In Clearbrook Treatment Centers Pennsylvania, Family Resources, Personal Resources, Relapse Prevention, Sober Living

Understanding Cross Addiction

It’s said in the recovery community that one must be cautious of switching addictions after recovering from drug or alcohol abuse. For many people, addiction leaves a huge void, and many recovering addicts attempt to fill this void but end up developing another form of addiction. Understanding cross addiction to prevent relapse is a lesson that many recovering addicts never learned. Our Clearbrook rehab in Pennsylvania is expanding on cross addiction, what it means, how it happens, and some common ones you should avoid.


What Is Cross Addiction?

Also known as Addiction Interaction Disorder or cross dependence, cross addiction is when a person develops two or more kinds of addictions. The addictions or addictive behaviors include drug and alcohol abuse, compulsive gambling, sex addiction, cyber addiction, and other compulsive behaviors. Addiction itself refers to the compulsive and uncontrollable use of drugs or alcohol or engagement in a behavior despite the repercussions. For instance, if you continue to gamble despite going into debt, losing your home, or damaging your relationships, you most likely have a gambling addiction.

Cross addictions don’t always occur at the same time. For example, some people in recovery from prescription drug addiction may drink more heavily in recovery and eventually become dependent on alcohol. With that being said, people with one addiction are more susceptible to developing another one if they aren’t careful. That’s why people in recovery who complete their drug treatment programs are encouraged to join an alumni program or other supplemental programs at their treatment facilities to keep them accountable and help them stay sober after rehab.


Cross-Addiction Causes

Cross addiction occurs for different reasons, but most often, it’s accidental. Someone with a history of alcoholism may have surgery and be prescribed opioid medication to manage the pain. Opioids are among the most commonly abused substances in the United States and are highly addictive. The euphoria and sense of reward these drugs can produce when misused can lead to increased use and eventually addiction.


A lack of understanding and preventative measures can also increase a person’s risk of developing and dealing with multiple addictions. A person with an addiction to benzodiazepines or opioids may think drinking alcohol is safe until they find themselves dependent on drinking, too. It’s also crucial for recovering addicts to seek out effective resources to set them up for success in the future. At facilities such as our Northeast addictions treatment center, patients may receive addiction counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a variety of other treatments to help them develop relapse prevention skills.


Keep in mind that cross addictions don’t develop overnight. Like any addiction, long-term and increased use of drugs or alcohol or engagement in addictive behaviors eventually progress. Oftentimes, the individual isn’t even aware that they’ve developed an addiction until their health suffers or their loved ones point out the issue. A great way to avoid switching addictions in recovery is to stay connected with the recovery community through alumni groups and have a loved one act as an accountability partner.


Common Cross Addictions

According to a study on alcohol and prescription drug abuse, men and women with alcoholism are 18 times more likely to abuse prescription drugs than people who don’t drink at all.1 Research also found that 20.1 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder related to their drug or alcohol use in 2016, including 15.1 million people who had alcoholism and 7.4 million people who had drug addictions.2 These numbers bumped up to 20.3 million people aged 12 or older with a SUD related to a drug or alcohol addiction in 2018. This includes 14.8 million people who had alcoholism and

8.1 million people who had drug addictions.3

Although cross addiction is the exception and not the rule, it’s still a serious concern that recovering addicts and their loved ones should be mindful of. Some common cross addictions include:

  • Gambling addiction
  • Sex addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Addiction to other drugs
  • Food addiction
  • Exercise addiction

The dangers of cross addiction are extensive. While the recovering addict may no longer actively drink alcohol, they may find themselves unable to stay away from gambling. Not only can this impact their finances and relationships, but the frustration of an additional addiction can impact their sobriety. Cross addictions create vicious cycles that can take over a person’s life. It’s important to find a treatment center that provides addiction treatment, mental health, and relapse prevention services to prepare you for life outside of rehab.

Understanding cross addiction is one of the many ways you can avoid switching addictions and relapse, but you have to start somewhere. If you’ve been affected by an addiction or cross addiction or know someone who has, Clearbrook Treatment Centers can help. Call us today at 570-536-9621 to learn more about our Pennsylvania drug treatment and relapse prevention services.

Related Reading:

Relapse Triggers & How To Avoid Them

5 Excuses We Make To Avoid Going To Rehab



  1. NIH – Alcohol Abuse Makes Prescription Drug Abuse More Likely
  2. SAMHSA – Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

SAMHSA – Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

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