It’s more common than not that a person has more than one addiction. It’s common for substances to be taken together, such as cocaine and heroin or alcohol and cannabis. While this is common, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. That’s why it’s crucial that a person gets treatment right away. It’s also common that a person might enter treatment for one addiction, but find there’s much more going on. This article talks about multiple addictions, how it impacts treatment, and whether or not addictions should be treated together or separately.
When You Have Multiple Addictions
There are several substances that are often taken together. Many drugs are often taken with alcohol or nicotine, and some harder drugs are even taken together. A person can also have multiple addictions where one addiction is a substance addiction, while the other is a behavioral addiction. This is also common when a person is trying to use a substance less or quit, as they often replace one addiction for another. This can make it look as if the person has beaten their addiction, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sometimes a person might not be aware that they have multiple addictions because one addiction may seem worse than the others.
Multiple Addictions and Your Health
Having multiple addictions is more dangerous than having just one. In the first place, mixing substances can be very dangerous. The outcomes are often unpredictable. Mixing substances can increase negative side effects or lead to overdose. For example, mixing depressants can lead to dangerously low heart rate and breathing, while mixing alcohol with cocaine can make you more vulnerable to alcohol poisoning. People who take opioids often mix them with alcohol, increasing the chances of opioid-related death.
Multiple addictions also mean double the physical effects and an enormous toll on the body. More than one addiction can impact your lungs, brain, heart, and kidneys more than using a single substance. For example, if you smoke cannabis and also smoke nicotine, you are twice as likely to cause long-term damage to your lungs. More than one addiction can also increase the severity of your addiction as it has a larger impact on your brain chemistry. It’s important to get treatment as soon as you can before your addiction gets worse.
Getting Treatment for Multiple Addictions
Before you seek treatment, you’ll need to enter into a medical detox program. Detoxing from multiple substances will be a lot more difficult than a single substance. Those who are caring for you during detox should be informed about multiple addictions if you are aware of them so that they know what withdrawal symptoms to expect. If your addiction is more severe, it’s also likely that it’ll take longer to go through withdrawal symptoms.
When a person with multiple addictions seeks treatment, the program needs to treat every addiction at the same time. This can complicate treatment and a more customized approach to treatment will be necessary. If a person only treats one addiction, it’s likely that a person will just replace it with the other.
Treatment also needs to take care of the underlying reasons behind the addiction. Even if both addictions were treated, they still need to treat behaviors, as it’s most likely that those addictions will be replaced as well. This is called cross addiction. It’s also possible for someone to realize during treatment that they have multiple addictions. Learning about addictive behavior creates more self-awareness for those in treatment, and they are often better able to identify the addictions they’ve been experiencing. Treatment can be adjusted to cover multiple addictions in this case.
Staying Sober With Multiple Addictions
Sobriety is harder with multiple addictions. There are more cravings to deal with and triggers to avoid. Thankfully, most drugs that are taken together occur in the same environment. Those who are in recovery should also be wary of how they interact with most substances and even some activities because it’s common to replace one addiction with another. People recovering from addiction need to be mindful of how they enjoy things and determine if it’s excessive or negatively impacting their life.
After treatment, taking part in aftercare as a way to stay connected to the recovery community is important. There are many options for continuing treatment even after one has graduated from a program. Those with multiple addictions often need extra support, especially in early recovery. It’s also important to stay busy because boredom can often cause people with addiction to use again. Stress management is also important for this reason. It’s common for people with an addiction to use substances as a way to self-medicate or cope with stress.
Addiction is already difficult on its own, but it’s even more difficult when a person has multiple addictions. It can also complicate things when a person replaces one addiction for another after treatment. This is why it’s recommended for people to stay away from most substances in recovery. Unfortunately, it’s common to replace one for the other. If you are concerned that you have multiple addictions, or you believe you replaced one addiction for another, it’s important that you speak to a mental health care professional. People also might not be aware of the behavioral addictions that they have. A behavioral addiction is an addiction to an activity. Common behavioral addictions include gambling, shopping, sex, eating, and social media. It’s important to be mindful of your behaviors and to make sure they aren’t excessive. To learn more, call to speak with a Bella Monte staff member today at (800) 974-1938.