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

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

To truly understand cross-addiction, you should appreciate the character of addiction and the nature of mood/mind altering medications.

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

People are often reluctant 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 changes that occur in the brain over time do not reflect a deliberate selection. Addiction changes the neuropathways of the mind. These changes are thought of creating the thinking and sensation distortions that lead to the compulsion to consume drugs despite the obvious adverse consequences. Thus, the nature of dependancy is that of compulsive drug make use of despite negative consequences. This “compulsive use despite negative consequences” statement has become an part of an accepted associated with addiction.

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

The nature of mood/mind altering drugs is that they drug your emotions, thoughts, and behavior. They perspective 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 choose a particular drug for its unique pharmaceutic effects, based on your own individual needs. As your needs change, your medication of choice may change. The effects of the particular drug on your body can change with time as well.

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

Mood altering drugs operating in the altered brain neuropathways are usually self reinforcing in a number of ways. These people meet specific individual needs (relaxation, feelings numbing, reducing behavioral inhibitions, etc . ), which is self-reinforcing. The particular 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 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 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, and to develop the living skills with which to replace those roles.

When a person in recovery acknowledges the problems caused by the drug of choice and believes that s/he can safely use a different drug of choice, they are 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 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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