anonymous Asks ...
If I was a cocaine addict a long time ago is there ever a chance I will be able to use some drugs (not cocaine or any hard drugs) on a recreational basis? I have not used cocaine for over 5 years now and I confess I wouldn’t mind smoking a joint or having a beer or two every once in a while to take the edge off of things. It’s not a strong desire. If it was like I was craving these things I would be afraid to try them…it’s more like just…why not??? I have played the whole abstinence game for a while but I don’t know if I believe that I am somehow defective for the rest of my life. I feel pretty in control so I think that means I have self control, right?
Jennifer Hamilton Says ...
Wow. Talk about a loaded question! I will do my best to give you an honest, well-thought out, educated answer. First of all, if you were indeed cocaine dependent, you are still cocaine dependent in relation to your brain's reward pathway. Your question of whether you can use recreationally can only definitively be answered by attempting to use recreationally. The danger of doing so is rather severe.
Let me explain. Once you wake up the reward pathway in your brain by using alcohol or marijuana, your Pre-frontal cortex of your brain, where you are making your good decisions and having your ability to show self-control, gets impacted. As little as two beers causes this area to not "light up" or have actiivity in a Positive Emission Topography (PET) scan. This can mean that something that you would not choose to do, like use cocaine or other "hard" drugs all of a sudden can seem like a real good idea.
Not to mention, you are at increased risk of using alcohol or marijuana in an abusive way or becoming dependent on one or both psychologically and especially alcohol physically with continued use. Truth is, any time you use enough of something to cause impairment, you risk some problem either with life, the law, relationships and with higher amounts of frequent use, your health.
The question to me becomes "is it worth all of that risk?" and if the answer to that question is "yes", then doesn't that answer in and off itself indicate that getting "high" or "taking the edge off" holds a bit too much importance for you to risk using.
Have you tried other things that take the edge off? Things such as exercise, meditation, clean diet, fulfilling relationships, physical touch, sex, massage, music, recreational activities, the list goes on and on. Maybe consider seeing a counselor who could help you with your current stressors rather than returning to the use of chemicals.