Is Complete Abstinence from Use of Paychoactive Substances Necessary for Recovery?

by Jan Edward Williams - Date: 2007-01-19 - Word Count: 310 Share This!

Can a sober alcoholic in recovery who has no history of abuse of marijuana, use marijuana without risk of relapse into alcohol use or of developing other problems. Can a heroin addict in recovery (abstinent from heroin use) who has no history of problems with use of alcohol, use alcohol without risk of relapse into heroin use or of developing other problems? The general rule in abstinence based treatment models in the U.S., usually Twelve Step based programs, is that once an individual has developed an addiction to one class of substances, assuming the individual's goal is abstinence from use of that class of substance, that individual can no longer safely use any other drug (including alcohol), regardless of history of use of the other drug.

Here are some of the reasons for the position that complete abstinence from all psychoactive substances is necessary for recovery from addiction:

1. Use of any drug will result in impaired judgment (may lead back to drug of choice (DOC)).

2. Substitution-the person may develop a new addiction.

3. Use of any drug will have an adverse effect on already damaged neurotransmitter systems

in the reward pathway of the brain.

4. The resulting high from the new substance will not be the effect of the person's DOC (not

the high desired)

5. Recovery is an all or nothing proposition; either you're sober or clean or you're not.

6. Use of the substance will undoubtedly occur in the company of "slippery" people and in

"slippery" places, causing cravings and possible relapse ("slippery" meaning dangerous to

abstinence or recovery).

7. Use will result in loss of 12 Step or other abstinence supports because the person will have

to lie, keep secret the drug use from 12 Step members. This is also dangerous because it

involves a return to old behaviors of dishonesty, etc.

8. Use will have an adverse effect on spirituality (addicts and alcoholics have made their

substances a Higher Power).

Related Tags: recovery, abstinence, complete abstinence in recvery, relapse factors

Jan Edward Williams, MS, JD, CCDC, LCADC.

In addition to my law degree, I have a master of science degree in pastoral counseling, and am a CCDC, or Maryland Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor and an LCADC, or Maryland Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (same level as an LCPC). I have personal and professional experience to aid me in helping persons with alcohol and other drug problems. I am in recovery myself, with over 29 years of continuous sobriety, and have been working in the drug and alcohol field for 27 years. I have been Director of Loyola College in Maryland's Alcohol and Drug Education and Support Services for 17 years. I also teach both undergraduate and graduate courses in substance abuse for the Psychology Department at Loyola.

Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles

© The article above is copyrighted by it's author. You're allowed to distribute this work according to the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs license.

Recent articles in this category:

Most viewed articles in this category: