The Attraction of Intoxicants
Intoxicants provide a temporary escape from the problems of day to day life. This is why people have turned to these substances throughout history. The mind altering capabilities of such chemicals are particularly attractive to some individuals. Their obsession with them can lead eventually to addiction. Those who manage to break away from such substance abuse may be tempted to experiment with other intoxicants. This is never a good idea.
An intoxicant refers to any chemical that temporarily diminishes mental or physical control. The most commonly used intoxicants include:
Justifications for Using Intoxicants in Recovery
Those individuals who have managed to beat an addiction can be tempted to try other drugs. They will justify this with the reasoning that they have never had any difficulties with these other substances. So for instance, the alcoholic may have tried marijuana in the past but never had any problem with control. They might therefore assume that it is perfectly safe for them to use this drug in recovery. Such thinking is highly dangerous because it is likely to lead people back into the hell of addiction. It can also get in the way of their attempts to build a successful life in sobriety.
Drug of Choice
Addicts tend to be attracted to one type of drug over all others – this is known as their drug of choice. There may be many reasons for why the individual decides to focus on a certain drug. It could be due to the environment they grew up in, or it may be because they prefer the particular effects of that drug. No matter what the drug of choice the addict will always be attempting to alter their mental functioning.
So long as the drug of choice is available the individual will always prefer it. They may use other substances, but not to the same extent as their favorite chemical. It is only when their drug of choice is not available that they will rely more heavily on these other drugs. So an alcoholic may not particularly like marijuana but they will have no problem abusing it if there is nothing else available. This means then that just because they’ve never abused a substance in the past it does not mean that they are safe to use it in the future.
As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. This is what happens when people substitute one addiction for another. They are continuing an old pattern of behavior and the only difference is that they are changing the focus of their attention. The likelihood is that they will lose control over these other intoxicants just like they did with their former addiction. Even if they do manage to keep control, it does appear to be an unreasonably high risk to take. Addiction substitution is a slippery slope because it can so easily lead to relapse.
The Dangers of Intoxicants in Recovery
There are many reasons for why intoxicants are a bad idea in recovery including:
* Even mild intoxication lowers people’s inhibitions. This means that they become willing to do things that they wouldn’t do when they are sober. Intoxication means loss of control and the risk of relapsing back to the former addiction will be high.
* Happiness in recovery is about building a life where there is no need for mind-altering substances in order to cope. It will not be possible to build such a life while people continue to use intoxicants.
* Taking intoxicants usually means spending time with other people who do the same. There can be a tremendous amount of social pressure to abuse these substances. Those who are successful in recovery surround themselves with the right people; substance abusers are not the right people.
* There is debate about the dangers of marijuana but there is no doubting that it is a gateway drug that can lead to more serious chemicals.
* Those who wish to follow a recovery program such as the 12 Steps will be expected to remain free of all intoxicants. If they fail to do this they will be unable to get the most from this program.
Building a Life in Sobriety
The word sobriety is used in recovery to mean more than just giving up a particular addiction. It involves building a new life where there is no longer any need to run away from problems. Those who are successful find that they can soberly handle every situation that life sends their way. They enjoy living life on life’s terms an so there is no wish to alter their thinking using chemicals. In order to achieve this sobriety the individual needs to avoid all intoxicants. If they do not it may mean that they will never find true happiness.
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