Setting the boundaries of your recovery is a personal decision. If you struggled with addiction to one substance, you might not feel the need to swear off another, thinking it could work as a safer outlet. It’s not an uncommon train of thought in recovery to weigh the pros and cons of going “cold turkey” off every substance at once versus allowing yourself to continue using other substances to mitigate the main addiction you’re fighting. Make sure to be honest and transparent with your recovery professionals as you navigate the path to self-improvement so that they can be best prepared to help you and won’t treat you in a way that clashes with your decisions.
If you came to treatment because you need help with addiction to a dangerous substance, like heroin or cocaine, you’re likely to be prescribed a lifestyle of sobriety. If you want to maintain your use of drugs that you consider less harmful, or with which you don’t perceive a personal problem, that’s your choice–nobody can force sobriety upon you. Remember, though, that drug use is often interrelated in the brain. If your habits with one substance often co-occur with another, keeping up with your other vices may make it much harder for you to pull away from the one you’re worried about. Even something as seemingly harmless as marijuana can increase your likelihood of returning to other substances and decrease your motivation to take on lifestyle changes that would improve your overall health.
At the same time, going cold turkey off everything at once can seem like an overwhelming challenge, especially if “less dangerous” drugs like alcohol or marijuana can help mitigate the intense emotional turmoil you experience through withdrawal and the difficult early stages of recovery. The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to conduct an unflinchingly honest self-assessment with the guidance of a trusted recovery professional who can listen to your exact position and advise you accordingly. There may be more options available to you than you realize, and sometimes getting completely clean might be easier and more promising than you expect. The absolute last thing you should do is continue to use other substances while in recovery without alerting your healthcare providers. Doing so can seriously jeopardize your recovery, your health, and your relationship with the people who want to help you.
While it may seem obvious that medical recovery centers would be careful not to treat you with anything that could form a new addiction, sometimes the most effective route carries that risk. If you’re receiving treatment to overcome addiction to a short-acting opioid like heroin or fentanyl, part of your symptom management might include being treated with medications such as methadone. Other forms of treatment for different instances of withdrawal and dependency might include prescribed pain relief and relaxation in the form of benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium.
Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is a prominent, effective means of relieving the intensity of dependency and withdrawal symptoms. However, it does require careful monitoring, both from medical staff and from within your mind. If you sense yourself developing a reliance upon these medications, resist the urge to let yourself be okay with it. While it may seem like a pleasant step in your journey away from the “real” addiction you were facing, allowing a dependency to build up on benzodiazepines, medical opioid analogues, or any other substance used to treat addiction is simply jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Consult with your healthcare professional right away.
It’s extremely common for people in recovery to substitute their substance dependencies with more benign addictions like exercise, shopping, eating, or workaholism. While less immediately dangerous, these behaviors should still be monitored for signs of overindulgence and can serve as a sign that the underlying tendency towards compulsive gratification is still present inside you. Your recovery professionals will recognize and understand these new patterns of behavior and can act as resources for any questions or concerns they may cause. Ultimately, in all things seek balance. If these indulgences allow you to make it through recovery with less strain and can be integrated into a healthier lifestyle, then you’re probably doing alright. As with substance abuse, if your newfound compulsions begin to affect other aspects of your life, you may want to consider making further adjustments to your approach.
If you’re in a complicated relationship with multiple substances or numerous sources of recovery, you may be best served by accessing trustworthy professional help. While it can seem easy to know yourself and decide how to mitigate your addictions based on your past experience, chemical dependency is a delicate, nuanced tightrope to walk. Treatment centers and care facilities can give you the upper hand in managing and overcoming addiction in a way that you may not be able to do on your own. At Cornerstone Healing Center in Scottdale, Arizona, we understand that recovery is a personal process. No two people will flourish under the same conditions, which is why we approach each patient on an individual level. Our goal is to meet your unique needs and help you live the life you’re meant to live. Our expert staff are ready to work with you to discuss your different paths to healing, offer encouragement and accountability, and provide a wide array of evidence-based medical and therapeutic treatment modalities to ensure that your journey towards success and stability is a successful one. Call (800) 643-2108 to learn more.