Those who struggle with addiction might find themselves struggling with multiple addictions throughout their lifetime. It’s not uncommon for someone to struggle with more than one addiction, which is referred to as cross-addiction. 

Not everyone who experiences cross-addiction goes through the same process. People become addicted to different things, and there is no real way to determine which addictions coincide with each other. However, some might seem to pair together more frequently, like oxycodone and alcohol. 

Cross addiction can happen simultaneously or can be caused after you have gone through recovery for one addiction. People who struggle with addiction are more prone to developing another addiction later on because there is a tendency to experience addictive behaviors even after you’ve recovered. 

It can be hard to realize that addiction is a life-long battle that doesn’t just end once you’ve stopped adhering to your addiction. Becoming sober and overcoming addiction is a process that can be difficult. Still, with the help of professionals, you can make it easier to persevere while you are in active recovery. 

Cross addiction has also been referred to as Addiction Interaction Disorder or addiction transfer and does not just include addictions to drugs and alcohol. You can experience cross-addiction when you are addicted to behaviors like gambling, sex, or other compulsive behaviors. Often, those with addiction to drugs or alcohol will also experience addictive, compulsive behaviors that are linked and influence the other.

How Does Cross Addiction Occur?

Cross addiction can occur in many ways, and not everyone has the same path that leads them to these addictions. 

It can be accidental or from a lack of understanding or due to unresolved mental health issues, but no matter how it happens, it can be devastating and hard to battle on your own. One addiction is debilitating enough, but having two that occur simultaneously makes things even more difficult when trying to get help because they can enable each other. 

Accidental Cross Addiction From a Lack of Understanding

You might already have had an addiction to alcohol that you went through the recovery process for, but then you have to undergo surgery. You could get prescribed painkillers for the recovery process without thinking it will impact you because it’s not the same as alcohol, and you only have a limited supply. 

The feeling you get from that drug might reinforce you to want more, eventually leading to another addiction. The feeling you get might be different from your experience with alcohol, but it can bring back similar memories and emotions. 

You may not think you would be impacted, but that’s not usually the case. Often, when you struggle with one substance, other substances will be more dangerous to you because there is a higher likelihood that you could become addicted. 

While it is hopeful thinking and probably with good intentions, once you’ve struggled with addiction just once in your life, it is something that will impact you for the remainder of your life.  

Mental Health Issues and Cross Addiction

When you struggle with addiction to substances or compulsive behaviors, it can be linked to a co-occurring mental health disorder or what’s known as a dual diagnosis. This means that you have a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder. 

These two can interact with each other and lead to other addictions or behaviors that could be harmful or dangerous to you. You might begin using drugs or alcohol if you have a history of depression or anxiety because they help you relax or escape your reality. You might use drugs like cocaine or heroin as your mental health worsens and becomes harder to control. 

Signs and Warnings

If you think that someone you love is beginning to struggle with cross addictions, there are some ways that you can see what is unfolding. They might begin to act out more impulsively, especially in behaviors like gambling or eating. 

They may also be showing signs of relapse from drugs and alcohol while their impulsive behaviors reveal themselves. It might be likely that the person undergoing this struggle is trying their best not to fall back into their addiction. Therefore, it turns to other behaviors that aren’t necessarily healthy for coping. 

It’s always important to keep an eye out for any unusual behavior when dealing with someone who has struggled with substances in the past. Being able to spot inconsistencies or tension can help you identify when someone you love needs extra support. 

Is Cross Addiction Common?

There aren’t yet specific rates for cross-addiction, but we know that it is not unusual for people to be using multiple substances or participating in multiple addictive habits. 

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that in 2014, 21.5 million people over the age of 12 struggled with Substance Use Disorder (SUD), but even then, only 10 percent of all substance use disorders are diagnosed and treated. It can be very difficult to admit to yourself, let alone others, that you have an issue that you need help with. 

The prevalence of addiction makes it hard to ignore, but many people try their best to as if that will somehow magically make it disappear. When one addiction goes untreated, others are likely to arise, as the substance you use starts to waiver, and it loses the ability to give you the feeling you desire. 

You’ll often see cross addictions occur when two habits “go together.” Alcohol and tobacco can find themselves working as partners when it comes to addiction in one person, just like alcohol and gambling can. Everyone will experience cross-addiction differently, but no matter what they are struggling with, it deserves to be treated and taken seriously!

Treating and Avoiding Cross Addiction

Treating cross addictions might differ depending on where you are receiving your treatment services. In general, going through a 12-step program, undergoing therapy, receiving medically-assisted treatment, and participating in inpatient treatment can be extremely helpful when trying to treat cross-addiction. 

Everyone experiences addiction differently, and when you are dealing with multiple addictions, you might require even more specific treatment. Recovery centers are meant to provide you with the individualized treatment needed to overcome your cross-addiction. 

Sometimes avoiding cross-addiction is impossible, as it can happen accidentally. But if you are aware that you are someone with an addictive personality, who has had previous addictions or currently has one, there are ways for you to try to prevent other addictions from forming. Being educated on addiction can help you understand how cross addiction can occur. 

You should be mindful of other substances or behaviors related to addiction if you have had an addiction before. This way, you can actively take note of how you might be encouraging another addiction to form and the ways that you can ensure that you remain safe and in control. If you struggle with addiction, the easiest way to avoid cross-addiction is to stay clear of addictive substances and behaviors. It is rather easy to fall into an addictive lifestyle if you’ve once found comfort in one before. 

Living your life without any harmful distractions can limit your chances of developing another addiction. You can try to find a better outlet, one that is more creative or active, so that you can pull yourself away from any toxic cycles you find yourself drawn to. Being real with yourself will always benefit you. You know yourself best, so don’t let another addiction slow you down! 

Getting Help At Soba Recovery Centers

Inpatient services can offer you the most when dealing with cross-addiction. There are multiple kinds of methods that recovery centers use to make sure that all needs are met, and at Soba Recovery Center, you’re sure to get the care you need. Personalized methods for care allow the team members at Soba to ensure you arrive in recovery safely. 

We work with you to address your needs, so if you are someone who struggles with alcohol use disorder and gambling, we want to know. The more information we have about your needs, the better we can assist you!

If you think that Soba Recovery Center could be the place for you, reach out to a representative to talk about how we can help you. 



Prevalence Of The Addictions: A Problem Of The Majority Or The Minority? | NCBI

Concurrent Substance-Related Disorders And Mental Illness: The North American Experience | NCBI

Mental Health And Substance Use Disorders | SAMHSA

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