An issue that adolescents have with recovery is replacing the drugs, alcohol, or other self-harming behavior with positive behaviors. One fear is that the adolescent will change or switch addictions, this is known as cross addiction. For example, an unhealthy behavior that has to be addressed is sexual promiscuity. One of the biggest distractions that teens use to not focus on themselves is to focus on each other. Switching from one partner to the next can become just as much as a rush as using a substance. In this case sex and the partners they use become the addiction. Another example of cross addiction occurs when an adolescent gets clean and sober from mind-altering substances and develops a gambling habit. In gambling the person can experience the same adrenaline rush that the substance once gave them. Both of these behaviors can be very destructive for any adolescent in recovery and may eventually lead to relapse. Some other examples of cross addiction are: cutting, internet, video games, shopping, energy drinks and unhealthy eating habits.

The goal of every adolescent in recovery should be to live a happy, healthy, and productive life. Negative influences are always going to be a part of society, but through the self – esteem building process of treatment the adolescent will learn to make better choices. Education for adolescents is a key component. It is important to educate adolescents in the disease concept of addiction as well as relapse prevention. It is important to raise adolescents awareness of their self – harming escape behaviors. In addition, it is important to give adolescents healthy alternatives/hobbies to negative behaviors, such as: doing well in school, playing a sport, exercise, eating healthy, music or art. These alternatives will lower the adolescents likelihood of using negative coping mechanisms, and decreases the likelihood of cross addiction and eventually relapse. Getting adolescents involved in a 12-step component support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous is essential. Working with a sponsor to help relate to another person that has already made the changes necessary to live a positive life is equally as important. Dealing with current issues and educating adolescents on possible cross addictions gives them the best chance at success and reaching their fullest potential.
Brian Wildason

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