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Dear Long-Time Recreational Drug User

Comments (3)
answered 04:13 PM EST, Thu November 29, 2012
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anonymous anonymous
I live in Des Moines. I am a long time recreational drug user, smoker and social drinker. I am not addicted to anything other than cigarettes but I ingest some sort of intoxicating substance pretty much every day. I have just turned 40 and I have had also just had a health scare so I made a promise to myself to stop smoking and drinking and drugs. Unfortunately I am finding it a lot harder than I thought I would. I have been trying for about 2 months and I have probably only abstained on half of the past 60 nights…so not exactly a great track record so far. I think I could use some help with this but other than rehab (which seems like over-kill) or AA (which does not fit me at all) I am not really sure where to look for help with this. I would welcome suggestions from you about what type of assistance fits someone in my position.

Florence Cameron Says...

Dear Des Moines,

I hear that you want to stop smoking, drinking and drugs and that is commendable of you. Your recent health scare at your age has ignited a desire for good health. However, trying to stop everything all at once is probably not realistic. Many of my clients’ prefer to wait until they have their alcohol and drug dependence abated before they take on the task of stopping cigarettes.

Your best efforts have not produced the results you want. The mere fact that you are finding it hard to stop by yourself tells me that you have built up dependence to your drug use. You weren't specific as to the quantity you use in drugs or drink, but the fact that you stated you use "some form of intoxicating substance daily" reveals dependency along with the fact that you can't stop on your own.

I know you don't refer or see yourself as having an addiction; however I would like to give you the criteria for substance dependence as set forth by the DSM-IV-TR, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorders. This manual is governed by WHO, the World Health Organization and all healthcare providers, world-wide, use this criterion in determining diagnoses. The following is the criterion for substance dependence and is referring to drugs or alcohol and any chemicals that has mind or mood altering affects. If you agree to experiencing 3 or more of the following symptoms within the last 12 months, then any treatment provider would diagnose substance dependence:

  1. Continued use of alcohol even when significant problems related to its use have developed.
  2. Increased tolerance or need for increased amounts of substance to attain the desired effect.
  3. Withdrawal symptoms with decreased use.
  4. Unsuccessful efforts to decrease use on own.
  5. Increase in time spent in activities to obtain substances.
  6. Withdrawal from social and recreational activities because of using, being intoxicated, or withdrawing
  7. And continued use of substance even with awareness of physical or psychological problems encountered by the extent of substance use.

As far as what to do from here is challenging. Some people get so sick and tired of being sick and tired that there is nothing they wouldn't do to get sober. You, on the other hand state you don't want to go into a rehab or attend AA. The truth is that these venues of sobriety are reliable, available and affordable. A rehab will help you detox safely while being in the midst of others going through the same experience. This is powerful because it helps to normalize your situation. You will hear stories of other's and their personal battles as well as learning invaluable coping skills that will help you substitute healthy habits while breaking these life threatening habits. The people of AA, NA, CA etc. are made up of people just like you, that are trying to stay sober. These fellowships of like individuals keep their sobriety by giving back to others, helping others to sobriety. Distorted beliefs and perceptions can get in our way.

Whatever negative beliefs you hold about rehab or the 12-Step Program may be holding you back from getting the help you need. Getting sober is about you and you must want sobriety before it can work. Substance dependence is addiction and Addiction is a brain disease and trying to do this yourself is not viable at this point, you need professionals to help you. 

Please see your doctor and be honest with him/her about the substances you take and let them help you work out what would be best for you. 

I wish you all the best in your endeavors.

Jeannie Cameron, LMHC


Naples, FL

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