If you understand the fundamentals of addiction, you’ll understand that it was never about the drugs or alcohol or other self-destructive behaviours.

What characterizes addiction is the obsessive and compulsive nature of the behaviour and also what happens when we do act out on that behaviour. We start a process that is exclusive to our condition, POWERLESSNESS. Powerlessness means that we lose control and our lives become unmanageable. Unmanageability can be characterized by looking at certain areas of life.

Socially, Financially, Spiritually and emotionally. If we take an honest look at those areas of our lives, we will see, specific examples where the powerlessness has affected our very core.
Cross addiction is when you swop one drug of choice for another, quiet plainly it’s just allowing the manifestation of obsession to filter into different areas.
The way the brain works in addiction is like this. Our pleasure centers get overloaded with dopamine to name but one chemical.
Dopamine is a brain chemical involved in many different functions including movement, motivation, reward – and addiction. Nearly all drugs of abuse directly or indirectly increase dopamine in the pleasure and motivation pathways and in so doing, alter the normal communication between neurons.

Now if we understand that, then we can understand that it’s not about drugs. It’s about the Dopamine release. So it really doesn’t matter what your drug of choice is, there are many different ways to get the brain to release those same chemicals. Even certain behaviors like sex and gambling release dopamine. There is another chemical that plays a major role in addiction, endorphin.

‘What are Endorphina?

Endorphins function as neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals that transmit electrical signals throughout the nervous system. This complex of amino acids is released when we are under stress, in pain, or feeling pleasure.
Endorphins deliver our feelings of contentment and euphoria. They are responsible for that warm and fuzzy feeling we get when we’re in love.
Endorphins numb the pain in times of physical or emotional stress. They are the reason why soldiers wounded in battle are able to keep on fighting. This is the reason why family members manage to make funeral preparations for loved ones despite the agony of loss.
Endorphins help to regulate appetite, release sex hormones, and enhance the immune system.’

Alcohol releases loads of Endorphin as does gym and sex. The potential for an addict of any kind to cross addict to a behavior that releases Endorphin is completely realistic and a great threat too many in early recovery.
To round off, cross addiction is real and happens on a daily basis. People in early recovery think that they are in recovery when actually they have just switched sides. They take normal activities like gym or exercise and push it to the limit.

I believe a fair question can be asked: Is your obsessive behavior costing you more than money?

Another way to gage your behavior is to try an experiment. If you say that gym, sex, porn, etc. is not a problem for you, then just stop…
Simple enough.
Not an alcoholic? Don’t drink.

Next Steps

We hope that you found this article useful and equipping when it comes to understanding cross-addcition.  If you are struggling with an Addiction or know someone who is. Please feel free to contact us and we can help you with your next steps.

Cherrywood House is a rehabilitation centre for people suffering from substance and other addictive disorders. It is situated in the tranquil, semi-rural environments of Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa. We offer  Residential Programmes, Aftercare Support Services, Outpatient Programme, Family Support Groups. For more information. Visit our Website Here.