Abstinence Is the Most Effective Strategy in Substance Use Treatment

While anything done to reduce drug use can be a step in the right direction, complete abstinence is considered the safest and most effective strategy during addiction treatment in Princeton Junction, whether your addiction involves alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, opioid painkillers, and/or other prescription drugs. Attempts to control use instead of stopping completely are rarely successful in someone who has developed an addiction. Continuing alcohol/drug use is always risky:

  • Drug use may lead to serious medical and psychiatric consequences.
  • Continuing to buy and use illegal drugs can have legal ramifications.
  • There is always a risk of life-threatening reactions to drug use.

Because the stakes are so high, it is crucial to avoid the temptation to drink or use even in moderation. However, ending your use of all other intoxicants is also a valuable step in your recovery. Though many people resist the idea of quitting alcohol and marijuana when they have caused no serious problems in the past, there are many compelling reasons to be completely abstinent of all substances during addiction treatment:

  • Any intoxicant can cause cravings to use your drug of choice. Many people use other drugs to counteract the negative side effects of drug use, or to cope with coming down. If you’ve used substances like alcohol, marijuana or opiates before, during or after using your drug of choice, using them now can send a strong reminder to your brain that leads to cravings and eventually relapse.
  • Other intoxicants can impede your brain’s recovery from long-term drug use. During addiction treatment, your brain will begin to heal from the neurological damage that may have been caused by substance abuse. Because any mood-altering substance can affect your brain’s neurotransmitters and biochemical functions, complete abstinence offers the fastest, safest and most effective way to help your brain recover.
  • Any intoxicant can reduce your inhibitions. Using any intoxicant will loosen your willpower and make it harder for you to resist temptation. The disinhibiting effects of alcohol are particularly notorious and can cause serious problems for anyone in recovery.
  • Other intoxicants can lead to substitute addictions. Now that you’re no longer using your drug of choice, you may be tempted to seek the highs of other substances, which can lead to further drug problems. Again, this is especially true of alcohol, which is legal, socially acceptable and available everywhere. A dependency to another substance will complicate your problems and dramatically slow your recovery.

Not everyone feels the need to become completely abstinent during addiction treatment, but doing so can accelerate your recovery. If you need help staying free of intoxicants during your program, speak with one of our addiction specialists here in Princeton Junction.


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