What are Cross Addictions? (& FAQ's) | Ambrosia - AmbroisaTC Ambrosia Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center
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Cross Addictions

Nearly 25% of alcoholics who have at least one year of sobriety substituted eating desserts, smoking cigarettes, and working for their original addiction.

Once your loved one is discharged from drug and alcohol treatment, it can be difficult adjusting to the outside world. Not knowing how to live soberly can be stressful and frightening. It is easy for your loved one to pick up another habit to cope with the daily stress of recovery.

Addiction is not only a physical activity, such as ingesting drugs. It can also be characterized as a mental obsession, a process in the brain that craves something pleasurable, even if it brings about unwanted consequences.

If the emotional or psychological stresses of different areas of our lives are not understood and treated, switching to another substance or non-drug behavior becomes a coping mechanism to feel better.

Frequently Asked Questions from Families


Cross addiction makes it more difficult to resist the cravings for the original drug of choice. Whenever you engage in something pleasurable, your brain releases dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical. When you have an addiction, your brain needs that feeling. That need is what triggers cravings that can drive your loved one back to their original substance or activity that got them to rehab in the first place.
Potential Relapse
The new addiction (smoking, binge eating, video gaming) may seem harmless at first, especially compared to when your loved one was using alcohol and drugs. But in reality, anything can have a negative effect – physically, emotionally, financially, etc. Just as a diabetic needs to watch the intake of sugar, a person recovering from addiction must be cautious in avoiding anything habit-forming. Abstinence from all mood-altering, mind-altering substances (and addictive behaviors) is the best way to prevent a relapse into addiction.

While symptoms and treatment vary from person to person, there are common signs of addiction. Not every individual suffering from any type of addiction will show all of the following signs, but be on the look out for:

  • Ignoring responsibilities, like work, family, or school, in order to engage in their compulsive activity
  • Becoming irritable, anxious, or moody when you don’t have access to the substance or activity
  • Committing illegal acts, such as theft or fraud, to fund their habit
  • Abandoning hobbies or other things they use to enjoy
  • Attempting to quit the activity or substance multiple times without success

While some substitute addictions, like exercise, can be beneficial – some need to be monitored and balanced. Although trading addictions may seem like a safer habit to have, they can still be damaging and very distressful to the individual.
The most important thing is to identify the root compulsive behaviors, recognizing how they are impacting your loved one’s life, and finding appropriate counseling.

  • 1. Daily Plan – Help your loved one learn to balance work, play, and life without spending too much time on one activity. Having an adequate amount of time daily to recharge and refocus can help your loved one’s recovery.
  • 2. Take Action – Help your loved one not put off responsibilities due to spending too much time on one activity. If your loved one’s obligations start to pile up because they aren’t balancing their responsibilities, help them refocus their attention and energy.
  • 3. Find professional counseling or self-help support network. A skilled therapist can help them identify and examine the thought patterns and feelings underlying their addictive behaviors. Once you learn to recognize these thoughts and emotions, their therapist will help them find ways to deal with them in a healthy manner.

It is very common in early recovery to trade old behavior for new, unhealthy compulsive behaviors. It is important to distinguish addictions that occur at the same time to treat the root of our problem.

  • Tobacco/Cigarettes
  • Binge-Eating or Purging
  • Gambling
  • Gaming or Technology Use
  • Sex
  • Exercise
  • Shopping
  • Work
  • Caffeine
  • Developing a Co-Dependent Relationship

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Even if you’re feeling powerless, there’s always hope! Donny, our dedicated ARISE interventionist, can talk to you today about your options. Following his advice, three of every four people come directly to treatment.

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