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Cross addiction

Substance Addiction tends not to be confined to a particular mood altering drug.....when you have one addiction, you get the whole set thrown in for free - even before you have experienced the other drugs.

An addict I knew had a bad relapse. We couldn't figure out why. A reason may have been his use (not abuse) of an over the counter flu medication. It contained codeine, which is obtained from opium or prepared from morphine. He was a recovering heroin addict and the codeine sparked cravings. His flu nearly cost him his life.

The many pills and potions I was prescribed in hospital to treat my depression and anxiety, I became addicted to. To this day, I still crave Valium and Chloryl Hydrate on occasions - just out of the blue. But luckily those feelings are just flashes now, but they still serve as a warning.

Many alcoholics/addicts who go into recovery, never actually do. They simply swap one drug of dependence for another. An example would be someone who gives up alcohol and then is using valium long term for their "nerves". The "nerves" are actually protracted withdrawals, their bodies are never given a chance to actually start recovering. This is called cross-addiction. These drugs are usually prescribed to addicts in the first twelve months of recovery. Way too soon in most cases. The brain doesn't seem to differentiate between drugs. 

I am a heavy tobacco smoker. I tried giving it up a couple of years ago by chewing nicorettes. Now I smoke and chew nicorettes. My caffeine consumption amazes people. There has been months where I consumed no other fluids apart from caffeinated drinks. So I guess if it really boils down to it, you could consider me not "recovered". But I am happy where I am at, and tobacco and caffeine does not seem to spark cravings for other drugs. It seems to be the exception to the rule. What are your views on this?... I'd be interested to know. Maybe I'll give up some day, maybe I won't, it's not an issue for me at the moment. Cigarettes and coffee have never caused me do the things I did whilst under the influence of other drugs and they definitely do not make my life unmanageable.

This may anger the non-smokers out there, but giving up tobacco and coffee early in recovery after giving up alcohol and/or other drugs can be quite dangerous. The body can go into overload, and you can end up right back where you started. And no, I'm not rationalizing, I'm serious.

I've got a feeling I may get a lot of email on this subject................

I take no other drugs. I am very careful not to. No liqueur chocolates, no medications containing codeine. I was very scared when I had to have a general anesthetic that I would wake up with withdrawals, or worse still, wake up during the operation because of my tolerance to that class of drugs. I discussed it with my doctor, who I was lucky to have - he understood addiction and he bumped up the levels of anesthetic. I regained consciousness fairly quickly, but at least not while I had the scalpel in me! And yes, I did suffer from mild withdrawals....

These are the things that an addict needs to keep in mind going through day to day life. A great many things that others take for granted, we can't have - or they have higher risks associated with them. It's as simple as that. Remember to carefully read the labels of any medication you are taking and find a doctor who understands your circumstances and the disease of addiction. At this point, I would like to state that I have no professional medical qualifications and I do not wish to turn anyone from their doctor prescribed treatments. I am only suggesting that you be aware of the dangers of cross-addiction by questioning any prescription or treatment you are given. 

If you are not sure about the medication you are currently taking, a good source of information is . It has a huge listing of medications and associated issues. If your medications have a warning label on them that says "may cause drowsiness", you can bet that it contains some sort of MAS (Mood Altering Substance). Sometimes these medications will be necessary, but please, handle with care.

We are on the road to recovery and numerous emotions boil over in us. They can be quite overwhelming, we aren't used to dealing with them "straight". The most prevalent ones are depression and anxiety. Some doctors approach these conditions with the prescription of anti-depressants and tranquilizers. Does that seem right to you?

Doctors abide by what is known as the Hippocratic Oath. The oath had its origins from Hippocrates who is considered to be the Father of modern medicine. He also stated "It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has." This has special bearing in the case of anxiety and depression in the recovering addict. If your doctor is unaware that you have a substance abuse issue, he/she may prescribe totally unsuitable medications that could ultimately bring about your undoing. I came across a scenario like this only a few weeks ago. A close friend of mine who previously had cocaine problems was prescribed a tranquilizer - it had some undesirable effects.

Once again, these medications have their place, but not so much in recovery. The emotions you will experience are normal, they will pass. Anti-depressants and tranquilizers may act as a thin bandage over a gaping wound and may worsen the damage already done. Part of recovery is about dealing with emotions and problems without the use of drugs or "medicines". Medication does play an important part in the initial withdrawal stages, as detoxing can be potentially fatal. If you are currently taking anti-depressants and/or tranquilizers and decide you want to try to get along without them, ensure you discuss it with a qualified health professional first. Sudden cessation of the medication can be dangerous, and there are cases where they are necessary.

Well, my ash-tray is overflowing and my coffee cup is empty....I better go get another!

Michael Bloch

Copyright information.... This article is free for reproduction but must be reproduced in its entirety along with the authors' name and web site link. This copyright statement must be also be included. (c) 2001 - 2007 Michael Bloch, World Wide,. All rights reserved.

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