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If I stop using drugs, can I still drink?

Although I identify as an alcoholic, for several years marijuana was my first drug of choice – until it stopped working for me. All of a sudden, smoking pot made me paranoid and miserable. This was when I learned to drink alcohol. And, alcohol was what brought me to my knees.

Throughout my years in recovery, I have watched people get sober and work to identify the driving factors behind their alcohol or drug addiction, only to see them relapse after a while. I went through this myself.

I got sober but suffered from deep depression and debilitating anxiety. I was honest with my Doctor about being an alcoholic in recovery. My Doctor put me on an antidepressant and a Benzedrine for anxiety. I was feeling better but began to misinterpret normal anxiety about a given situation in life and anxiety that was abnormal. I was used to numbing my feelings, used to not feeling much of anything.

Of course I had depression and anxiety. I had made a pretty big mess of my life while drinking and using. There was a lot of wreckage that had to be faced and dealt with. This was frustrating, a little scary, and a lot overwhelming. Any normal person would have felt depressed and anxious if they were working to deal with the mess Id made. Because I was pretty raw and didn’t know how to handle feelings, medications were my answer. And, I relapsed.Today, I do take an anti-depressant because my body does not process dopamine correctly. This doesn’t make me high; it makes me closer to normal. I haven’t touched a drug for anxiety for years. I’ve learned other ways to deal with anxiety.

I’ve heard it said: A drink is a drug is a credit card is a new car is a whole pan of brownies. In other words, any time I turn to something outside of myself in order to change how I feel inside, I am on dangerous footings.

In sobriety, I remember feeling overwhelmed and inadequate at work. There was a group at work that I was sort of a part of, but many times was not asked to attend a meeting or a break outside with them. During those times, rather than dealing with how that made me feel, I jumped on my Amazon Prime account and bought a new shirt, pair of shoes or piece of jewellery. I was acting out in a dangerous way because of how I was feeling inside. Amazon replaced my alcohol.

Cross addiction, or trading one addiction for another, can be very destructive. I’ve known people who decided to go on the marijuana maintenance program – stopped drinking but started smoking pot. This didn’t help them work on their sobriety or face the underlying issues of their addiction; it simply gave them a different escape. After a short period of time, they were drinking again.