What is a Hybrid Addiction?

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For a very long time now, professionals have fought to find the best way to help addicts overcome the nature of their addiction. A main fear of those involved with helping addicted people is that they fear the individual will switch their addiction to another drug or behavior. Addictive behavior is in definition: a struggle with impulsivity and compulsive actions. When an addict seeks to end an addiction to a particular drug or behavior, it is imperative to conquer the compulsiveness and impulsiveness of the natural behavior. It is very hard to do so completely, and this is why "drug jumping" has always been a major concern.

In recent times however, many are figuring out that there is something even worse to be wary of. As addiction can involve many different substances such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin, meth and a long list of drugs, they can also involve many different behaviors such as sex, gambling, shopping, and eating. With advancing studies, it has been found that multiple addictions not only increase the likelihood of a recovering addict switching to a different substance or behavior of abuse, but there is a much higher likelihood of what is called a hybrid addiction.

Hybrid addiction has actually been occurring far longer than it has been realized. For example, it has been common in the past for a drug addict to use multiple drugs or substances to maintain a high. In the past, this has been considered a form of dual-addiction. In some cases, alcohol is used together with cocaine to create a euphoric, blurry, and bubbly high. Aside from the obvious mixed effects involved with abusing a depressant and a stimulant together, something else happens in the body which makes this combination even more deadly and out of control.

When consumed together, cocaine and alcohol are metabolized in the body to produce another chemical known as cocaethylene. This new drug acts as an amplifier to both the effects of the alcohol and cocaine and is extremely toxic and hazardous in the body. What happens over time as cocaine or alcohol abusers mix the two drugs is that the body becomes dependent on not just one of the substances, but rather, the body becomes dependent on the combination of the two; or in other words becomes addicted to the cocaethylene. This is a hybrid addiction.

Upon closer study, it has been found that hybrid addictions can also include a combination of a substance and a behavior. The way the addiction works is nearly a mirror image as the way the alcohol and cocaine mixture produces an addiction of the by-product, cocaethylene. Overtime, the drug, which amplifies whichever addictive behavior is abused with it, produces an addiction that craves the combination or the combined feeling of both addictions mashed together. A person who uses cocaine or heroin and indulges in a sex addiction will soon not be happy with just using cocaine or heroin or just indulging in sexual acts. It will have to be both, together, or the result of an unfulfilled desire will in turn spur the person to try harder to attain both simultaneously.

As can be imagined, this makes it very hard to treat a hybrid addiction. It must be realized first that a person is a hybrid addict, which can be two-fold more difficult--especially if the combination is a substance and a behavior (some do not even realize they are addicted to a particular behavior). Then, both addictions must be treated at the same time in order to ensure that both addictions are handled and rehabilitated properly. But it's important to add, as many professionals are finding, that in order to have the greatest chance of success, the core of the addiction (meaning the compulsive tendencies) must be brought under control.

For more information on our addiction treatment programs and therapeutic approaches, call toll free at: 800-960-5041. Florida Center for Recovery offers residential drug and alcohol rehab treatment through 12-Step and Non 12-Step Programs.

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