Cross addiction refers to switching from one addiction to another. This mostly happens during recovery when a person is thrilled by the idea of quitting a dangerous addiction and trying something minor, without realizing that this could lead to a relapse. For example, a cocaine-snorting teen might start smoking nicotine or taking marijuana.
The addiction-forming substances have a capability of causing dopamine release, which elicits a reward in response, causing immense euphoria and a feeling of high in people who then continue using the substance to keep getting that high. When people quit the substance, their brain stops producing dopamine and hence people stop feeling euphoric. At this stage, they are lured by other substances, which mimic the pleasure associated with the original substance of abuse.
Sometimes, indulging in impulsive acts such as gambling, sex, watching pornography and binge eating might also produce a dopamine-like effect. A person might develop cross-addiction to these behaviors to feel that high.
It is not easy at all to quit addiction, whether to a primary substance or secondary. Even when the drug of choice changes, the negative consequences remain the same. Consoling oneself that they he or she is no longer addicted to the same substance they got treatment for and are now clean is a false belief. But there is hope. It is possible to prevent cross-addiction by following these steps:
- It is important to be aware of one’s actions and gain an understanding of what is being consumed. One must remember at all times that he or she is not hooked to a substance, rather than the mood-altering characteristic of that substance. Cross-addiction might change the addiction-forming drug but not the harm it causes. It could be a sign of a relapse.
- It is important to develop coping skills that help an individual navigate through recovery in such a way that he or she remains undeterred when they get a trigger or an opportunity to try something else. Therapies aimed at improving self-confidence and self-worth are critical during this period so that an individual learns to exercise self-control.
- It is essential to gather knowledge about cross addiction and its effects on people. By speaking to the counselors and addiction specialists, one can be aware about this subject.
- It is important to be pro-active. If a recovering person receives a prescription for a substance, which has a label that says, “This may cause drowsiness”, it is important to speak with a doctor or counselor about the possible course of action.
Road to recovery
Cross-addiction is preventable. One needs to love himself/herself strong enough to stay away from any mood-altering substance. In case someone comes across such a substance during the course of after-rehab therapy, one must inform his/her doctor so that the latter can make an informed decision. It is also essential to develop coping mechanisms that can help one to navigate through vulnerable times, without falling prey to cross addiction.
Some people believe that addiction to prescription drugs is not harmful since they are originally prescribed by a doctor. However, prescription medications do have side effects and if taken for long, beyond doctors’ advice, they can create dependence.
If you or someone you know is addicted to any prescription drug, the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline of California can assist you in finding the best drug addiction treatment centers in California where recovery is facilitated in a serene and compassionate environment. Call our 24/7 helpline 855-738-2770 or chat online with one of our representatives who can assist you with complete information about the best rehab centers in California.