When someone has an addictive personality and the vulnerability to engage in compulsive behavior it is not surprising if they suffer from multiple addictions. Cross addictions are all too common in the world of recovery as hardly anyone enters treatment with a simple cut-and-dry problem. With multiple addictions there are also likely to be mental health problems that can interfere with a person’s ability to recover. That is why it is extremely important for treatment centers to focus on each individual’s problems in their entirety.
Only treating one addiction or neglecting to address an addict’s mental health issues will most likely lead to an inefficient recovery and ultimately relapse. Addiction is a complex problem but even more so for people with multiple addictions or mental health issues. Only the right kind of treatment can help these individuals to live sober and reduce the symptoms of their disorder.
Cross and Co-Occurring Addictions
Addicts often deal with problems like cross addiction or co-occurring addictions especially when they attempt to quit their main drug of choice. People with cross addictions will switch from one addiction to another while those with co-occurring addictions engage in multiple addictions simultaneously. Through the course a person’s addiction, symptoms of a disorder like depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems could start to develop especially if they are switching between different drugs.
Their mental health issues could also precede and also be a major cause of their various addictions. Either way it is rare that a patient is only dealing with a single problem and treatment centers that only address a single glaring issue could be ignoring other aspects of the person’s health that are strongly linked to their addiction. For people first entering treatment they must be assessed for any related issues that could prove problematic to their recovery.
Self-Medication and Relapse
For many patients, their cross addictions can set in with a vengeance when they first attempt to abstain from their main addiction while in treatment. In most cases, the addict is replacing their former addiction with another secondary addiction that may have been minimal in the past.
As soon as they no longer have access to their primary addiction, they switch into their other habit full force. In other cases two or more addictions are strongly intertwined such as when a person chain smokes while drinking.
The two addictions might go hand in hand and quitting both simultaneously can prove to be extremely challenging. With co-occurring addictions a relapse of one addiction can quickly lead to a relapse of the other as well. There is always an underlying reason why an addict engages in substance abuse – they want to feel better by altering their mental state.
In the case of multiple addictions, the person is heavily self-medicating through different types of drugs use. Many patients with multiple addictions are attempting to treat symptoms of a psychological disorder that they may or may not be aware that they have. They are attempting to distract themselves from the discomfort and pain of their mental health issues and resort to different methods to combat their symptoms.
Even though self-medication provides a temporary release from emotional distress, engaging in cross or co-occurring addictions will only exacerbate the situation especially in the case of a mental health disorder. Addictions to different types of drugs can cause a myriad of different emotional problems to come up and consume an individual in a path of self-destruction. Treating every addiction and every mental health problem is the only way for a person to reach a lasting recovery. Seeking programs that cater toward multiple addictions and focus on mental health treatment are the best opportunity for addicts to effectively address each of their complex issues.