man looking sad at bar wondering if he can still drink after drug addiction treatment

Can I Still Drink After Drug Treatment?

Many who suffer from substance use disorder seek treatment multiple times due to relapse. What few may know, however, is that they do not always enter treatment with the same substance of choice. Someone who originally struggled with drug addiction in Alaska may later enter alcohol treatment in Washington. Other times, that same person may revisit Alaska addiction treatment because drinking led back to old behaviors. In short, those who drink after drug addiction treatment tend to wind up in a similar place to where they started.

We will not tell you that it’s impossible for recovering drug addicts to drink normally; however, we will say that we don’t tend to see it happen. If you have recently undergone or are about to undergo drug addiction treatment and believe that you should be able to continue drinking afterward, you may wish to keep a few things in mind before heading to the bar for a round.

Reasons for Drinking After Treatment

Before discussing anything else, it helps to look at why you feel the need to drink in the first place. Was this something that crossed your mind some time ago, or did it only pop up after a stressful situation or troubling emotion triggered your desire to escape your current mindset? If it was the latter, then you’re setting yourself up for trouble when you find that drinking offers the same mental and emotional escape as drug abuse. The addict who entered Washington alcohol treatment in the intro likely told a very similar story, only to find themselves in the same repetitive cycle as before they entered drug addiction treatment.

Then again, perhaps you actually feel that drinking may benefit your recovery. National Institute on Drug Abuse recovery statistics place relapse rates for drug addiction at 40-60%, a rather high percentage. If the pleasure of drinking eliminates emotional triggers that might otherwise lead to your drug of choice—be it heroin, meth, cocaine, etc.—you may chalk it up to harm reduction. Alcohol is safer than other drugs, right?

More importantly, since alcohol is not your drug of choice, you may feel confident that you can drink at a reasonable pace. Then again, if you sought drug addiction treatment at all, it might benefit you to challenge your assumption that you can use alcohol without drinking too much.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

The Washington alcohol treatment patient mentioned in the intro was likely someone who felt they could limit their drinking enough to avoid consequences. After leaving Alaska drug addiction treatment, they decided to go to the bar and have a drink. Then another. And another. The next morning, they could not remember how the night ended. But at which point should they have stopped?

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism facts and statistics define moderate drinking as no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men. Anyone who drinks more than this, as most drug addiction treatment patients would be inclined to do, cannot claim to drink in moderation.

Furthermore, those who consume 3-4 drinks on any single day and 7-14 drinks per week are at low risk of developing alcohol use disorder. Increase this to 5 drinks in a row (or whatever it takes to reach a BAC of .08) and you have a binge drinker. After five days of binge drinking, you qualify as a heavy alcohol user. If any of these patterns describe your behavior after drug addiction treatment, then the need for alcohol addiction treatment may not be far behind.

Abstinence in Drug Addiction Treatment

The moment that first drink touches your lips, it can set off a chain reaction that ultimately leads to disaster. A person may never have abused alcohol before leaving drug addiction treatment, yet now find themselves with a crippling alcohol use disorder. In many cases, someone leaves a California addiction treatment facility only to drink and quickly wind up using their drug of choice. The alcohol did not become a new addiction for them, but it did set off their old cravings.

No matter how the chain of events occurs, Aspire Health Network can get you back on track. Both drug withdrawal and alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous if not properly treated, so we may recommend a facility such as First Choice Detox. There, patients will receive proper withdrawal treatment before graduating to a higher level of care. As you work through the next phases of treatment, your team will help you focus on where things went wrong and how you can avoid relapse in the future—whether on alcohol, your drug of choice, or something else entirely.

To answer any questions you may have regarding cross-addiction to drugs and alcohol or how Aspire’s facilities provide quality treatment to those who need it, please contact us today at 844-278-2919 for more information.