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Addiction and abstinence - does it have to be all or nothing ?

Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 1:00 am
by Anchor Moy
People who have seriously abused drugs and alcohol are often told that their only hope in beating addiction lies in complete abstinence. Despite the fact that I have no expertise apart from personal experience, i have always thought that this is an extreme, even sadistic attitude. People take drugs for different reasons, all drugs are not the same, and we do not all have the same needs.
Total abstinence may save some people, and even make them happy, but one-size does not fit all IMO. That's why I thought this article had some interesting things to say:
Let's Abandon the Assumption That If You've Been Addicted to a Drug, Total Abstinence Is Essential
They repeat the words in chorus during almost every Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting I’ve attended: “A drug is a drug is a drug.” It means that if you’ve used one drug, experienced problems with it and quit, you can’t use any other drug without problems.

But is this true? It’s one of those comforting mantras that’s rarely challenged in some circles. But there’s a kernel of danger contained within those words, waiting to unleash itself on people most at risk.

Marijuana or alcohol or heroin, for example, produce quite different effects in our brains. Their use fulfills different purposes for people, many of whom might have trouble finding physical or mental health care otherwise (although most people can use drugs or alcohol without major problems). We have tools to help determine where we fall on that spectrum.

The concept of “a drug is a drug…” borders on pseudoscience, with little evidence to support it. In fact, preliminary research indicates these ideas might actually cause more harm for people who have experienced substance use disorders (SUDs)... ... essential/