Does sobriety become easier over time through recovery or is there always a constant temptation to continue or resume using addictive substances?

I’ve read, seen and heard from several men and women who have suffered greatly due to substance abuse especially alcoholism and drugs. A number of these had made a decision to receive professional help but some kept wondering whether or not they were making progress while others had expectations that perhaps one day as a sign that they’ve completely healed through the process, they’d no longer have a temptation, or any kind of passion to use. This leaves a confusing yet important to know question: once someone starts their journey towards recovery, does sobriety and perfect wellness become easier to the body and mind eliminating out the temptation or is it possible that the temptation may remain even after completing the treatment process. Please explain. Thank you!

Moderator Asked on October 29, 2018 in Addiction case.
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When you are an addict, there is never a “completing the treatment process” as written by the Moderator because when you are an addict, you are an addict for life. There is no cure to the disease of addiction. Sobriety is only easier through Treatment, I mean lifelong treatment, because only treatment works. But as soon as the patient stops treatment, there is 100% chance symptoms of temptations to use will com back one day or the other. It is the reason why the best treatments are called “Maintenance Treatments”.  Maintenance Treatments are to maintain patients sober, healthy and alive. But for sure when patients are in treatment, I mean quality maintenance treatment, most patients will function like normal people and resume a normal life, without craving or temptation. The patient’s body and mind will feel much better and will heal with time but like I said before, the patients need to stay in treatment.

Super User Answered on November 1, 2018.
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I agree with your view, Olivier. It’s almost ludicrous to think that by receiving treatment, one can completely blot-out temptations. Temptations to use face everyone, normal and addict – and addicts in particular, the attraction is much stronger. It’s Like a once married woman (or man) can only be patient for so long before they get another partner or get reunited to their spouse unlike someone who’s been single all their lives (who perhaps may hold out much longer in their adult lives). Why? Because the body assigns its normal functionality to a specific sensation, stimuli or substance, and it becomes a part of it. For an addict, the drugs or other substances become a part of you, and there’s no actual way you can truly get rid it. Treatment helps re-align your thinking, and body chemical balance so you can focus on things that matter (as noted by Olivier), or even replace the urge with a stronger alternative (the idea behind Medically Assisted Treatment – MAT), only to support an addict through their normal day to day running. Miraculously, though much rarely, some people have claimed to have healed through Addiction after being subjected to a long term addiction treatment and therapeutic procedures, but normally what they mean by being recovered is either:

  1. They’ve gone through treatment and rigorous training to not focus on addiction use stimuli for so many years that they’ve mastered how to live soberly.
  2. They avoid anything that may rekindle temptations to use, such as; they avoid subjecting themselves to even the smell of alcohol or bear, avoid hanging out with old friends who are still substance users.
  3. Avoiding specific medication especially addictive pain relievers.
  4. Have learned to keep their minds so busy and focused elsewhere rather than on how much they miss alcohol or whichever drug they were formally using.

I have read reports of former alcoholics who work as bartenders, and drug addicts (who have already healed through addiction) but are able to traffic drugs without actually being tempted. If such people exist, they are “one in a million”. The most brilliant move is to simply stay away from any kind of stimuli that may tempt you back into using. Temptation will always be there, that is normal and fine! We face temptations every day, but we do not cave into each one of them. Continued treatment, practice and strong focused will, can get you through a normal life.

Regular User Answered on November 1, 2018.
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Understood. Thank you Olivier and Fred for these insights. This makes it all clear – to understand what to expect when someone enters rehabilitation or treatment. The temptation is always there, and that goes for even healthy people, but the real test of character change is how to willfully decide not wade into the habit for Good Health’s sake. Thanks again!

Moderator Answered on November 6, 2018.
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