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Can I Continue to Use Less Harmful Substances?

Many people enter into treatment believing that their problem is from one single drug. While entirely willing to stop using their drug of choice, they may be unwilling to give up all mind and mood-altering chemicals. Addiction, however, is not a substance-specific disease. If we are to overcome addiction and discover a happy, joyous, and free life in sobriety, we cannot continue using other drugs, even ones we believe are less harmful.

Discontinuing to use one problem substance while continuing to use other drugs will inevitably lead to one of two outcomes: our new drug of choice will become just as problematic, or we will quickly return to our previous drug of choice. This occurs because addiction does not arise from one particular substance, but from the way the brain responds to mind and mood-altering chemicals. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, “Most drugs affect the brain’s ‘reward circuit’ by flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. This reward system controls the body’s ability to feel pleasure and motivates a person to repeat behaviors needed to thrive, such as eating and spending time with loved ones. This overstimulation of the reward circuit causes the intensely pleasurable ‘high’ that can lead people to take a drug again and again.” Therefore, any pleasurable “high” caused by substances can lead to addiction and consequential powerlessness and unmanageability over one’s life.

Men and women suffering from addiction have specific mental, physical, and spiritual differences from moderate users. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous explains, “All these, and many others, have one symptom in common: they cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. This phenomenon, as we have suggested, may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity. It has never been, by any treatment with which we are familiar, permanently eradicated. The only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence.” This concept of the “physical allergy” also extends to drugs. For example, a person addicted to heroin may think that they are capable of drinking in moderation or smoking marijuana. However, these substances trigger the physical allergy, and soon the individual has once again lost control and will likely return to heroin. Our addiction does not extend to one substance and not others. If we are to overcome addiction and live free from the suffering it causes, we must embrace a life of complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

Your life can become one of happiness, joyousness, and freedom in sobriety. You can make the decision to seek help now and begin the rewarding journey of recovery from addiction and alcoholism. At Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, the highest quality behavioral health and addictions specialists come together with spiritual guides and holistic experts to address addiction from every possible angle. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431