Within the realm of addiction and recovery, there is a very well-known term: abstinence. Abstinence is the continued choice to no longer use drugs or alcohol or to take part in the kinds of activities that commonly lead to or are associated with drug or alcohol use.
This concept has been applied to other kinds of addictions that might not be chemically-based addictions, such as sex addiction. It might work well for some men and women in recovery from addiction, but not so well for others. This is because of the nature of addiction itself. Not only does the intensity of addiction and persistence of addiction differ from person to person, so does the drug of choice or lifestyle addiction concerned.
Pros of Abstinence Addiction Treatment
Most therapists, psychologists and counselors of those suffering from addiction have been trained to preach abstinence to their clients. However, as the medical community learns more about addiction, this inflexible theory of practice must become more yielding.
Here’s an example: It’s true that long-term and severe alcoholics suffer from a chemical imbalance as well as a mental obsession with alcohol. If they have just one drink, it might literally mean the end of their lives. This is because it often turns into a drinking binge that can only end one of a few ways: death, hospitalization or incarceration. Recovering alcoholics and drug addicts know this very well, and so do their counselors and psychiatrists.
It’s also true that some alcoholics and drug addicts are strong enough to be weaned off their drug of choice slowly and over time. This is where the rigid standard of abstinence has to become more mobile to suit individual needs.
Cons of Abstinence Addiction Treatment
When it comes to other types of addiction, the abstinence standard has to be reconsidered or at least be made more flexible. Addictions to sex, shopping and even exercise have to be treated differently.
It’s irrational to ask a person who is suffering from sex addiction to abstain from sex altogether. In this case, that would be going against human nature itself. The key to recovery would be moderation and controlled behavior through constant self-observation on the patient’s part, which would be guided by the counselor or psychiatrist.
The same can be said about addictions to smartphone technology and the internet. Numerous examples will prove that addiction treatment is just that, a treatment. Although it will take intense effort on the patient’s part, it will also take constant and creative efforts on those who provide recovery treatment.