Can you Treat Multiple Addictions at Once?

old woman holding a cane

Many people are grappling with substance use disorder and are addicted to more than one substance or show signs of behavioral addiction. This is sometimes referred to as polysubstance dependence and isn’t uncommon considering the nature of the disease and how it alters the reward center in the brain. When a patient with an addiction to three or more substances attends treatment, each addiction is best treated as part of a whole. Using a comprehensive approach with medication and substance use counseling is usually the best course and can even be done in an outpatient setting in most cases.

Two Types of Multiple Addictions

Addiction doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and every patient will have a unique circumstance that will need a personalized treatment plan. However, to better understand how to treat multiple addictions, experts have divided these situations into two different categories: co-occurring and cross-addictions.

  • Co-occurring addiction: When someone engages in more than one addictive behavior simultaneously. This can include misusing substances and then participating in addictive activities such as gambling, sex, shopping, eating, or any other behavior that has become obsessive.

  • Cross-addiction: When a person misuses substances or exhibits addictive behaviors separately and at different times. For example, someone struggling with substance use disorder and gambling will switch off when they engage between the two, sometimes substituting the “high” of one for the other.

Both categories of multiple addictions often have underlying psychological and mental health roots and the people affected are at an elevated risk of injury or overdose. It’s imperative that people facing more than one addiction seek the right kind of help to address every aspect involved.

Treating Multiple Addictions

People struggling with more than one addiction will need a treatment plan that differs from those with substance use disorder to one drug. Still, a medical provider that regularly prescribes Suboxone® in an outpatient clinic for opioid use disorder can help a patient that also misuses amphetamines, alcohol, or other drugs. For behavioral addictions that are co-occurring, a referral to a specialist that deals with mental health and DSM-4 is a critical course of action.

Risk of Relapse

Because there is no cure for addiction, anyone struggling with the disease who attends treatment becomes aware that relapse is often part of the recovery journey. Logically, the risk of relapse increases when someone is battling more than one addiction, especially when behavioral addictions are involved. Each individual patient will be evaluated by a medical provider to determine the best course of treatment for their specific situation for the best possible outcome and success rate for recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance misuse or addictive behaviors, contact the knowledgeable and compassionate staff at Middlesex Recovery. Patients enrolled in our outpatient program have unlimited access to our medical staff, counselors, and referrals for specialists to attend to their treatment needs. To get started, check out our handy guide, or contact us today with any questions.

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