Drug Addiction – Understanding the Nature of Addiction to Understand Cross Addiction

Earlier addiction recovery is a fragile thing. One of the most frequent contributing factors within relapse is something we contact “cross-addiction”. Essentially what cross-addiction means, is that if you are alcoholic or hooked on other mood altering drugs, you a potentially addicted to all mood changing drugs.

To truly understand cross-addiction, you need to appreciate the character of addiction as well as the nature of mood/mind altering drugs.

Addiction is a disease. It is regularly described as a primary, chronic, progressive, plus relapsing disease. Research in the last 10 years tells us that addiction is a mind disease.

People are often reluctant in order to acknowledge addiction as a disease due to voluntary first use of the chemical. Even though someone chooses to use alcohol or other drugs initially, the adjustments that occur in the brain as time passes do not reflect a deliberate option. Addiction changes the neuropathways of the mind. These changes are thought of creating the thinking and feeling distortions that lead to the compulsion to consume drugs despite the obvious damaging consequences. Thus, the nature of addiction is that of compulsive drug use despite negative consequences.
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This “compulsive use despite negative consequences” observation has become an part of an accepted definition of addiction.

Addiction induced brain modifications are common to all drug addictions and a few process addictions (e. g. compulsive behavioral addictions such as gambling addiction, compulsive overeating, sexual addiction). Addiction also involves a bio psychosocial combination of factors in the genesis, maintenance, and recovery. It has been said within the addictions field for a long time that certain people are “hardwired” for addiction, due to biology (i. e., genetics), and become hooked with first use of any mood altering drug.

The nature of mood/mind altering drugs is that they drug your emotions, thoughts, and behavior. They distort your reality or they enable you to escape or ignore reality. Any kind of mood/mind altering drug can be cross addictive. It is the mood altering effects of drugs that people are addicted to. You select a particular drug for its unique pharmaceutic effects, based on your own individual needs. As your needs change, your drug of choice may change. The effects of the drug on your body can change with time as well.

Other variables are often involved in an addict’s choice of drug. Consciously or unconsciously, other factors, like availability, “social acceptability”, perceived lack of negative outcomes, and cost may be part of the selection process.

Mood altering drugs operating in the altered brain neuropathways are usually self reinforcing in a number of ways. They will meet specific individual needs (relaxation, feelings numbing, reducing behavioral senses, etc . ), which is self-reinforcing. The altered neuropathways help maintain the compulsion. The specific drug(s) selected meets individual needs over time so that living skills to meet those same needs usually do not develop. A common example is in which a drug is chosen for its anxiety reduction properties because the addicted individual has few if any anxiety reduction skills. When stress and anxiety levels exceed some threshold, relief will undoubtedly be sought. Without skills to reduce the anxiety, a pharmaceutical solution will be sought, regardless of whether the drug is last drug of choice or a substitute. This is one reason why it is so crucial to identify the roles that the chemicals have played in a recovering person’s life, also to develop the living skills with which to replace those roles.

Whenever a person in recovery acknowledges the issues caused by the drug of choice and believes that s/he can safely use a different drug of choice, they’re not taking into account the fact the “new drug”. like the “old drug” will still operate in the brain in the same way(s). When an addict substitutes one drug for yet another they are not abstinent. His/her brain is still in an active state of addiction. Thus, someone who is addicted to one mood altering drug is addicted to all mood altering drugs.

An addicted brain is qualitatively changed. Changing drugs of choice does not return an addict to a non-addicted state. An addicted person will continue to experience the same negative consequences of drug use. You cannot regain persistent control over drug use by changing drugs.

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