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Opiate addiction Support for coping with Opiate addiction and Opiate addiction treatment.

 
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  #1  
Old 31-03-2012, 10:18
G_nome G_nome is offline
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Abstinence and the 12 Steps

I just have this question that keeps arising in my head, as i've been to a few NA meetings, i'm off to a 12 steps rehab in 5 days and one of the five precepts of Buddhism, of which i've started following, is to abstain from intoxicants. Both abstinence based ye see.
So what i'm struggling to get my head around at this moment is as to why substances such as caffeine and nicotine are seemingly widely accepted amongst the 12 step community.
I asked a friend who's an avid follower of the 12 step programme why everyone at NA meetings seem to turn a blind eye to abstinence when consuming caffeine or nicotine, and his answer was that they're not mind altering substances. At the time i accepted his answer and moved on. But i've since gave it some more thought, and i'm sorry, but caffeine is certainly mind altering. If i drink too much caffeine i start to feel anxious, my mind races, i don't feel as quite with it and then there's also the crash, which can include symptoms such as depression. Nevermind caffeine withdrawals.
I'm also friends with another follower of the 12 steps who drinks copious amounts of caffeine, right up until she goes to bed at night. I can clearly see the effects it has on her, and she seems quite aware of it too.
So why then, when people speak of abstinence at NA meetings, do they not include caffeine or nicotine in their remit of substances we must abstain from?
I just find it a bit hypocritical really.
I hope some bright soul on here can enlighten me.

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Very interesting question
This is a great question. I hope I can help.
  #2  
Old 31-03-2012, 11:31
Black Transit Blues Black Transit Blues is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

Probably because the effects of caffeine and nicotine are more subtle, but if they were fair dinkum about abstinence from all psychoactive drugs both would be off limits..

But then you wouldn't see many people at NA meetings, not from my experiences of them - nearly every one there seems to be a chain smoker.
  #3  
Old 31-03-2012, 12:19
pinky808 pinky808 is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

I've wondered this too, as it's kind of contradicting to say that you must not do anything... it makes me feel uncomfortable because I don't want to have to lie to them if say I had a glass of wine with a girlfriend a few nights before or I smoked some weed here and there. I consider myself to be sober because I'm not using my drug of choice (oxy) but at the same time their program (and the out-patient program that I am attending) says you need to have complete abstinence. I'm still wrapping my head around all this because I understand that an addict is an addict but I'm not addicted to weed or alcohol, and I'm not substituting it. In fact I've rarely taken part on it.

Some NA people have ego trips as well... not all... but some.
  #4  
Old 31-03-2012, 17:18
beentheredonethatagain beentheredonethatagain is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

its called " Narcotics " anonymous not caffine or nicotine anonymous. even though meth and coke arent narcotics they still are included. the answer in short is also that no-one has gone to jail for drinking too much coffee or smoking too many cigs.
  #5  
Old 31-03-2012, 17:28
ianzombie ianzombie is nu online
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

But as you say its called 'Narcotics' anonymous, and yet they include other substances.
So why not Caffeine and Nicoteen.

Im not sure that legality is the answer, or only drugs that can result in prison time is the either.
Do they not allow members who are addicted to legal drugs, such as Research Chemicals, Synthetic Cannabinoids and similiar?
And what about legally obtained prescription medication?
  #6  
Old 31-03-2012, 17:36
beentheredonethatagain beentheredonethatagain is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

Quote:
Originally Posted by ianzombie View Post
But as you say its called 'Narcotics' anonymous, and yet they include other substances.
So why not Caffeine and Nicoteen.

Im not sure that legality is the answer, or only drugs that can result in prison time is the either.
Do they not allow members who are addicted to legal drugs, such as Research Chemicals, Synthetic Cannabinoids and similiar?
And what about legally obtained prescription medication?
okay good questions , I believe the key is in the first step, Its called being powerless over your addiction, If you take something and your life becomes un-mangable.
  #7  
Old 31-03-2012, 20:06
G_nome G_nome is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

So if i take something, say mdma for instance, and my life doesn't become unmanagable, then that's ok then?
  #8  
Old 31-03-2012, 21:03
SENOR_EKT0R SENOR_EKT0R is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

G-nome, although I greatly agree with much of the premise in your logic, I have to depart in the overall message you're sending as well home in on the intent of 12 step programs. First of all, 12 step programs aren't perfect but, neither are we humans. But there needs to be an understanding of the major sovereignties which dominate 12 step programs: 1- they are intended for an addict to control their addiction which got them into the program to begin with. 2- they are established as tenants of goodwill and acceptance. Something the addicts tends to lose in their abusive practices.

If it wasn't for the fact that 12 step programs we so open, embracing, tolerant, and accepting then, it would almost certainly not attain the success rate it does in drug of choice abstinence. Yes they do turn a blind eye to caffeine and nicotine and yes, it could be said that many practice a substitute addiction when it comes to twelve steps and those substances. Unfortunately, it's all about the baby steps towards holistic mental health. It's hard enough to stop a hard core addiction. I do understand that a person could never achieve complete peace if they're practicing or bonded to some addiction, regardless of it being substance based or not. However, once again, baby steps.

I believe it's up to the individual to assess the overall health and determine what is best for them. It's one of the core fundamentals of 12 steps. Once you stop the denial, once you've admitted to yourself and to your higher power that you're helpless then, healing begins. Same must be in the journey of breaking all addictions: porn, smoking, caffeine, gambling, sex, or whatever floats. We all have our struggles. It's up to the individual. I think the fact that 12 steps says to no to getting high and drinking is huge in and of itself. The aforementioned addictions and the others not listed must go into a separate category and self journey.

Hope this explains it.

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Good explanation.
  #9  
Old 31-03-2012, 21:22
G_nome G_nome is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

Thanks for taking the time to explain that. Like i said, it's just some questions that keep popping up in my head, and what with me soon going to a 12 steps rehab i was just searching for some answers to my questions.
  #10  
Old 31-03-2012, 21:28
SENOR_EKT0R SENOR_EKT0R is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

G-nome, I'm really glad you're open to ideas and I think it's awesome to find when people can both question things and be open to all answers. That's unfortunately an animal which is quickly becoming extinct. As I understand you are new to recovery. Congrats on you starting that journey.

Just remember, us addicts tend to want to be in control. As such, we will always question things but not always be open to conflicting answers.

The journey we take is our own just as, everyone else has their journey. 12 stops is a bond which sews us together to help with that journey. But as hard as it is, we must allow the other to make their journey. We may suggest things from time to time but don't be surprised if you see they're not open to an idea. It's our disease in practice.

Really appreciated your post. Best of luck.
  #11  
Old 31-03-2012, 21:32
Mersann Mersann is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

I very much like the G_nome's question, and I think the answer might lie in the combination of two reasons already mentioned, namely the fact that the effect of Nicotine and Caffeine are more subtle and the legality, and the perception of something as being a drug which is directly related to these two factors. Let me elaborate:

Prototypical (like drugs with regard to which basically everyone would agree that they are drugs) 'recreational' (non-medicinal) drugs would be Cocaine and Heroin. In spite of being so different pharmacologically, they share a number of properties (I came up with these, there are probably more):

1) They are illegal
2) They are highly addictive
3) They have extremely detrimental effects on health (not starting in on the debate whether it's only because of their being illegal, doesn't matter for the public perception)
4) They are easy to critically overdose on
5) They impair many skills, e.g. even around this forum, most everyone would agree that it is totally unacceptable to drive under the influence of either of them, because this might be an extreme risk to others.

2 and 5 together, IMO, lead to things like neglecting social contacts etc.

Now, individuals have different perceptions of what is most important in classifying things as drugs, which is a vague term. You get people around this forum that consider Cannabis to only be a herb and not a drug, even though 1) applies to Cannabis, but obviously 2 to 4 do not apply to Cannabis in an extent that could be compared to Heroin or Cocaine, while others think that Cannabis is a "real" drug, whereas alcohol isn't.

Many people don't consider alcohol to be a real drug, in part because 1) doesn't apply -- 2 to 5 do apply, but somewhat less so than with regard to Cocaine or Heroin. They might come to a different conclusion if they were well-informed about the actual effects of Alcohol. Obviously, in 12-step groups people come there because they realise they have an addiction problem, and that besides being addicted (fact 2), they notice that their addiction actually causes other problems, in spite of alcohol being legal.

With Nicotine, 2 does apply (although less than to Heroin e.g.), 3 does to a certain extent -- it is often only noticed after decades. So it is on the end of the spectrum where it does not really bear much of a resemblance to the prototypical drugs with regard to the properties ascribed to them.

With Caffeine, that's even less the case. Caffeine is only slightly/moderately addictive, caffeine doesn't lead to big health issues even after several decades of usage, and with both Nicotine and Caffeine, you don't typically notice when people use them (although you may notice when people are addicted and haven't used them), and unless people really overdose, you wouldn't say that they are fine to drive a car.

I believe that this kind of idea is out there with regard to the 12-step system. Nicotine and Caffeine are not considered drugs, or not enough of a drug, because they are no prototypical drug with regard to much of how "we" (maybe I should explicitly exclude many of the members on the forum here, but talking about society in general) perceive drugs. Scientific definitions with regard to drugs which often are vague or ambiguous, too, and usage of the term 'psychoactive substances' do not play that much of a role with how most people perceive the whole "drugs thing".

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Well thought out and detailed post.

Last edited by Mersann; 31-03-2012 at 21:38.
  #12  
Old 01-04-2012, 08:39
aikidoka aikidoka is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

Having been through the rehab experience myself, I can say that caffeine and tobacco are almost universally used by addicts in those places. The thing is, they are MOOD altering substances, not mind altering, and while that can also be dangerous to certain individuals, fags and coffee are the lesser of the evils when it comes to getting through rehab.

Many addicts I know couldn't have kicked heroin/opiates without having coffee and cigarettes to see them through, and that includes me. These days I don't drink coffee, and haven't since my rehab stint in 89; nor do I smoke cigarettes, though I do enjoy the odd cigar (not inhaled) infrequently with a music buddy. I love coffee but it really gets me speedy and jangly and as an opiate fiend I hate feeling anything but warm and safe. I also loved smoking cigarettes but I know that would eventually ruin my health so I took up Aikido instead.

I like to think the Buddhist way of no intoxicants at all is a very cool way to live, though it often becomes semantics when you eat the likes of non-organic foods or genetically modified foods. Where does one draw the line? Breathing the air in most large cities around the world introduces toxins and all manner of chemicals into our bodies, so do we go and live where the air is clean and there is no possibility of contamination? We have to be realistic about living a life worth living.

I'm just playing Devil's Advocate; whatever gets us through the day without hurting us is fine with me. If you think coffee is a problem, like opiates became, then you must stop drinking it. If smoking is killing you, then you need to stop. I guess everyone is different but I have found most people serious about recovery cannot be comfortable within themselves if they continue smoking after they've successfully quit opiates (or taking any other drug for that matter). The same 'tools', philosophies and programs can be used to kick any addiction, not just smack, dope or other drugs.

Bottom line is that if you 'feel' you are breaking your own 'rules' by taking other substances, then you must stop taking them. Your question about MDMA is valid; if you have no problem with it, why then shouldn't you take it? Only you can answer that one. However, as an addict, I know that ANY substance could become a problem for me, as could ANY compulsive/obsessive behaviour, so my life's mission is to be aware of all the things that may harm me and steer the fuck clear of them!

I hope this adds something that hasn't already been said and I wish you all the very best in rehab -I guarantee you'll love and hate it in similar amounts.

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Good explanation, adds a lot, and offers a new perspective. Thanks.
  #13  
Old 01-04-2012, 11:56
Black Transit Blues Black Transit Blues is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

NA forbids Alcohol and that is legal so I don't think it has anything to with legality.

When NA began back in the late forties the health risks associated with tobacco smoking were not widely accepted and most adult males smoked so there would have seemed little point to including it on the "banned substance list" so to speak.

The interesting question is why do such a high percentage of drug addicts smoke tobacco?In Australia about 25% of adults smoke, but I would estimate that about 90% of Heroin addicts smoke despite the fact that cigs are very expensive down here.
  #14  
Old 01-04-2012, 17:16
brettjv brettjv is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

Folks here talk about what's 'allowed' and such in NA ... almost like they think you can be 'kicked out' or something.

I just want to make something clear ... there's no such thing. You may be kicked out of your group or a particular meeting hall if you are constantly disrupting meetings or otherwise acting in an entirely inappropriate manner (high or not), but you can't be 'kicked out' of AA or NA.

The only 'requirement' for 'membership' (and you don't have to be a 'member' to go to most meetings), is a DESIRE to stop using/drinking.

The 'rule' in regards to substance-use (at least in meetings outside of rehabs) is that you're not supposed to go up and get your 'chip' and associated accolades at each of the prescribed 'clean' time periods (30 days, 90 days, 1 year, etc) if you have not abstained from mind-altering substances, of which legally prescribed meds taken as directed, caffeine, and nicotine are 'agreed upon' as not 'counting' against this proscription.

It's not a Buddhist program, it's not a 'medical' program ... it's just people and what's 'suggested' and what's 'not suggested' by the Program is just based on member's collective past experience. That experience says that caffeine and nicotine are not 'gateway drugs' to getting you re-addicted to the drugs that actually wreck your life and put you back in misery, so they're not 'suggested against'.

There's really no need to overthink this whole thing, and even if you find you can get away w/pot smoking once in a while, and do ... the only thing that 'means' is that you 'shouldn't' go up and get your chip. But you still 'can' because ultimately it's up to you to decide what's 'clean' to you and what isn't. If others there 'know' you're still smoking pot, they may roll their eyes if you go get a chip, but nobody is likely to stand up and ridicule you ... or even object in any way.

As an aside, I think if there's any drug out there an addict MAY be able to get away w/doing once in a while w/o ending up re-addicted, it's pot ... I sure as shit would HIGHLY advise any addict against messing with ecstasy though.

Last edited by brettjv; 01-04-2012 at 17:22.
  #15  
Old 01-04-2012, 18:15
Black Transit Blues Black Transit Blues is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

Brettjv How are you man? They do constantly emphasise that this a program of abstinence from all drugs including Alcolhol so while there is only one formal rule as far as attending meetings go, there is more or less a defacto banned substance list.

I have two or three beers some Saturday nights after a hard week of work, I think the chances of that leading me back to smack are pretty remote (in fact early on when I was still getting bad cravings after work I think it saved me from busting a couple of times - in fact I'm damn sure it did) but I know my sponsor would not approve.

Please note I am not recommeding this approach for others best off doing what they say,but for me the difference between opiates and beer is that if I had a shot on a Saturday night when I woke up on Sunday morning my brain would be screaming for another blast, if I have a couple of beers on a Saturday night I don't wake up on Sunday thinking about beer.

Will the demon drink get me in the long run, will three cans of beer on a Satureday night while watching the Harness racing turn into Alcoholism - only time will tell.

Black Transit Blues added 23 Minutes and 9 Seconds later...

I MUST EMPHASISE AGAIN I AM NOT RECOMENDING THAT ANYONE USES BOOZE TO COPE WITH DOPE CRAVINGS ON THE CONTRARY I WOULD ADVISE AGAINST IT, I have a couple of times on Saturdays after work but I am pretty confident I can handle booze have always been able to take it or leave it in the past, also I am a fool.

If you can tolerate it(I cant it makes me paranoid) I would be agree with brettjv that weed is pretty benign but for one thing.Weed keeps you in contact with that whole street drug culture, wherever there is weed other drugs are never that far away, so unless you are growing a little bit yourself I would strongly advise against it.

Black Transit Blues added 1 Minutes and 55 Seconds later...

Sorry about all the typos I am trying to give up smoking and it is playing havoc with my concentration.

Last edited by Black Transit Blues; 01-04-2012 at 18:15. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
  #16  
Old 02-04-2012, 09:44
MageYouLook MageYouLook is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

The interesting thing is that these substances are very mind altering but our minds have been altered! By our I mean the general public. Not in the sense that a crazy person would say the government tries to manipulate us. More in the sense that these substances are accepted as normal. Any form of stimulant, which includes coffee and nicotine, is definitely mind altering by the definition of mind altering. These things are just widely accepted as normal.

A lot of the time something like coffee and nicotine are much more reasonable than something like coke for example. In that case the relative effect is much less. However I believe it should be made common knowledge that coffee and nicotine are mind altering drugs.
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Old 02-04-2012, 18:16
brettjv brettjv is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

Quote:
Originally Posted by MageYouLook View Post
The interesting thing is that these substances are very mind altering but our minds have been altered! By our I mean the general public. Not in the sense that a crazy person would say the government tries to manipulate us. More in the sense that these substances are accepted as normal. Any form of stimulant, which includes coffee and nicotine, is definitely mind altering by the definition of mind altering. These things are just widely accepted as normal.

A lot of the time something like coffee and nicotine are much more reasonable than something like coke for example. In that case the relative effect is much less. However I believe it should be made common knowledge that coffee and nicotine are mind altering drugs.
No, they ARE, you're right. However, most people's bodies adapt to these drugs pretty quickly, so they no longer 'feel' mind-altering. Most people also stabilize at a certain dose due to a ceiling effect (I've smoked about the same number of smokes a day for like 10 years, and my caffeine dose has been similarly stable for like 25 years), unlike the way it usually works with 'real' drugs, where people tend to just keep going up and up. Most importantly though these drugs are not directly linked with completely fucking up your life, going to jail, spending every last $ you make on buying, etc.

To be honest though, as I've shared before, I believe opioids would basically work the same way as cigarettes for the majority of opioid addicts if you could simply go down to the corner drug store and buy pure pharmaceutical dilaudid and OC and stuff like that ... it's mainly the illegality (and hence extremely high cost and constant supply disruptions) that makes opioid addiction so very devastating and miserable for most people.

Of course, the side-effects of their illegality is also what makes most people quit, or never start, so ... it's good in that regard. Also, there's an awful lot of people who are just straight up DUMB when it comes to their drug consumption, so 'legal' dope would lead to a lot of overdoses as well, so that's another reason why it's probably 'best' that everyone can't just get opioids freely.

Last edited by brettjv; 02-04-2012 at 18:31.
  #18  
Old 02-04-2012, 18:36
Troussman Troussman is offline
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Re: Abstinence and the 12 Steps

Good topic Gnome. The first rehab i went to did not allow smoking unless you were in detox. Their thinking was that nicotine keeps the addict mentality intact more then if someone wasnt smoking during early recovery. Or in other words it triggered the same addiction pathways in the brain that respond to drugs. There are lots of scientific research results out there that does claim regular smoking does make it harder to recover from the addict mentality. I certainly know plenty of recovering addicts with many years of clean time who smoke like chimneys, its whatever works for them. As far as meetings go i see lots and lots of people drinking coffee and smoking like theres no tomorrow. Although it can turn into a substitution and a way of escaping from different moods. So yes it can be taken overboard but then again for most people nicotine & caffeine does not immediately destroy lives. So if it helps them stay away from their DOC in early recovery then all the power to them. I rarely smoke but i do find that when i have those really bad cravings a nice newport gives me a little relief.

If its bothering you that much at meetings then i would just try to separate myself from it, dont let it get to you, let other people run their own programs of recovery and simply focus on yourself. Its not worth your time.

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12 steps, abstinence, caffeine, nicotine

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