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Can Alcoholics Have Other Addictions? (And Recover?)

Many people who have an alcohol use disorder (also called alcoholism) also have other addictions. This can confuse a person who wants to get sober. Sometimes, people will say they are addicted to alcohol but then rationalize using other drugs. This is because people with substance use disorders tend to use one drug as a substitute for another. For most people who identify as alcoholics, total sobriety is the goal. It's the healthiest way to put all substances in your past, focusing on your recovery and future.

Alcoholics and Co-Occurring Addictions

Alcohol use disorder is the compulsive consumption of alcohol despite adverse consequences. Individuals struggling with alcoholism can also be susceptible to developing other addiction medicine, known as a co-occurring or concurrent addiction, which involves two or more addictive behaviors or substance dependencies within the same individual.

Co-occurring addictions can include drugs or behaviors like gambling.

Common Co-Occurring Addictions with Alcoholism

It's not uncommon for alcoholics to experience co-occurring addictions. Individuals with alcohol use disorder might turn to other substances, such as illicit drugs or prescription medications, to cope with their challenges and stressors.

Some people are more susceptible to certain process addictions, also known as behavior addictions, such as gambling, sex, or compulsive overeating. These co-occurring addictions can exacerbate an addicted person's overall health and well-being. Therapy and treatment can help people learn to break the chains of any addiction, one day at a time.

Alcohol Use Disorder is an Addiction

The co-occurrence of alcoholism and other addictions can often be attributed to shared vulnerabilities and underlying factors. Alcohol use disorder is an addiction, and people with one addiction can be vulnerable to others.

Co-occurring disorders are pretty common among people who misuse alcohol. Genetics, environmental influences, and mental health can contribute to a person's susceptibility to developing multiple addictive behaviors. People who have lived through trauma are more likely to use multiple drugs. Genetics and these other factors can drive individuals to seek relief or pleasure through various substances or behaviors, including alcohol.

Treating The Disease/Disorder

Addressing co-occurring addictions among alcoholics requires a comprehensive and integrated treatment approach. Treating alcohol use disorder alone may not lead to successful recovery if other addictive behaviors are left unaddressed.

Integrated treatment involves recognizing and addressing the interconnected nature of these addictions. In treating the disease, people in recovery begin to understand their triggers and motivations. People can also get therapy to help them recognize factors that contribute to their addictions and change how they react to triggers. This might include cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, support groups, and medical interventions.

The Road to Recovery

Treating co-occurring addictions involves not only addressing the addictive behaviors themselves but also working on mental health. People in recovery make many rapid changes, usually upending their lives to get sober.

With their new lifestyle, they'll need social support, better coping mechanisms, and overall improved quality of life. Addiction medicine has known that support networks are crucial for people who want to stay sober. Addiction professionals can tailor interventions to address these complexities and empower individuals to recover from addictive behaviors.

Many people in recovery live rewarding lives with the help of peer support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Staying humble and focused on recovery can help a person achieve lasting sobriety.

Recovering From Addiction

Because people struggling with alcoholism can indeed have other addictions, whether they involve substances or behaviors, treatment centers usually ask clients to abstain from all addictive substances.

Co-occurring addictions are often rooted in shared vulnerabilities. For many people, "a drug is a drug is a drug." While alcohol may be a drug of choice for you, nothing stops you from trying another substance and becoming addicted to it, too.

Recovering from addiction is a new lifestyle full of possibilities. It doesn't happen all at once, but a day at a time.

We're here to help you start on that journey and find success. Get in touch to learn more about our programs and how we can help.



Read Full Bio
Mark G
Mark Gladden brings both personal and professional experience to his role as co-founder of Present Moments Recovery. Now in long-term recovery himself after struggling with addiction for years, Mark understands firsthand the challenges men face in achieving and maintaining sobriety. It was this insight, combined with a desire to help others, that led Mark to establish Present Moments Recovery.

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