Addiction is a complex topic and navigating a problem with substances is difficult. Often times, when things are complex and hard to understand we tend to gravitate towards very black and white solutions to our problems in an effort to try to simplify what we're dealing with. That said, when it comes to navigating struggles we are having with substance use, it is a tendency that can cause us problems. When we are thinking about black and white solutions to problems we are not likely taking into account our uniqueness as individual human beings. This can lead us to minimize our use because we are not “as bad off” as other people we know or have heard about his struggle with addiction. It can also prevent us from looking for solutions that are more individualized than just a blanket don't use anything ever again. Solutions that may actually be more helpful for us.
Addiction doesn't look the same for everyone. And not all substance use that is problematic is necessarily addiction. That said, not everyone who struggles with substances necessarily needs to be completely abstinent for the rest of their lives. This doesn't mean there aren't people who do need complete sobriety, but it's not everyone. Some people, while they may struggle with substances, still have some ability to moderate. These are people can set boundaries around drugs and alcohol and stick to them successfully. If someone is able to do this wonderful. If you are keeping to an amount you are comfortable with, and it's not causing problems, maybe just maybe complete sobriety isn't necessary.
While the addiction world has come a long way, and is increasingly acknowledging the uniqueness of addiction and realizing that a one-size-fits-all approach isn't necessarily the best way to go, the field still has a ways to go. If you are someone who is trying to figure out if substances can play a role in your life at all and if so, what that would look like, there are some important questions to ask yourself. Can you set limits around your substance use and stick to them? It's also important to acknowledge some trial and error may happen. You may find that you really struggle set boundaries around use and sticking to them. If that's the case, then complete sobriety from all substances is probably the best way to be successful for you. If you can set limits and boundaries around your substance use that you stick to and feel good about, then that may be an okay place to stay.
It's also important to acknowledge that this can change. If over time, we find we can't moderate ourselves around a substance like we used to be able to, being able to acknowledge that and make changes is so important. The other thing to think about when making this decision is how addiction works in our brain. If you are addicted to a substance, and continue to use that substance or any other substance, even in lesser amounts, research does show that risk of relapse is greater. Really what it comes down to is the importance of knowing and being really honest with ourselves. If you are struggling with a substance and are not sure the best way to navigate this, having a professional really help you take that look inward and evaluate what's going to work best for you can be incredibly helpful.
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