Although it’s widely acknowledged in clinical circles as a substance abuse treatment, the concept of cross addiction hasn’t been in the public eye for very long. People understand dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders, but cross addiction and cross dependence are slightly different.

If you’re suffering from cross addictions, you replace one compulsive behavior (drug addiction, alcohol abuse, addictive behaviors, etc) with another. This can be hugely frustrating as you can complete a treatment program but quickly relapse one way or the other.

If you or a loved one thinks common cross addictions need treatment — Contact Alta Loma today at 866-457-3843

What Is Cross Addiction?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that anyone in recovery is in danger of developing substitute addictions to another substance after overcoming a SUD (Substance Use Disorder). As such, if you’ve been through the recovery process, it’s important that you understand the risks of transferring one addiction to another.  

For instance, if you’ve been through rehab because of alcohol and drug addiction, you must let your doctor know if you require pain control, or require ADHD medications. Narcotic pain relief medications for chronic pain could put you at severe risk of cross addiction. And even though we want you to address a mental health disorder, the brain chemical responsible for addictions can create compulsive behaviors leading to furthering addiction treatment.  Another example would be to avoid drinking alcohol if you’re in recovery from a benzodiazepine use disorder. The two substances have a similar effect on your central nervous system, so the chances of cross dependence are high.

Difficulty processing emotions and unresolved past trauma can make you even more susceptible to cross addiction and lead to greater substance abuse. You might have become highly adept at masking specific symptoms, which can prevent doctors from picking up on underlying mental health issues. This isn’t your fault or something to feel guilty about, but you’ll need to work hard to address the negative consequences when cross addiction can occur.

Addiction transfer, or a substitute addiction, is usually present because the individual has such a hard time coping with their feelings that they need to find a new distraction. People who are prone to compulsive behavior are significantly more likely to develop cross addiction.

What Is Cross Dependence?

Cross dependence is a milder version of cross addiction that tends to occur when a person is young or before addiction entirely takes hold. The mind and body become dependent on the reward response feeling you get from illicit drugs, prescription drugs or compulsive behaviors. However, instead of relapsing when faced with triggers or setbacks, you get used to turning elsewhere for comfort.  One addiction from x turns into behaving in y fashion.

This pattern often begins during the teenage years when an authority figure catches you out for one substance or behavior and you replace it with another. It’s a challenging pattern to break because empirical evidence shows it tends to affect people who are intelligent and self-aware. These sorts of people are often the hardest to treat because they’re so good at convincing themselves and their caregivers that they’re fine, even though they suffer from multiple addictions.

Techniques to Help You Overcome Cross Addiction

When you’re trying to break the cycle of cross addiction, the key is to change your lifestyle so it’s in line with your future goals. Consider what you imagine your future looking like, and think about the type of person you need to be to achieve this. The harder you work at becoming that person, the happier you’ll be and the easier it becomes to resist temptation.

Implement these techniques as part of your strategy to make the lifestyle changes necessary to feel happier. Cross addiction represents a method you’ve found to cope with challenging feelings — but you’re strong enough to find means of self-soothing that serve you.

Here are 8 techniques that could assist with your cross addiction.  Remember, if these techniques do not work, Alta Loma offers treatment options and specialized programs tailored to you and your addiction.

1. Write a Journal

People get the wrong impression about journals. It doesn’t have to be anything artistic or fancy, just a quick record of your feelings and a note about what happened in the day. Go into more detail if you have a particularly good or bad day, and take note of aspects of your life you’re grateful for.

Over time, you’ll notice patterns when you look back over your writing. For example, you might see that if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more prone to anxiety, or you feed your alcohol addiction.  Another familiar pattern people notice is a strong correlation between neglecting self-care and feeling low.

You’re more likely to use drugs or alcohol or turn to addictive behavior when you feel low. So understanding what lifts your mood is crucial to breaking the negative consequences or the cross addiction cycle.

2. Be Honest — Especially When It’s Hardest

It’s so important that you try to notice when shame or fear gets in the way of telling the truth. It’s natural to want to hide thoughts and feelings that you feel ashamed of, but it’s unhealthy.  The more you can open up and be honest about how you feel, the better your caregivers can help. It’s also true that negative emotions seem much more prominent and scarier when they only exist in your head — it’s better to express yourself.

3. Find Comfort in Movement

One of the most crucial aspects of a healthy lifestyle is movement. You don’t have to take up running or a team sport — although you can if you like. Dancing to your favorite songs on YouTube, yoga classes and martial arts are fun, alternative ways to exercise. 

4. Seek an Expert Therapist and Think Long Term

Working through trauma, past experiences and triggers alone is almost impossible. Therapists undergo years of training to learn how to identify certain traits that lead to cross addiction and mental illness. Seeking medical guidance for a year or more is usually the best course of action for someone who is stuck in a cross addiction cycle.

5. Assess Your Diet

When it comes to the body, diet is arguably even more important than exercise. The food we eat affects the balance of our hormones and blood sugar, so eating a low-nutrient diet that’s high in processed food makes recovery much harder.

Meat, eggs, fish, cheese, vegetables and whole-grain pasta, rice and bread are delicious. Try switching to a healthy diet for just two weeks and note any differences in how you feel.  

6. Be Kind to Yourself

The cycle of cross addiction is usually exacerbated by shame and low self-esteem and poor mental health. Sometimes we tell ourselves negative stories about ourselves without even realizing it. The more we believe these stories, the more inclined to substance abuse we are. Try to make an effort to be as kind about yourself in your thoughts as you would be to the people you love most in the world.

7. Try Meet-Ups With New People

If your old friendship group mainly consisted of people whose friendship with you revolved around getting high or drunk, you might consider finding a new friendship group. There’s no need to feel any guilt for this — the people we surround ourselves with have a massive impact on us.

Use meet-up groups to find people who share similar interests. Whether you’re into drawing, singing, coding or gaming, you can find a group to go on fun days out and take part in activities together.

8. Focus on a Consistent Sleep Routine

For some reason, we pay close attention to children and teenagers getting enough sleep — but many adults are guilty of an inconsistent routine. The body is more sensitive to this than we realize. If you go to bed and wake up at the same time consistently, you’ll notice a significant change in your mental well-being.

Get Help With Cross Addiction Today

The best way to take risk away is to stop using drugs and alcohol. To get help, it means seeking treatment at inpatient or outpatient programs and finding help for mental health conditions. Cross Addiction diagnosis can support mental health and physical addiction symptoms. With help for pain, trauma, and abuse in the past, the layers can fall away so people can find the right support in treatment that makes recovery stick. It means making the choice to help someone or get help for oneself.

You cannot get individual treatment just anywhere. We provide specialized treatment for your mental health and physical addiction needs. Our compassionate care team and supportive staff provide tools and resources for your journey of healing to recovery. Call us to find out how we can help: 866-457-3843.


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Healing on Your Terms

You understand your needs best. If you have found yourself at a crossroads in your treatment and feel like your program options don’t fully understand you or aspects of your recovery, it’s time to contact the specialists at Alta Loma. We will help you craft the ideal care plan and secure the support you need, quickly, to avoid unnecessary problems. At Alta Loma, that’s our mission — to provide each individual with optimum care for the wellbeing they deserve.