Cross Addictions - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Cross Addictions

What Are Cross Addictions?

Cross addiction refers to the presence of two or more addictions. Cross addictions are very common and can usually be treated simultaneously. Many cross addicted patients have developed their dependencies in an effort to deal with their primary addiction. Some of the more common cross addictions that are developed from dealing with a primary addiction are;

- Alcohol dependent individuals using benzodiazepines to function normally when they are in situations where alcohol use would be inappropriate or unacceptable.

- Cocaine dependent individuals using benzodiazepines or alcohol to help reduce the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal when cocaine is not obtainable or use in not practical.

- A person who is anorexic who uses cocaine to help suppress his or her appetite.

- Opiate dependent individuals using benzodiazepines or alcohol to help reduce the cravings associated with opiate withdrawal.

Numerous studies have suggested a common link in addiction by showing that people addicted to one substance are more likely to be addicted to others. The strongest connection is between tobacco and alcohol. Smokers drink twice as much alcohol as non-smokers--and their risk of drinking too heavily is also twice that of non-smokers. One study found that alcoholism is 10 to 14 times more prevalent among smokers. And, while the percentage of smokers has dropped to 30 percent of American adults, it is unchanged among alcoholics.

For these patients, cross addiction is a direct result of "self-medicating" to mask or avoid the withdrawal symptoms developed from their primary addiction. We do not have a rigid or predetermined treatment plan. We evaluate each individual and determine what cross addictions might be involved as well as assessing the severity of their drug or alcohol addiction. A personalized treatment plan is then developed for the individual that addresses their specific needs.

People dealing with multiple dependencies do not have to reach the extreme late stages of dependency to decide to get help. We aggressively treat cross addictions and help people resume sober, productive and healthy lives. We believe in treating the whole person; ignoring an addiction while a person is in treatment can detrimental to his or her long term sobriety.


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