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Cross-Addiction: The Back Door to Relapse (Video)

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This videotape discusses the dangers of cross-addiction.
Addiction to alcohol and drugs is a powerful disease that claims thousands of lives every year. Once an addict is addicted to one drug, he or she is addicted to all drugs. The addict has lost the ability to have a casual relationship with any drug. Addiction happens on two levels; there are changes in behavior and thoughts, and physical changes in the structure of the brain. The brain gets high from neurotransmitters. Artificial means, such as drugs and alcohol, can be used to achieve the same level of high. An addict’s brain has a particularly strong reaction to chemicals that produce euphoria and a “body rush.” The brain remembers what causes pleasure and produces the desire to repeat this pleasure. This soon takes precedence over everything else. During the progression and preoccupation phase of addiction, the addict gives up important activities and relationships and will do anything to get the drug. The dose is increased to achieve the effects and soon the drug is used to feel better or “normal,” not to feel high. This leads to reckless behavior with no sense of consequence. Hitting bottom is when the addict finally realizes what the drug has done to him or her and the relationships that were once important. The addicted brain does not care what drug is used. It automatically reverts back to the worst part of the previous addiction. Addicts have the illusion that some drugs are “safe” from addiction. It is often these drugs that cause a relapse to the original drug of addiction. Addiction is a chronic illness. Complacency can take over once the addict has been sober for a number of years. Understanding cross-addiction is vital to staying clean and sober. The addict must practice total abstinence and avoid high-risk situations. The craving will never end--the sense of intoxication is indelibly etched in the brain--but asking for help and having a support network can help one through the mine of emotional triggers that will undoubtedly come up.


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