Addiction recovery programs often have only one focus: abstinence. This means staying 100% sober, 100% of the time. The reason for this is simple: drug addicts and alcoholics are physically unable to control their drinking/drug use. The problem all boils down to this powerlessness over drugs and alcohol. So, the solution is to never use them in the first place.
Is Abstinence the Only Addiction Recovery?
Is this an overly simplistic way of looking at addiction and addiction recovery? Yes and no. It all depends on how you define addiction. If addiction means just having a problem with drugs and alcohol, then you may have more options than abstinence. However, if it means a physical, mental and spiritual lack of power over drugs and alcohol, there’s only one addiction recovery program for you.
What Addiction Is
Being an addict has nothing to do with how much you drink, how often you get high, or which drugs you did. Being an addict means only the following things:
- You are not able to control or moderate your drinking/drug use
- You are not able to stay sober on willpower alone
- When you are sober, you feel restless, irritable and discontented
These three things are the physical, mental and spiritual traits of addiction. In order to recovery, an addiction recovery program must address each of them. You feel restless, irritable and discontented when you are not drunk or high. This is why you cannot stay sober on willpower alone. So, you drink/drug and are unable to moderate your drinking/drug use. Since the problem comes down to your lack of control, your addiction recovery must start with abstinence.
What Addiction Is Not
Now that we’ve set some standards for what addiction is, here are some things that it is not:
- Being physically dependent on a drug
- Suffering consequences from your drug use
A person can get prescribed painkillers and then become physically dependent on them. They can go through detox and be free of their dependence. But this does not make them an addict.
A person can suffer consequences, get DUIs, go to jail, etc. However, they can learn from their mistakes and control their behavior. So, they are not an addict.
Finally, a person can go through a “phase” of partying and hard drinking. Often, this is just a part of youth or their college experience. At some point, they may grow up and stop partying. Therefore, they are not an addict.
Addiction Recovery: For Addicts
In conclusion, we can see that abstinence is the only real form of addiction recovery. This is because addiction recovery is for addicts. And addicts need to stay sober at all costs. Hard drinkers and people who are just physically dependent are not addicts. Therefore, they do not need addiction recovery. There are all kinds of solutions for them and their problems. For example, there are programs such as Moderation Management for people who simply drink too much. Or, they can go to therapy and resolve their issues there.
For the true and real addict, there is no moderation. There is no therapy that will cure them. There is only abstinence.