Originally Posted @ http://www.newbridgerecovery.com/marijuana-harmless-addictive/
Addictionland - Addiction Recover Blog
Bill is 28 years old and has recently gotten over a decade long prescription pill addiction. During his addiction, Bill ignored alcohol and instead spent all his time and money on supporting his drug habit. Now 6 months sober, Bill starts to have thoughts about drinking. He thinks “If I was addicted to pills, why can’t I drink?” Slowly Bill begins to convince himself that his problems were because of pills and that he will be able to responsibly drink alcohol. He starts drinking with no immediate problems. At first he has great experiences with drinking and has no real consequences. However, he finds that alcohol does not quite give him the feelings that his pills used to. Then a few months later Bill gets pretty intoxicated one night and calls up his old drug dealer. In his inhibited state of mind, he desires the old feelings that the pills used to give him. Quickly Bill starts up his drug habit again and finds himself worse off than he was before he got sober. “How did this happen?” Bill desperately asks himself.
I tell this hypothetical story to illustrate the dangers of cross addiction. I loosely define cross addiction as switching or replacing one addiction with another unhealthy addiction. While the story above is made up, the theme of it is all too real. I have seen many sober alcoholics relapse on prescription pills or marijuana, because they think that their problems only relate to alcohol. Likewise, I have seen many sober drug addicts relapse on alcohol, thinking that alcohol won’t affect them like drugs did. The reality is that if you have an addiction to one substance, you are at a high risk of developing addictions to other substances. This is because alcohol, narcotics, and pills act upon the brain in the same way, stimulating the dopamine reward pathways. Habits, such as sex, gambling, smoking, and eating are taken to excess they can even become a cross addiction for an addict or alcoholic. This is because like alcohol and drugs, sex and eating release dopamine in our brains. It is not uncommon for a newly sober alcoholic to develop an unhealthy eating habit or a compulsive smoking addiction.
While things like sex and eating are normal and important activities, when taken to excess they can be unhealthy and lead to a relapse. The main danger of cross addiction is a full blown relapse into the original addiction. As in Bill’s story, his cross addiction eventually led him back to the root of his problems. This is a tricky topic because many people who do not know about cross addiction are putting themselves at risk without being aware of the dangers. Cross addictions such as over-eating can lead to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, or high blood pressure. Compulsive sexual behaviors can lead to sexual transmitted infections or infidelity in relationships. The important thing to remember is everything in moderation; even normal behaviors taken to excess can have negative effects.
Recovery is about learning to live and thrive without substances or mind-altering chemicals. It is about becoming satisfied and comfortable with yourself and your emotions. Using any substance or activity to ‘escape’ or numb difficult emotions is not healthy. I encourage everyone in early recovery to learn about cross addiction and develop healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety.
I am honored to be the December Expert particularly because this first day happens to be my birthday. Yet the date does not mark the only time I was shifted from a place of comfort to a visceral shock to the system.
I’ve been given the most precious gift of life three times. I was physically born in December of 1961, almost died in 2001 and then tested fate again in 2008. The 46-year journey was a roller coaster of addiction, emotional chaos and nonstop searching for a way out.
Although I can't remember the first few celebrations of the date I entered this world, all accounts indicated they were joyous, happy and fun. I’ve been told people poured attention on me with beautifully wrapped boxes to open and cards read by others with messages for a future far better than their own.
Those of us who have been in and around the “recovery community” are all too aware of the prevalence of eating disorders within the recovering alcohol and drug community. The purpose of this article is to heighten awareness of both the nature and prevalence of eating disorders particular to the community of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.
The most common question I am asked by someone with an eating disorder, or, for that matter, most medical professionals, is "How can you describe an eating disorder like compulsive overeating or bulimia as an "addiction" to food? Part of the answer has to do with the similarities between cocaine addiction and "food addiction." Has anyone ever experienced a change in their appetite when ingesting amphetamines [aka "diet pills], cocaine, or methamphetamine? What happened to your appetite when you "crashed"? Although perhaps more subtle, the food addict may experience a similar effect. The summary below may offer an explanation.