Why Moderation Never Works with Drugs and Alcohol

drug use in moderation

Why Moderation Never Works with Drugs and Alcohol

For some alcoholics and addicts, they wanted a few too many. We got sucked into the grips of insanity and started realizing the hard way that moderation never works, and there was no such thing as just a taste. It’s safe to say that everybody wants to be happy, whatever their version of that means, but we all crave a little slice of pleasure. 

Our bodies and minds are chasing a feeling that is becoming unreachable and requires more and more to achieve. We just wanted to feel as excellent as possible, but the demons of addiction send wake up calls. Making sure to remind us that moderation never works and that we can’t cheat the disease even if we try our hardest. Eventually, it all blows up in our faces, and getting clean and introducing sobriety into the mixture is the best remedy.  

To understand that moderation doesn’t work is just as essential as understanding addiction and what causes it. Below is the breakdown of addiction and reasons why moderation won’t work for an alcoholic or addict.

What is Drug Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic disease which is characterized by drug seeking and drug use that is compulsive and difficult to control, despite their harmful consequences. The initial decision to use is voluntary for most. Still, a repeat of drug use will lead to brain changes that will complicate the addict’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist urges and cravings to retake drugs. 

These urges are persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a relapsing disease. In essence, individuals in recovery from alcohol and drug use disorders are at an increased risk of using drugs again, even after years of abstinence. 

Many People Misunderstand Addiction

Most people won’t understand how or why someone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol. They mistakenly think the individuals who use drugs lack moral principles or the willpower to stop drug use by simply choosing to. In reality, alcohol and drug addiction is a complex disease in which quitting will take more than just good intentions and a strong will. 

Drug abuse will change the brain in ways that will make quitting tough, even for the dedicated ones who want to. Fortunately, researchers know very thoroughly how drugs affect the brain. They have found treatments to help individuals, allowing them to recovery from drug addiction to go on and live productive lives.

Relapse Isn’t Final

It is prevalent for individuals to relapse, but relapse doesn’t quite mean that treatment does not work. Like other chronic health conditions, treatment should be an ongoing process that should be adjusted based on how the patient responds. Treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit each patient’s changing needs.

What Happens to the Brain When a Person Uses Drugs?

Drug use fully affects the brain’s reward circuit, which causes euphoria as well as flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. A properly functioning brain reward system will motivate individuals to repeat behaviors needed to thrive, such as spending time with loved ones and eating. Dopamine surges in the reward circuit will cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like using drugs, which leads users to repeat the behavior over and over.

As an individual continues to use drugs, the brain will adapt by reducing the ability of cells and the reward circuit to respond to it. This will reduce their high compared to how they felt when first taking the drug, which is known as building intolerance. The user will start taking more drugs to try to feel the same high. These brain adaptations will then lead to the individual becoming less able to drive pleasures from things they once enjoyed, like sex, social activities, or food. 

Long-term use causes changes in the brains chemical systems and circuits as well, affecting everyday functions which include:

  • Decision making
  • Behavior
  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Judgment
  • Stress
  • Balance
  • Happiness

Despite knowing the harmful outcomes, most users will continue to take drugs, which is the nature of addiction.

Why Do Some People Become Addicted to Drugs While Others Don’t?

A few of those risk factors will include: 

  • Biology- The genes that people are born with account for half of their risk of addiction. Ethnicity, gender, and other mental health disorders can also influence the risk of drug use and addiction.
  • Environment- A person’s environment will include many different influences, from friends and family to economic status and overall quality of life. Factors like peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early exposure to drugs, stress, and lack of parental supervision will significantly affect someone’s likelihood of drug use and addiction. 
  • Development- Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person’s life, which increases addiction risk. Although using drugs at any age could lead to addiction, the earlier in life drug use begins, the greater chance of addiction will become present. This is particularly problematic for teens and adolescence. Because there are areas in the brain that control the decision making thoughts, while self-control and judgment are still developing for teens, this can make them more prone to risky behaviors, including using drugs.

There’s not a sole factor in predicting if someone will become addicted to drugs. A combination of factors will influence the chances and risks of addiction. The more risk factors they have, the higher the opportunity that drug use will lead to addiction.

just say no

Can Drug Addiction Be Cured or Prevented?

Like other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, or asthma, drug addiction treatment is generally not a cure. Individuals recovering from addiction are at risk for relapse for many years after and possibly their whole lives. 

Study shows that combining addiction treatment medicines with behavioral therapy will ensure the best chance of success for most patients looking to achieve sobriety. The treatment approach is customized to each patient’s drug use patterns, and any co-occurring mental, medical, and social issues can lead to continued recovery.

Another positive note, drug use and addiction are preventable. Studies from the NIDA-funded research shows that prevention programs that involve schools, communities, families, and the media are useful in preventing and reducing drug use and addiction. 

Although cultural factors and personal events affect drug use trends, when children view drugs as harmful, they will tend to decrease their drug use. Therefore, outreach and education are vital in helping individuals understand the possible risks of drug use. Parents, teachers, and healthcare providers also play crucial roles in educating kids and preventing drug use and addiction down the road.

Can’t Outsmart Alcoholic Thinking

Plain and simple: moderation never works because we are less intelligent than our addiction- in a sense. Neurology and psychology doctorates and professionals from all over the world have proclaimed their takes on the phenomenon. It is a disorder or disease if you will, that can’t be beaten through logic necessarily. 

Smarts will not save you or your best friend from sticking a needle in your arm or taking a swig from the glass bottle. True addicts and alcoholics suffer from alcoholic thinking. There’s a reason why only 1 of the 12 steps in recovery has to do with drugs and alcohol, and the rest of them have to do with bettering ourselves as human beings.

An addict or alcoholic who has been out binging for a period will be clouded by the chemicals and think irrationally at times. The minds of us chemically inflicted tell us that we want more of the stuff that is making us feel good. Something upstairs in the mind of an addict tells them that this feeling is the only way they want to feel from now on. 

Eventually, recognizing that moderation never works with this chemically laden satisfaction is a tough certainty to come to. Usually, by the time this is realized, the addict or alcoholic in question is already over their head with substance abuse problems and is just trying to tread water and stay afloat at this point. The time has come to detox our mind and bodies as we take on and recognize this phenomenon of craving that has developed seemingly out of nowhere.

Accepting Our Downfalls

Acceptance comes big into play with the admittance of our demons and learning to move around them than through them. The disease of addiction steals your soul and morphs you into a hollow shell of the person you once were. It’s a harsh reality, but once this idea of moderation becomes your goal, it’s all pretty much downhill from there. Once the obsession has been awakened, it’s like a hyperactive gorilla sitting on your back, whipping you to do its bidding. 

This reoccurring thought just constantly appears in your cranium and bounces around, even making mere sentences hard to complete. It rules every aspect of your life, and the only way to release this heavy load is acting on your addiction. Every inch of your mind has now caved in to this fixation, and the only choice left is to get high to relieve the mental pressure. That is why moderation never works, the demons are best to be left sleeping once the recovery process has begun.

Don’t Moderate Your Sanity

Life likes to sneak up on people, but addiction and alcoholism grab you up by the ankles and flip your whole world upside down. Sure maybe moderation never works, but that doesn’t mean we are destined for unhappiness. Addiction and alcoholism owning you can get old quick- but there are alternatives to being chemically dependent. 

If you or a loved one has been struggling with getting a firm grasp on sobriety and need detoxification, please contact us here. Our team of specialists are waiting to help figure out what options are best for sending your life is a comfortable direction that you can proudly stand behind.

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.