There is a common misconception among people new to a program of addiction recovery. The idea that you only have to stop doing the substance that made your life unmanageable. People with alcohol use disorders will convince themselves that they can still use certain drugs, for example marijuana. Others recovering from substance use disorder sometimes think it would be OK to have some alcohol. After all, marijuana probably didn’t precipitate losing everything. And you may not have pawned all your belongings to buy a bottle of vodka.

If you are new to a program (i.e. Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous) you have probably heard cautions about using any mind-altering substance. Those who you speak with at meetings have likely informed you that using anything can surely lead you back to your drug of choice (DOC). Even still, many newcomers do not heed that sage advice. Evidence that some new members are not quite ready to surrender and follow direction. Unable to give up the illusion of control.

Please be advised, cross addiction is a real thing. If you have become addicted to one substance, you have the ability to form an unhealthy relationship with another. What’s is more, people in recovery who test their strengths with other substances almost always go back to their DOC, by-and-by. So, if you are new to recovery and are willing to do whatever it takes, please refrain from anything that carries the potential for misuse.

Listening to Recovery Peers

Anyone who looks around the room at 12-Step meeting, will likely see at least one person who thought they could still use a certain drug or drink alcohol. What started as mere substance flirtation morphed into a serious problem, probably involving the substance that they sought help for in the first place. And a full-blown relapse ensues. The fact that this hypothetical relapser of ours is in your line of sight, means that they managed to find their way back to the “rooms.” But, please be advised that many relapsers do not ever make it back.

With that in mind, abstaining from every mind-altering substance is not only important to your program—it could save your life. If you are unsure about something, such a prescription drug, talk to your sponsor or someone else you feel comfortable with. You may have been prescribed something that could compromise your program without you even being aware. People who self-detox will sometimes see a doctor complaining of anxiety. Unless said person informs their physician of their problem with substances, a benzodiazepine might be prescribed. Given that many alcoholics don’t have any history of substance abuse, they may not know that benzodiazepines are addictive. Continued use could result in a relapse to alcohol.

Those of you attending AA meetings have likely heard that drinking alcohol is a sure ticket back to “dopeland.” One may be able to moderate their consumption for a time, but that rarely lasts. Those who are inebriated are also more likely to convince themselves that a little of a certain drug wouldn’t hurt. One way or another, people with any form of addiction must abstain from anything that causes feelings of euphoria.

Addiction is Addiction

Most people seeking the gifts of addiction recovery do not have a background in medicine or psychiatry. It is rare for even people whose lives have been turned upside down by drugs and alcohol to understand the nature of the disease. Addiction experts still grasp to understand certain facets, after all. The good news is that you do not need to be an addiction professional to find and achieve long-term recovery. All you need to do is surrender and be willing and able to follow direction. After doing so, for a time, it will then be up to you to pay the collective wisdom of recovery forward to the newcomer. Just as it was passed along to you by the fellowship.

For those who are still “out there,” living in active addiction, this information will be more useful at a later date. Perhaps you have had enough and until now all your efforts to recover on your own have not been fruitful? Do not be discouraged, a significant number of people in recovery today needed a little extra support by way of addiction treatment. Please contact Immersion Recovery Center, we can equip you with the tools and skills to achieve long-term recovery by way of the 12-Steps.