A person may occasionally experience discomfort through their recovery from a substance use disorder. As a result, people in recovery sometimes gravitate towards other excessive behaviors to alleviate these feelings of discomfort.

Cross-addictions are behaviors that are done in excess to help a person escape some part of their reality that is causing them discomfort. There are many different types of cross-addictions to be mindful of when working on recovery.

Some common cross-addictions include exercise, work, sex, and eating. While these behaviors are not unhealthy in and of themselves, like abusing drugs and alcohol is, they have several unhealthy similarities to substance use disorders. Just like substance use disorders, cross-addictions are behaviors that are done in excess. Another commonality between substance use disorders and cross-addictions is that they are used to escape an uncomfortable aspect of a person’s reality.

When a cross-addiction occurs, it mean a person is not dealing with the underlying issues that were causing his or her substance use disorder in the first place. It’s essentially like playing whack-a-mole: once one addictive behavior stops, another one pops up because the underlying issues are not being addressed. This vicious cycle will continue until the underlying issues are recognized and dealt with in healthy ways.

Dealing with a Cross-Addiction

There are a few methods for beginning to address underlying issues in healthy ways. Participating in a twelve-step fellowship, working with a therapist, or a combination of the two are all health ways of dealing with underlying issues that contribute to substance use disorders. When a person participates in a twelve step fellowship, they can work through the twelve steps with a sponsor. Through this process, they learn about their underlying issues and address them appropriately while being held accountable by another person. Working with a therapist allows clients to gain insight into their underlying issues with the help of a counselor and learn healthy coping skills that can be used moderately, not excessively, to address their problems.

If you have developed a cross-addiction since stopping your substance use, it’s important that you begin to address your underlying issues in a healthy way. Consider attending twelve-step meetings and working with a sponsor to identify and process the problems. You may also want to begin seeing a therapist who specializes in substance use disorders and can help you find healthier ways of coping.