Is Moderation Possible in Recovery?

nurse in blue scrubs holding out pills and glass of water

By Cristina Utti MA, MFA

My initial, gut instinct answer to this question is no. Moderation is not possible for those who have passed the threshold into addiction. This is because addiction changes the chemistry of our brain, thus the phrase, “once an addict, always an addict,” and addiction really is a disease of the brain. For someone who is questioning whether it is safe to go out and have a few drinks, or go ahead and take a few hits, statistics have shown repeatedly that this does not work. As a matter of fact, millions have lost their lives, thinking that they were okay and could once again party “normally”. What usually happens once someone with an addiction problem picks back up, is they go full throttle right to where they were when they stopped, and this can be fatal because the tolerance is not there anymore.

Being in recovery means abstaining from all drugs and/or alcohol.

This brings me to the dilemma in which I now find myself. I had major surgery one week ago. (Anterior spinal fusion of 5-6-7, if anyone knows or cares what that means). They even kept me in the hospital for four days while my spine drained, which was surprising, because nowadays they throw you out the very next day. So, I’m guessing it was pretty major. I was sent home with Valium and Oxycodone. The prescription states take one Valium every six hours and 2 Oxycodone every four hours. I was never a pill popper; that was not my thing. But, still, I am scared as heck to be on these things while in recovery. Last night I refused to take them. This morning I woke in so much pain that I could not even stand up, landed up falling right down on the hard wood floor and hurting my shoulder. I do not want to go back to the hospital because they kept on poking me and poking me with needles—that is a problem for me.

Luckily, I have my oldest daughter here with me. She has taken control of the meds. She gives me them when I am supposed to take them according to the doctor’s orders. Being the eldest she is the one who saw me at my worst when I was struggling with alcoholism, years ago when she was barely a teenager. My answer to the question of whether moderation is possible has now changed. Yes, moderation is possible if you are under strict doctor’s orders. If this is a case in which you find yourself, give your meds to someone you trust to disburse to you at the appropriate times. Be honest with yourself, and do not stay on them any longer than you have to.

Addiction is addiction, and will always find a way to creep back into our lives if we let it.

If you are simply questioning whether or not you can go party for a bit because you have some clean time and think that you are okay now, no one is stopping you. But remember all of the pain that brought you into recovery—you never have to feel that again. Why risk it? Ask around—anyone who has relapsed claims it gets worse each time. Is your sober time, and more importantly, is your life, worth the risk?

If you or a loved one is suffering a relapse and needs help, contact us today at 800.218.6727. Our professionals are standing by.

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