Can You Drink Alcohol While Recovering From Addiction?

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One of the most common questions asked when it comes to drug rehabilitation is: can a person recovering from addiction drink alcohol? The short answer to this question is yes, he or she can still drink alcohol. However, according to a drug rehab in Florida, doing so comes with some serious risks. 

Recovering from Drug Addiction and Drinking Alcohol 

Recovering from drug addiction is never easy. To be successful requires willpower, determination, and dedication. Addicts generally exhibit a need for support, and this is where drinking alcohol while recovering from addiction becomes problematic.

Drinking alcohol may help recovering addicts dull the withdrawal symptoms, but at the same time, it may become a psychological crutch, which a recovering addict may become dependent on. In other words, drinking alcohol may lead to replacing one dependency with another.

An essential part of any rehabilitation/recovery program is for participants to learn about the relationship between drug addiction and alcohol dependency. It is critical to inform all parties – including addicts and their families, therapists and counselors, rehabilitation house and rehab facilitators, social workers, and other professionals – about the dangerous combination of drugs and alcohol.

Why Can’t Drug Addicts Drink Alcohol?    

Mixing drugs and alcohol is never a good idea as it can have serious health, behavioral, and physical consequences. It can also be fatal. It is relatively simple for recovering drug addicts to replace one type of addiction with another, particularly at the beginning stages of their recovery. After abusing drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or prescription pills, addicts can replace these with alcohol, thereby triggering a new addiction.  

Moreover, recovering drug addicts may not be satisfied with alcohol alone. Many recovering addicts relapse back to using hard drugs and may even fall back into drug addiction. Comprehensive addiction treatment is needed to assist these individuals in overcoming addiction relapses.

The Slippery Slope 

A new addiction to drugs or alcohol can be a sign of imminent danger. Drinking alcohol while recovering from drug addiction is like walking on a slippery slope; chances are you will fall and fall back into addiction.

The trouble with drinking alcohol while recovering from drug addiction is that it’s too easy to think that if one drink didn’t hurt me the first time, then another drink won’t hurt me this time. This thought process is a slippery slope, and thinking this way can trigger a relapse or lead to alcohol addiction.

The Chemistry of Drug and Alcohol Addiction    

Many people make the mistake of thinking that drugs and alcohol affect the brain differently. This is wrong as both drugs and alcohol affect the brain by causing it to release dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for basic survival skills such as eating, social bonding, and procreation. Dopamine is also what the brain releases when experiencing pleasure. Highly addictive drugs trick your brain into producing more dopamine, creating a feeling of euphoria, which the body will seek to replicate whenever possible.

Regular use of drugs or alcohol leads to the brain releasing increased amounts of dopamine. Then, if this happens enough, the body will begin to crave the feelings produced by dopamine release, resulting in addiction.

Some people can overcome drug addiction and continue to drink responsibly, but others could suffer from severe addiction, which is only exacerbated by the regular consumption of alcohol.

Addiction Treatment and Drug Rehabilitation    

A gateway drug is a non-addictive drug that, when regularly used, may lead to (or open the gateway for) the use of harder drugs. Marijuana, for instance, is considered by many to be a gateway drug that leads to the abuse of more dangerous drugs.

Much like marijuana, alcohol is also considered a gateway drug, and regular use of alcohol can lead to alcohol dependency.

A study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (NCASA) found that 67% of people who began drinking before the age of 15 abused hard drugs later in life. The study also found that of those participants who never had alcohol, a mere 4% developed drug dependence.

Additionally, the study found that those who regularly drank alcohol while undergoing rehabilitation were at a much higher risk of developing alcohol dependency or relapsing into drug use.

Here are some common reasons people fall victim to alcohol abuse:

  • Alcohol abuse in the family
  • Childhood trauma (e.g., sexual molestation or sex abuse)
  • Emotional trauma (e.g., death of a family member or divorce)
  • Substance abuse can lead to psychiatric problems.
  • History of simultaneous alcohol and drug use

A person addicted to alcohol is more likely to use at least one other substance, including heroin, cocaine, and marijuana.

Tolerance to alcohol and drugs also increases over time, leading to your body requiring the consumption of more alcohol or drugs to experience the same pleasurable reaction.

Key Takeaway 

Alcohol may not be addictive, and recovering drug addicts may drink alcohol while going through rehabilitation without experiencing physical or mental harm. However, it can be dependence-building, which can lead to a relapse. It can also lead to replacing drug addiction with alcohol dependency. That’s why many experts discourage recovering addicts from drinking alcohol.

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