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You’ve got a drinking problem – so why can’t you smoke a joint every now and again to take the edge off…or maybe you’ve got a problem with pills or cocaine, can’t you have a few social glasses of wine at dinner every once in a while?

While some people do manage to use and not abuse other substances during the treatment and recovery phases, if you’re serious about quitting for real you won’t tempt fate with actions that only increase your risk of relapse.

Not convinced? Well, here are 4 great reasons to avoid using any mind altering drugs or alcohol during treatment and recovery:

Cortical Disinhibition

Fact is – your decision making probably doesn’t get any better once you get drunk or high.

A lot of drugs and alcohol cause cortical dysfunction; basically they reduce the functioning and effectiveness of the pre frontal cortex, which is the area of the brain responsible for decision making.

And since it’s hard enough to avoid triggers and deal with cravings with all systems working as they should – it’s probably not a good idea to intentionally dumb-down.

Increased Cravings

Once you get drunk or high on one substance you’re more likely to experience intensified cravings for your primary substance of abuse.

And unfortunately, more cravings tend to mean more relapse…

In one study, people dependent on cocaine or amphetamines were 8 times more likely to relapse after returning to alcohol use and 3 times more likely to relapse after returning to marijuana.

Philosophical Conflict with the 12 Steps

If you’re getting drunk regularly you’re not going to feel comfortable at AA or NA meetings that encourage total abstinence from all intoxicants.

People that return to secondary drug or alcohol use are less likely than people who maintain total abstinence to continue to attend 12 steps AA or NA meetings.

And since studies show that people who maintain an active participation in a 12 step program are far less likely to relapse back to abuse, cutting ties – especially in the first year of recovery – makes very little sense.

Reduced Learning of New Sober Coping Strategies

The people most likely to maintain long term abstinence learn new effective strategies to deal with life.

So if stress and anger used to push you headlong to the nearest bar, you’re much better off learning effective relaxation and anger management techniques than substituting alcohol with marijuana or another intoxicant.1

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Page last updated Nov 17, 2012

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