How To Know When It's Safe To Drink Again?
anonymous Asks ...
I got sober 11 years ago after a messed up youth spent doing a lot of drugs and drinking every night. I ran away from home when I was 16 and I fell in with a crowd that just did a lot of drugs so I did too and then eventually they made me depressed and anxious and I had to stop so I stopped completely. It was hard to stop at the time but now I never think about using anymore. Now I am in a totally different place in my life. I am engaged to be married, I have a good job and good friends. I don't ever crave or anything but I still remember all the warnings from NA and AA that I could never drink again. What I think though is that I am not the same person I was back then and I am not sure this total abstinence thing is necessary or fits me anymore. How can I know if it is safe for me to start drinking again?
Florence Cameron Says ...
Dear, "how can I know if it is safe to start drinking again?"
Running away at 16 and experiencing 'a lot' of drug use must have been a confusing time in your life. To stop using completely is amazing and rarely done. Huffington Post Oct 3, 2012 announced that 1 in 10 US adults has recovered from drug or alcohol addiction according to a report by the partnership at Drugfree.org and the New York State office about the holism in substance abuse services.
After 11 years probably one might forget about 'the depression and anxiety' and about how hard it was to stop using. Trying to justify using again safely, after all, is part of the disease: DENIAL. It appears logical that time may heal addiction, however there is a fatal flaw to this concept.
Thinking that merely time away from use would cure one from addiction is scientifically, biologically, and empirically wrong. Scientific Research and overwhelming evidence has proven that addiction is a brain disease.
That areas in the brain have been changed to a point that is irreversible. This is organic, biological changes that time cannot heal. Once one crosses the threshold of addiction there is no return. There is no cure for addiction, it is a life long disease.
It is not uncommon for those with years in recovery to convince themselves that they can now safely return to using their drugs of choice, as they are now armed with skills recognizing triggers and cravings. Unfortunately, there is no overwhelming evidence that proves controlled using works. I have never had a client, or heard of anyone reporting that they had returned to using alcohol and/or drugs and had no further negative consequences. No one has reported that their relationships became better and life and health was good. The only stories I hear from my clients and in the media are stories of relapse and the painful stories of people returning to using and losing everything, yet again, puzzled and disgusted with themselves knowing where it would lead them.
I would say that you are ahead my friend, and the new fiancee and friends in your life are your lucky stars as well as you are theirs. Statistics prove that the disease wins more than not and had you not been able to stop when you did would you have survived. Perhaps you may want to see a professional to help you challenge these negative voices. The critical-inner voices can separate us from taking right action and instead work against us, undermining our chances for success and happiness. Hope you make good choices and decisions.
Jeannie Cameron, LMHC