Many substance use disorders are comprised of a combination of addictions at the same time.  Since these addictions coexist, they interact and reinforce each other.  The process is known as Addiction Interaction Disorder (AID).  Overcoming AID requires professional treatment that targets both addictions simultaneously.  

In most cases, people with multiple addictions are struggling with two or more of the following addictions at any given time:

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Work
  • Eating
  • Sex
  • Internet
  • Gambling

Although the addictions are different, they share certain similarities.  Also, the consequences of these addictions are often the same.  

Treating Addiction Interaction Disorder

Individuals with Addiction Interaction Disorder often feel strong emotions and stressors which fuel the addictions.  Emotions such as guilt, shame, stress, trauma, and denial play a role.  Recovery depends on addressing each of these factors professionally. 

Traditional substance abuse programs focus on treating a person’s drug of choice.  These drugs are usually prescription painkillers, alcohol, cocaine, or heroin.  However, the accompanying addiction may not be diagnosed and will not be treated.  This oversight can leave the person at high risk for relapse.  For that reason, treating AID involves identifying the multiple addictions and assessing each as pieces of the whole problem.  

In some instances, it isn’t possible to treat multiple disorders simultaneously.  For example, a person can be addicted to cocaine and gambling at the same time.   In the case of cocaine and gambling, cocaine addiction should be treated first.  Once the cocaine problem is addressed, the individual is better equipped to address their gambling addiction.

Differences Between AID, Co-Occurring Addiction, and Dual-Diagnosis

Any addiction can overwhelm a person and bring chaos to their lives.  However, when someone struggles with two or more addictions, the results can be devastating. 

Here are the most common addiction disorders and the differences between them:

Dual-diagnosis refers to a combination of mental illness along with a substance use disorder.  Dual-diagnosis differs from AID and co-occurring addiction disorders.  It includes a mental health diagnosis that caused the addiction or is a result of the addiction.  In many cases, it’s difficult to determine which came first.  Dual-diagnosis is also referred to as a co-occurring disorder, not to be confused with co-occurring addiction.  

Co-occurring addiction happens when a person has multiple addictions simultaneously.  For instance, someone is an alcoholic, also uses cocaine and gambles compulsively at the same time. An assessment will determine which addiction is the most severe.

Addiction interaction disorder is the process of one addiction fueling another.  In other words, a person may switch from one addiction to another.  For example, an alcoholic may stop drinking then turn to another compulsive behavior such as overeating.  Cross-addiction is another name for this process.

Consequences of Seeking Escape from Reality

A person’s need to dissociate from emotional discomfort fuels their substance abuse.  Regardless of the substance or behavior involved in their addiction, the motivations are usually the same.  The person needs to feel achieve a sensation of numbness or disconnection.  Their desire or craving for an addictive substance outweighs the negative consequences that occur as a result.

Addiction interaction disorder can wreak havoc on a person’s life in many ways:

  • physical health problems
  • low self-esteem
  • damaged relationships
  • financial trouble
  • job loss
  • family dysfunction  

The best option for overcoming addiction is professional addiction treatment programs.  If you or someone you know needs help with substance abuse disorders, please contact us at New Beginnings today.  One of our representatives can help you choose a treatment program that is right for your needs.

Sources:– Substance Use + Mental Health: Your Guide to Addressing Co-occurring Disorders