‘I’m a drug addict; I know I can control my drinking if I want to.’ I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this claim made by someone in early recovery. So many people seem to forget when they first arrive to the community of recovery one very simple thing; alcohol IS a drug- FACT.
Drug by Definition
The word ‘drug’ by definition is- ‘a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.’ So let us think about this. Do you experience any kind of physiological affect when you drink? Need more definitions?
- Physiological- characteristic of or appropriate to an organism’s healthy or normal functioning
- Alcohol- a volatile flammable liquid that is the intoxicating constituent of wine, beer, spirits, and other drinks, and is also used as an industrial solvent and as fuel
So by definition alcohol is an intoxicating, health and function impairing substance. So why do so many people confuse this with an element outside the spectrum of ‘drugs’? Is it the arrogance to believe that because you have been able in the past to only stomach a few drinks once in a while, or don’t like the taste of alcohol? Or is it the assumption that your ‘real problem’ is something you have to smoke or inject to get a desired affect?
The truth is, only the individual can diagnose themselves as a drug addict. It is clearly explained in any fellowship of recovery that you have to determine for yourself the severity of your situation and admit to your affliction. If you need help, there is plenty of literature describing what the fellowship has identified through its own experience as what constitutes an addict. You have to take an honest look at your life, your attitude toward it, and your substance abuse to understand what it is you are dealing with. But once you have decided, there are a lot of people out there prepared to help you.
Admitting to Addiction
Having admitted to your addiction, something you may not understand is that a ‘real deal’ addict is a specific illness. It has been described as a three-prong disease of the mind, body and spirit. Drugs are a symptom of the disease, not the root cause. They are not the problem, they are the ‘solution’ you adopted to a problem you could not yet understand.
Once you understand that, it should be a little easier to appreciate the idea that no matter what drug you use, you are still using! You are continuing to play with fire by pushing the boundaries of your self-control (or lack of) in hopes you will find a way to use ‘successfully’ without suffering more of the consequences you have already faced. Self-deception is a dangerous thing, and the disease of addiction is one that tries to trick you into believing you do not have it.
Trial and Error
Personally, I have subjected myself to this by trial and error. As someone who struggled with addiction to opiates, I tried to drink successfully. I convinced myself that if I had stayed away from using drugs and drinking for long enough, my new clarity would keep me in check when I finally opted to drink again. What I found out were two common conclusions:
- You drink more than ever…
If you are an addict and alcoholic like me, you will discover through an attempt to drink successfully that your craving to fill the void with drugs can quickly substitute itself with alcohol. Many find that they drink more than ever, and they drink ceaselessly and chronically.
- You drink until you have to use…
After I drank alcohol long enough and frequently enough, I quickly came to the realization that this was not good enough. As much as I could drink and numb myself, the craving for more and more came on, and the drugs were more attractive than ever. Drunk I quickly forgot about the reservations I had and I was getting high again within a few days.
Experience and Conclusion
This is my personal experience, and I cannot guarantee this conclusion for anyone else. What I can say is that if you are anything like the type of addict I am, you will NEVER be able to drink ‘successfully’. Because again, the drug is not the problem- it is an ineffective ‘solution’. The drink is just a different ‘solution’ to that growing problem, and unless I am prepared to work a plan of action and honesty I will never fill the void with drinking and drugging.
If one needs more evidence, they need only speak to any of the thousands of addicts and alcoholics in recovery. It has been hard learned through the experiences of many that addicts and alcoholics of our type cannot afford to believe that their will power will defeat one drug as long as they stay away from the other. A drug is a drug, is a drug!
The disease of addiction is cunning, baffling, and powerful. Many people remain trapped by the turmoil of addiction based on the notion that they can drink alcohol, as long as they stay away from heroin, cocaine, and other narcotics. They may never truly recover, or they may reach lower and more depressing degradation in attempt to stay alive.
Too many drug addicts do not recover because they believe they can drink alcohol successfully, and they don’t take the opportunity to understand what it truly means to be an addict, but there are so many opportunities out there. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135