Can opiate addicts drink occasionally?
March 18, 2013 5:33 PM   Subscribe

I have been sober for almost two years from Short acting opiates. I quit my habit before it got out of control. I was using opiates about 5 out of the 6 days a week and it was getting worse. I would do about 60 mgs of oxy each time. I dont want to drink right now, but maybe a couple of years down the road I would like to have a drink. I never had a problem drinking at all. I know I am getting ahead of myself here, but I am just curious if it has been done? I went out with my friends this weekend and they were all drinking. I felt kind of left out. It was really not a big deal but I am still pretty curious.
posted by Truts83 to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can they? Sure, some of them absolutely can. I know a number of people who recovered from opiate addiction (synthetic or not) and can go to the bar and have a few drinks and whatever. I also know people who stay away from any mood-altering substance because they know themselves and understand that the risk isn't worth it.

Can you? No one here knows the answer to that question. You weren't just addicted to oxy just because you had a physical dependency to synthetic opiates. There's a big psychological component at play that everyone with substance abuse problems have to face eventually. Why did your brain want to be high before your body needed to be high? You're the only one who knows the answer. Take it one day at a time, and if you're not sure, play it safe.

Also, don't drink just because you feel left out. Drink for the taste, or because you want to get a little blurry, but the very last reason you want to poke the bear is because of peer pressure that, I'll bet, is more in your head than in your social life. Order a cranberry on the orcks. No one has to know you're not drinking. If people are giving you shit about it, they're being dicks (intentionally or not) and have zero idea what you went through and what you went through to get out of what you went through and you don't need them in your life.
posted by A god with hooves, a god with horns at 5:46 PM on March 18, 2013 [12 favorites]

As "a god" succinctly put it, it depends on the individual.

I know a good many people who stay away from all mind altering substances because they lead back to the thing they don't want to do. I have personal experience with a substance I wasn't
fond of at all leading me back to the one I really enjoyed.

The only way to test this is a literal trial by fire, which may end up no harm no foul, or could end in a raging nightmare.

I suggest that you speak with a substance abuse counselor or therapist about it before you attempt it, if you ever find yourself inclined to do so, if only so you are aware of your personal potential of risk told to you from someone who knows your specific situation better than we do.
posted by Debaser626 at 7:45 PM on March 18, 2013

I have no firsthand experience with this but one of my main concerns would be being very cautious about the situations I chose to drink in. A glass of wine with Thanksgiving family dinner, I think, would be a lot less fraught than having beers at the bar when you're out on a Saturday night. My reasoning being that you don't want to be anywhere near a situation where you could potentially get some pills from a friend who's still doing it or from on the street while you're out, or whatever, because you're having a night on the town and your judgment is impaired from the alcohol. And remember if you haven't had a drink for a long time that a little alcohol could hit you harder than you expect. Congratulations on 2 years sober, by the way!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:05 PM on March 18, 2013

Just as a datapoint, for me a weekend of doing drugs often started with a night of drinking, but it was mostly about context, because I was drinking at raves where it was easy for me to find stuff if I wanted to, so I'd often go out not planning on doing anything, and then would be on e by the end of the night. If I were drinking a glass of wine at a restaurant with dinner, there was just about 0 chance of me ending up at an after party 36 hours later.

So I guess maybe if you were with people that you have never done drugs with, weren't at a location where it would be easy to find them, and you didn't have anybody you could get them from on speed dial, then maybe it might be okay to have a drink or two.

It would probably be better to not find this out the hard way, though, you know?
posted by empath at 9:28 PM on March 18, 2013

I believe that an addiction counselor can coach you on whether/how to try drinking alcohol on an occasional basis.
posted by BibiRose at 9:41 PM on March 18, 2013

The problem with alcohol is, it may disinhibit you. Even if you go into a drinking session with a clear intention not to shift gears to your former drug of choice, and even if alcohol wasn't linked to your prior use of that substance, it can still lead to lapses in judgment.

Since you say you don't want to drink now anyway, and are just thinking ahead to a few years from now, I'd say backburner that question for a few more years. You may very well find that in a few years, your attitude toward intoxicants has changed to the point where you might not even be interested in the idea of drinking.

Great job on kicking the demon oxy, by the way. Solid work.
posted by nacho fries at 10:06 PM on March 18, 2013

One thing I realized at some point was that people who weren’t addicts generally did not spend a lot of time contemplating the rules and/or planning hypothetical situations in the future when they would or would not be able to drink or take mind altering substances.

I’m not saying that applies to you, just something I’ve seen come up.
posted by bongo_x at 12:42 AM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

I believe that an addiction counselor can coach you on whether/how to try drinking alcohol on an occasional basis.

This is the same as saying "No." Addictions counselors traditionally have a very hard line when it comes to a former addict doing any subsequent substances.

People have covered this pretty well: it depends on the person, and no one can say for you; alcohol may lead to poor choices about opiate use even though you think it won't; certain situations might make that more likely than others.

I have certainly known it to be true with addicts I work with (professionally) and addicts I know (personally) that people secure in their recovery can use a drug that they don't care about too much (NOT their drug of choice) in a moderate way and infrequently.
posted by OmieWise at 5:52 AM on March 19, 2013

With the addicts I've known, what some people have described above worked for while...until it didn't. For two guys I knew, the pattern was like this:

1. Get sober. No drinking or anything for months - years.
2. Try a beer. A-okay. Drink very occasionaly and lightly - vigilantly monitoring intake - for months without slipping.
3. Drink moderately - still monitoring intake - for months without slipping.
4. Feel confident, go to bars, "knowing" drinking was fine.
5. Start using again.
posted by Pax at 7:02 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's my thought on it.

Why is it important for you to drink? Parse this down, and keep asking yourself why.

I think that when you get to the nugget of it, that you may decide that alcohol just isn't worth it.

Is the thought of a cocktail, beer or bottle of wine so enticing that you're willing to risk your sobriety from opiates for it?

Only you can answer the questions.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:27 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

As a recovering alcoholic, my answer to the question would be "No". You could certainly try, but I personally would not recommend it.

The fact that you are already an opiate addict does not bode well for you with any mood-altering substances.

I never had a problem drinking at all.

Well, I have never had a problem with opiates. YET.

I value my sobriety more than anything in my life, and to risk losing it is foolish at best.

I wonder what the answers would be if I asked the question, "Can alcoholics use opiates occasionally?"

As hard as it can be at times, the healthiest way to approach life as an alcoholic or addict, is to learn how to live life without the crutch of ANY mood-altering substances. You'd be amazed at how awesome life can be when you're actually emotionally present for it.
posted by strelitzia at 8:35 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I know one person personally, and I know of a number of other people who are opiate addicts who quit opiates but use alcohol without the debilitating, life-destroying impact that alcohol can have.

On the other hand, I think if you have a drug addition, you probably have a lot of underlying stuff that led to the drug addiction, and alcohol would likely be just another way to avoid dealing with that part.
posted by latkes at 11:20 AM on April 1, 2013

« Older Giving myself to a chainsaw   |   Help me find a laptop that will play the games... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.