevented. If you have had an addiction problem, then you need to be cautious with prescription drugs. Drugs such as narcotic painkillers, stimulants, and benzodiazepines can lead to drug abuse. When you visit a doctor, inform them that you are in recovery. That way, they can offer you an alternative prescription if available. Also, if you have a history of substance abuse, try and avoid any mood-altering drugs. It is better to inquire about the properties of a drug from a pharmacist so that you know what you are taking.
If you are dealing with cross addiction, here are some steps you can take to get help.
- Admit there is a problem: Most people who have dealt with addiction and recovery know that it is challenging. Therefore, admitting that you are back in step one can feel scary. However, once you admit that there is a problem, then getting treatment is easy. You can also go to a recovery center if the issue has escalated. Part of your treatment plan will be detoxification to get the substance out of your body. View more on the detoxification process and how to cope.
- Learn healthy coping skills: The same coping tools you used to deal with the first addiction can be used here. It can be support groups, exercise, volunteering, and therapy.
- Avoid places and circumstances that lead to making poor choices.
Treatment for cross addictions needs to include both detoxification and therapy. It is also important that the staff members at the recovery center identify the reason behind the substance abuse and address it. Otherwise, if the root of the problem is not addressed, then there is a high risk of cross addiction cropping up again in the future.