We thought we would list some of the things that we hear clients say. You can substitute any drug for any other drug in any statement or comment. Denial ain’t just a river in Africa, remember?
I don’t even know why I’m here. I’m not an addict.
You’re here for some reason. You didn’t just walk in to see what it was like. Some major problem in your life got you through the doors. You may as well hang out for a while and see if we can help you with the problem — whatever it is.
Marijuana isn’t addictive, because there’s no withdrawal.
It is true that years ago there was no noticeable withdrawal from marijuana use, but in those days cannabis had only about 1/10th the active ingredients that today’s hybridized varieties have. Even then, chronic users often had trouble quitting.
Today, there is acute withdrawal that involves irritability, sleeping difficulties, mood swings, loss of appetite and other issues. We also know that there is a post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) that includes depression and cognitive disorders, and that can last for many months.
I’ll stop drinking, but I’m still going to smoke a blunt now and then.
Recovery requires abstaining from all mood-altering drugs. We cannot pick and choose. All drugs work on our reward system. Addiction occurs when the reward system loses the ability to make us feel good without the extra stimulation of drugs. If we continue to stimulate the reward system so that it cannot return to normal, then we will continue to have cravings.
I only drink wine or beer.
All ethyl alcohol (ethanol) affects the human body the same way, and one six-ounce glass of wine, one 12 ounce beer, and one shot of 80 proof liquor all contain roughly the same amount of alcohol.
I only drink on weekends.
It is not important when we drink. What matters is how much, and why. If we are waking up with a hangover, which is really alcohol withdrawal, we are drinking enough to cause changes in our brains, even if we only do it two or three days out of the week. And are we really remaining totally abstinent the rest of the week, or are we having a couple to “relax” each evening? If that is the case, why do we need alcohol to relax?
I only use (pick a drug) occasionally, so I won’t become addicted.
There are millions of addicts who have found out the hard way that, despite their denial, the occasions tend to get closer and closer together until they have merged, so that we need the drug to be comfortable. When we are more comfortable under the influence of drugs than we are without them, we are well on the way to addiction.
Alcohol doesn’t bother me; I can drink all my buddies under the table.
Increasing tolerance for alcohol or any other drug is the first sign of addiction. If we can drink, snort, swallow or shoot more than we used to be able to handle, we’re in trouble.
“I can take it or leave it.” (I just choose to take it.)
Put it down and don’t touch it for two weeks. Let us know how that works for you. Try it again. Learn anything about denial?
I only have a couple of drinks at home, just to relax.
There is nothing wrong with that, unless we cannot relax without the drinks. In that case we need to do some hard thinking. We also we need to look at what we consider a “couple of drinks.” A standard drink is one shot of 80-proof liquor, one six-ounce glass of wine, or one 12-ounce beer. “Topping off” is cheating. So is filling an iced-tea glass with ice and booze and calling it “a drink.”
My whole family drinks like me.
Alcoholism has a strong hereditary component, as do some other addictions. Need we go on?
The bottom line is this: If drugs, including alcohol, are causing problems in our lives, whether they be hangovers, missing work, “discussions” with our spouses or partners, DUI’s, or any other issues, then they are a problem. There are no two ways about it. Either they cause problems or they don’t. Then the big question becomes why we are continuing to do something that continues to cause us problems.
Now that is a good question — a very good question.