Is it Possible for a Recovering Heroin Addict to Drink Alcohol?
Heroin recovery is a lifetime process that calls for personal commitment and dedication. The recovery journey is always easier with a strong support network from family members and friends. While it’s possible to fully recover and enjoy improved health, drinking alcohol can lead to an addiction relapse. Most people assume that alcohol is not an issue but the opposite could be true.
Alcohol consumption while on the journey to heroin recovery comes with major risks such as a new addiction. If you have the willpower to quit substance abuse, then a complete addiction treatment will help transform you into a better person.
Greg is a real-life example of a person who has battled with heroin addiction and managed to come out successfully. He has transformed into a meaningful person who can be accepted by the society today. All he wants is people to consider him like any other reasonable and mature adult.
If you ask his perception about alcohol, he will tell you it’s a standard way to enjoy life, relieve stress and perfectly fit into society. Its true people end up into addiction but there are others who drink responsibly. Greg is much confident he can drink alcohol in moderation and stay safe.
As much as we understand Greg’s point of view, his decision to drink can be a disaster in wait. Therefore, drinking alcohol while recovering from heroin addiction is a bad idea. Just because it works for a few people doesn’t make it justifiable. A possibility of two problems is obvious.
First, it’s possible to get a new addiction from the alcohol itself. Second, alcohol is likely to cause a relapse no matter how far you had gone with your recovery.
The connection between alcohol and relapse
Drugs containing high amounts of cravings interfere with the normal functioning of the brain. These substances can have different effects on an individual but all of them increase the production of dopamine. As we know, dopamine functions to ensure survival skills on an individual. It’s through this hormone that we crave for food, sex, marriage and more.
Now drugs take over the body system forcing it to produce high amounts of this hormone. This goes beyond the ability of the body to naturally produce its own dopamine. As a result, the body keeps on demanding more of this hormone and this leads to addiction to the drug that initiated it.
The human brain starts to link the cravings of dopamine with the feeling of drug use. Once you consume alcohol, it raises the production of this hormone forcing your brain to depend on old neurotransmitters. These networks then send signals suggesting heroin can also lead to high production of dopamine.
This is very risky since it triggers intense urges for heroin and hence causes a relapse. Also, alcohol can lead to heroin addiction relapse since it lowers self-consciousness. This is what makes people engage in things they aren’t supposed to.
Alcohol and a new addiction
Drinking alcohol is also likely to cause more problems. The reason is that addicts in heroin recovery do think there are no effects for exchanging their addiction with a different one. With time, they become too dependent on drinking before they can even realise it. While it’s possible for any person to be addicted, addiction is more likely for those who were previously affected.
Drugs have impaired the normal functioning of the brain making it difficult to stay without. This makes the possibility of another addiction arising as compared to other people.
There is no specific point at which a new addiction will develop. It can be after decades of sobriety or days but its more particular in the early times of addiction recovery. This is a result of the body producing neural networks in excess than its natural capacity. The body responds to maintain normal production of hormones either by creating neutral receptor cells or lowering its own amount of production.
By the time an individual quits drugs, the levels of such hormones are still low. To sustain the dopamine urge, people will resolve to drink alcohol either willingly or subconsciously. This is what reverses the addiction process.
Besides that, cross-addictions can occur as a result of existing risk factors that triggered the initial dependency. Some of these factors are genetically motivated. The same way people watch over their diet to avoid weight gain risks, they also need to be wary of consuming substances that are likely to trigger new addiction.
Assess your intentions
There are many ways through which you can avoid a relapse or new addiction after heroin recovery. Thinking about the motives behind the urge to drink again can help improve your focus.
Below are a number of questions to ask yourself:
- Does the urge to drink come only when depressed or anxious? If yes, then you need to work on ways to manage your stress levels. Some of the effective techniques include exercises, meditation, mindfulness, yoga and more
- Do you feel drinking as a way of passing time or pleasing yourself? This means you cant easily have fun or happy without having something to alter your brain. Your bran is trying to adapt to the new changes so be patient and allow your brain to readjust progressively. You can try to find new pleasable activities such as driving, nature walk, dancing, reading and more
- Are you almost succumbing to the pressure from your peers to drink? While we all want to perfectly fit within the social circle, it’s your role to separate the good from the bad. If your friends give pressurise you too much, then consider finding new friends who can support your journey to recovery. Just tell them you no longer drink and that’s all. If they mean good, they will understand and accept you that way
Honesty is important
Honesty is the key to stay and focus on addiction recovery. Remember it’s your life after all so remain honest on what you want and why you want to drink again. Are you finding it difficult to stop drinking? Who are you pointing accusing fingers of your drinking habits? Is it you, your family or friends?
There is no excuse for a mistake on your recovery process. However, such mistakes are common but not justifiable. Learn from them and you will live an improved healthy life.
Don’t hesitate to seek help whenever you get yourself into trouble. No matter how much you are addicted, complete addiction treatment will serve your needs right.
You can contact our free helpline today on 0800 138 0722. Alternatively, contact us via our online contact form.
About the author:
Jon writes for ADT Healthcare and a number of other websites. Jon graduated with a degree in psychology in 1992. Jon has been in recovery for 19 years.