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My loved one got treatment for pain pill dependency but says that smoking weed or drinking a beer is OK. Is it?

Author Ricki Townsend is a Registered Interventionist, Drug/Alcohol Counselor, Ncac1, CADC-CAS, Bri-1, Chaplain and Grief Recovery Specialist

Substance Use Disorder is a brain disease that does not distinguish between drugs or alcohol. Any mood or mind-altering substance can re-trigger that chemical-dependency, so the answer is “No.” In fact, people who became dependent on pain pills, for example, need to avoid the wine sauce at the fancy restaurant. People in recovery for alcoholism need to be extremely watchful and vigilant when prescribed pain pills for a surgery. This is a life-long disease that can be kept in remission, but that requires avoiding any and all substances that could trigger a relapse.

At some State Fairs or game arcades, you might find a game called “Whack a Mole” which features little stuffed animals that pop up all over the game board. The goal is to push as many of them as possible back into their "dens," using a big paddle. They pop up quickly and are hard to whack.

Well, you are playing “Whack a Mole” when you think that alcohol wasn’t your problem or that drugs weren’t your problem. If you are chemically-dependent on one mood and mind-altering substance, you are vulnerable to all.

Those in recovery must always be on the lookout for mood-altering substances. If you are addicted to alcohol, then pot or pain pills or cough medicine are no better or safer. Playing "Whack a Mole" with your life can land you back in treatment – or worse.


Substance Use Disorder,, relapse

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