There is great value to be found in abstinence-based programs, treatment programs that use abstinence from all controlled substances as the means to recovery. This method of treatment is not to be confused with medication-assisted detoxification and treatment, which can be a part of abstinence-based programs. 

Other programs, such as those that follow harm-reduction models of treatment, encourage decreasing and controlling usage rather than total elimination. However, non-abstinence-based treatment options can sometimes have the effect of creating dependence on a new controlled substance when trying to heal the dependence on the original drug of choice, and/or they can maintain the original dependence without the client ever fully shedding their dependence. At Athens Area Commencement Center, we believe that an abstinence-based program makes for the best treatment option to overcoming addiction. 

Abstinence-Based Program vs. Dependence

Many treatment centers view full abstinence as the most effective way to recover from addiction. Those in recovery come to learn the value of abstinence-based programs. When working to heal from one drug of choice, it can be harmful to our long-term recovery to replace it with another. With full abstinence, we begin to learn true independence – independence from our drug of choice, healthy emotional independence in our relationships, and self-reliance in our day-to-day lives. 

When replacing one controlled substance with another, we’re often still dependent. We’re not only physically dependent on that substance but also psychologically dependent on the emotional escape it can provide. Rather than fully going inward to heal, we’re still dependent on something outside of ourselves. We’re dependent on an artificial crutch rather than finding genuine sources of support. 

Abstinence-Based Program: Overcoming Patterns of Substance Use

Similarly, decreasing usage rather than abstaining fully can essentially maintain our ongoing patterns of dependence. Using or drinking less means we’re still relying on, and depending upon, the substance. We’re still allowing that substance to serve as a coping mechanism for us. Instead of developing the coping skills we need to actually get well and stay well, we’re often using something to get by, something to soften the blows that life can hand us. Many of us resist going into treatment because we’re afraid of abstinence and would prefer to try to decrease or control how much we’re using rather than abstain fully.

An Abstinence-Based Program Helps Us Develop Life Skills

When we choose abstinence, we learn the life skills to stay away from not only our original drug of choice but also any future potential drugs of choice. We learn the warning signs of dependence and realize how easy it can be to become dependent. As we recover, we see that we can quickly become addicted to a new substance or behavior and that our go-to drug of choice can be swapped out for another. 

With abstinence-based programs, we develop the tools for success we need to stay sober. We learn to surround ourselves with support, which can help keep us on track. Many of us might more easily heal our patterns of dependence when we choose total abstinence as our recovery method. 

Abstinence-Based Programs and Clarity

With full abstinence comes clarity. When we’re no longer dependent on any substance, we can think more clearly. We can connect with our inner guidance more truthfully and understand ourselves more deeply. In recovery, we begin to foster a healthier relationship with ourselves and with other people with this newfound, clearer, more aligned sense of self. We become more true to who we are, can stay the course of our recovery, and remain committed to our recovery goals.

When struggling with addiction, we tend to lose our way in life, and we also lose ourselves. Who was I before I became addicted to my drug of choice? What were my interests and passions? Abstinence-based treatment can help us take a closer, deeper look at ourselves and our lives. With clarity, we can regain our sense of purpose. We can come out of the haze of addiction with a clearer path for ourselves. Our mind-body-spirit connection can thrive when our bodies and minds have the chance to fully detoxify. 

Rediscovering Oneself With Abstinence-Based Programs

Abstinence-based programs can help us to rediscover the self-care and self-development practices that we neglected when struggling with addiction. Many of us will find the things that most help us that we never knew we needed. We can get back to, or start fresh with, the inner work we all need to do in order to stay well. 

Beyond first weaning off our drug of choice, abstinence invites us to do the ongoing self-reflection and self-care work that keeps us sober. Whatever that looks like for you, whether staying honest with your sponsor or starting a daily gratitude practice, that inner work is crucial to our recovery. We can more fully commit to that work when we have the clarity that comes with abstinence, and Athens Area Commencement Center can help you to achieve that clarity as you work toward a successful recovery.

Making the decision to recover is perhaps the most important decision we’ll ever make. Having the support and expertise of a successful treatment center can make all the difference. At Athens Area Commencement Center, we have over 30 years of experience helping people recover from addiction. We believe in abstinence-based treatment rather than replacing one controlled substance with another. With individual, group, and family sessions, you’re surrounded by help and support as you work toward recovery. Once you’ve met your initial goal of sobriety, you’re invited to keep taking advantage of all the continued support we offer, with our ongoing educational and relapse prevention programs designed to help you stay well. Call us at (706) 546-7355 to learn more. 

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