The focus in drug addiction recovery has mainly focused on total abstinence in sober living. Individuals who struggle with addiction or alcoholism understand one of the primary goals every day is to avoid drinking or using drugs. The approach works for many thousands of people yet some believe total abstinence to be too extreme. Explore the idea of moderation as a viable option to overcoming addiction and what it means for individuals who are struggling in sobriety.
Substance abuse treatment experts explain to people when it comes to addiction, the ideal way to overcome the condition is complete abstinence. While some believe it is less possible for an addict to function in society using occasionally, versus not at all, controlled drinking program successes are the usually the exception, not the rule for the following reasons:
- Cravings play a significant role in addiction. The person with addiction is no longer physically dependent yet seeing the drug or hearing someone talk about using is enough to trigger a relapse. The first few years of recovery leave people especially vulnerable to relapse triggers.
- Indulgence of cravings to have ‘just one more’ does not help cravings subside. Cravings grow stronger while rationalizations have become more difficult to ignore.
- No matter how long the person has been clean, vigilance about ‘slipping’ or relapse must be taken. The first drink, puff, smoke or other ‘just one more’ experience will inevitably lead to behaviors conducive with addiction the following day and move towards active addiction (the slippery slope).
Harm reduction techniques suggest attempts to moderate one’s drug or alcohol use are particularly seductive to individuals with addiction. The reality is few persons with addiction who enter treatment are excited about doing so. Many prefer to limit the number of drinks in a session in order to control drug or alcohol use. Most have tried multiple times in hopes of avoiding giving up drug of choice for rehab. Rehab is almost always viewed as the option of last resort in spite of consequences for inability to manage drinking or drug use.
The inability to moderate use of substances is one of the main signs of addiction and a need for treatment. If possible, a person may be able to stop drug use and abuse and have ‘just one more,’ but most people with addiction have years of use in the past which makes having a ‘normal’ relationship with drugs or alcohol highly unlikely.
The potential benefits of enjoying a drink or smoke now and then can be far outweighed by the risks of overdose, accident or a return to active addiction. For every person who is able to accomplish this feat, there are many other stories of those who are sober for years then attempt moderation and become lost to addiction or die as a result.
The risks of moderation far outweigh the potential risks and complications. If you are struggling to reduce or quit the amount of drugs or alcohol being used, the Villa can help. Let us guide you towards resources and tools to help you find a new way of healthy living.