what is cross addiction

People struggling with substance use disorders and are finding a growing number of ways to cope and recover from this challenging condition. But when you’re dealing with addiction for the first time or know someone who’s struggling with substance abuse, some terms and concepts get thrown around, making patients and their loved ones confused.

Many people make the mistake of confusing cross-addiction and dual diagnosis. Cross-addiction is a concept indicating that a person has developed a severe substance use disorder, which is the term for addiction, putting them at risk of developing another disorder from another substance.

On the other hand, dual diagnosis refers to an individual with two different and unrelated psychological disorders, such as alcohol use disorder and depression. If you’re looking for substance abuse treatment in Havertown, PA, keep reading. It pays to know more about cross-addiction and how to manage it.

Cross-Addiction: Is It a Myth?

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there that says that people who are in recovery are at a high risk of developing substitute addictions to other substances. This evidence is beneficial to help describe the basic idea of this concept—however it is not strong enough to construct an overall theoretical concept.

The notion that vulnerable individuals with past substance use disorders are likely to develop a new form of substance abuse seems to appeal more to common sense reasoning. But looking at it on a bigger scale, cross-addiction appears to be related to how individuals make choices, and possibly to changes in their brain chemistry due to their substance use.

Until recently, there has actually been no empirical evidence that could support the notion of cross-addiction, and we’ll learn more about it today.

Early Findings on Cross-Addiction

If you’re looking for substance abuse treatment in Havertown, PA, it’s always important to understand all the concepts and terms related to the web of addiction. Over time, different studies were conducted that evolved the understanding of cross-addiction.

  • In 2004, the Addictive Behaviors journal conducted a study comparing different addictions and how it affects individuals and their use. Individuals who are under a certain substance classification showed that they have a higher risk of developing a new substance disorder from another drug.
  • In 2008, the Journal of Addictive Diseases found that when certain individuals follow a methadone maintenance treatment program, it significantly reduced the risk of alcohol and cocaine usage, which seemed to go against the notion of cross-addiction.
  • And finally, a 2010 study conducted by Drug and Alcohol Dependence reported that regular marijuana users who had a history of substance abuse increase their alcohol intake when they abstain from marijuana, which supported the theory of cross-addiction.

At this time, many individuals accepted cross-addiction in various circles. But again, like any scientific study, it needed to be backed up by more empirical evidence.

The Results That Changed the Game

Going deeper into cross-addiction may help professionals recommend and develop better substance abuse treatments for patients. Because of the lack of findings regarding cross-addiction, the National Epidemiological Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) performed a study with 34,000 adults — these findings were quite interesting:

  • Individuals with active substance use disorders were more likely to develop another substance problem compared to those in remission
  • People who didn’t address their original substance disorder are more vulnerable to develop new substance issues
  • Those who have successfully addressed their substance disorder are less likely to develop new substance abuse problems

The Bottom Line: Is Cross-Addiction Still a Myth?

Although there is still only a limited amount of research that has been conducted on cross-addiction, the most recent studies available indicate that individuals who have completed substance abuse treatment and a recovery program are at a reduced risk of developing another substance use disorder.

For this reason, it’s best to remain vigilant and ensure that you or your loved ones who are on the road to recovery strictly follow the recovery program to ensure they reach sobriety.

How Can We Help You?

If you’re looking for substance abuse treatment in Havertown, PA, we’re here to help. American Treatment Network offers a unified approach to treatment in caring for patients, addressing physical issues, mental behavioral issues, and more. We also offer immediate access to care and assessment, so patients get treated right away. Learn more about our services today, and let us help you!


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