One of the most common fears of people addicted to drugs or alcohol is that their current state of addiction means that they’re condemned to a lifetime of addiction. The nature of addiction still isn’t perfectly clear and defined by science – it’s only in the last couple of decades that it’s been defined as a disease rather than a moral failing. For many people, their addiction to alcohol or drugs means that they need to always be careful with the choices they make in their lives to avoid relapse.
However, there is hope for people with Substance Use Disorder (the diagnostic term for a drug or alcohol addiction). You don’t have to face a lifetime of struggle. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the nature of addiction and how sobriety can look for the rest of your life.
The “Addictive Personality” – Is it Fact or Fiction?
The recovery community is often split into two camps: those who believe that addiction is lifelong and that some people naturally have “addictive personalities” and those who believe that individuals who complete substance abuse treatment don’t automatically seek out a “safer” addiction.
The truth often falls somewhere in the middle. It’s true that for many people, moderating their substance use, such as having a glass of wine at dinner instead of the whole bottle, is impossible and can trigger a relapse. In many cases, abstinence is the only way to avoid a relapse. Using or drinking in moderation can be playing with fire for many people. But, just because you quit one substance, it doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly going to develop an addiction to another one, like shopping or gambling.
The Science Behind the Addictive Personality Theory
It’s true that genetics plays a role in whether a person will become addicted to drugs or alcohol – some people may simply be more predisposed to addiction. For example, some studies noted that people with SUD may have naturally lower levels of dopamineand therefore are more susceptible to drug or alcohol dependence.
The model of Alcoholics Anonymous centers around complete abstinence, and, because it was a pioneering and successful model of getting people sober, the belief that complete abstinence is the only way has been a difficult viewpoint for the addiction treatment community to shake. The AA model views all drugs and substances as the same, including ones that may be used for opiate addiction, like Suboxone. However, the AA model has a lot of value, which is why it’s such an enduring one.
Abstinence, for example, removes a lot of the risk that someone will relapse or develop an addiction to another substance. And, the group support aspect of AA cannot be overstated. Sober support is invaluable for people in recovery, from their first week sober throughout their life. In fact, a big part of recovery maintenance is developing a strong support network.
Addiction Recovery is Possible – We Can Help
You don’t have to face a lifetime of addiction. There is hope, and we will address this topic further in the second of our two-part series. Baystate Recovery Centers offers comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment, including medical detox, intensive outpatient recovery, and relapse prevention strategies. We also offer family therapy to help you rebuild relationships. Contact us today for a confidential assessment of your rehabilitation options.