“Cross addiction” is a term to describe someone suffering from two or more addictive behaviors. In most cases, the person will have addictions to multiple substances, like drugs or alcohol, but it also includes when a person is addicted to, for example, alcohol and sex or gambling. Other terms for cross addiction include addiction transfer or Addiction Interaction Disorder.
These addictive behaviors don’t all have to be present at the same time. Someone who completes treatment and recovers from a heroin addiction can develop a cross addiction later in life to heroin, or vice versa.
Who is Susceptible to Cross Addictions?
Anyone who currently had or has previously had one addiction is susceptible to developing a cross addiction. Most of the time, cross addictions are developed accidentally.
For example, a person may be addicted to alcohol and be prescribed opioids after a surgery. They may believe they can take the opioids without developing an addiction, since they aren’t already addicted to a drug. However, even with moderate use, an addiction often will progress.
Cross addictions are fairly common. According to 2017 stats from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 1 out of every 8 adults in the US struggled with both alcohol and drug use disorders at the same time.
How to Avoid a Cross Addiction
Educating yourself is the best way to prevent any addiction, and a cross addiction is no different.
If you have a history of addiction, advocate for yourself and educate others. If you are at your doctor’s or other health care provider’s office, make sure they know about your history so they don’t hand you a prescription for addictive narcotics. In social settings, do your best to stay away from people who drink heavily or use drugs so that you don’t find yourself tempted to indulge as well.
If you are currently struggling with a substance addiction, the best way to avoid not only developing a cross addiction, but allowing your current addiction to worsen, the best thing you can do is seek treatment. There are a variety of different treatment options available for you depending on the severity of your addiction.
Remember, recovery is a lifelong process, and staying sober may take effort even years after your last drink or the last time you used. Whether you’ve recovered from one addiction but have developed a cross addiction or you’re addicted to just one substance, there’s no shame in seeking help.