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[ Opinion ] [ Personal Narratives ]

I’m an Addict But Am I an Alcoholic?

At heart I’m an alcoholic but by the end of my drinking/drugging career I was a daily crack addict. I’m actually grateful that I was addicted to crack because it was the thing that brought me to my knees – literally. I often share that I was a whisky swilling, carpet crawling crack head. If it weren’t for the crack ramming me into my rock bottom I, sincerely, believe I would have continued drinking and ended up dying of pancreatitis.

When I finally surrendered I had no qualms about becoming totally abstinent from all mind altering substances. The only substances I ever quit on my own were marijuana and tobacco. I did quit powder cocaine on my own but only because I switched to crack. Once you have crack you never go back. In my dealings with other people trying to recover from addiction I’ve found those who seek help due to an addiction to a substance other than alcohol often find it hard to admit that they cannot safely take a drink again.

There are several reasons for this the foremost being that drinking can lead one back to whatever one liked to use on a regular basis. Notice I didn’t say lead one back to one’s drug of choice – I didn’t use that term as I know I never had a choice when it came to alcohol and/or crack. Dr. William Silkworth called the phenomenon of craving an alcoholic faces when taking that first drink an allergy. An allergy can be defined as an “abnormal reaction” to something. The other night at a meeting I heard someone use this analogy perfectly when explaining why an addict shouldn’t use alcohol. I know that once I had at least two drinks I would be looking to score some crack. The person at the meeting asked the question, when a normal person has a couple of drinks do they start seeking out crack (or opiates, etc.)? No but the addicted person does – this is an abnormal reaction to drinking.

Another reason an addict shouldn’t drink is that alcohol lowers one’s inhibitions and can allow the mental aspect of the disease to kick in. A couple of drinks in and the disease is telling the person, hey let’s go score it’ll only be for this one night. The disease of addiction is the only disease that tries to trick the sufferer into thinking he/she doesn’t have it.

Maybe someone starts drinking and doesn’t return to their regularly used substance. The danger here is that a dual addiction may kick in and the person starts to use alcohol to escape life instead of what they used before.

Once I completed the 12 Steps, as laid down in the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous, I could truly state that I am a recovered alcoholic/addict. The 12 Step program is a cognitive behavioural program with a spiritual aspect. When one uses mind altering substances he is blocking himself from the spiritual side of recovery. If one is truly seeking spiritual growth than one should have no qualms about not taking any kind of mind altering substance (this does not include mental health medication prescribed by a physician).