I have worked with several hundred alcoholics and addicts since 1989 when I first worked in this field. In all that time I have come to the conclusion that one of the most dangerous things that leads to relapse is fantasies of “controlled use.” I have talked with addicts of all shapes and sizes, men, women, all ages, and all races and I have observed a consistent theme with the vast majority. At some time in their treatment it comes out that they believe they will some day, be able to return to using or drinking in a “controlled way.” This is a problem and very often, in fact, almost always, results in relapse to problematic use.

This is problematic for several reasons:

*They don’t really get involved in recovery since they are just biding their time till they can start using again.
*They fantasize about using while they are clean and sober which leads to triggers and unhealthy emotions and attitudes.
*They are more likely to put themselves in dangerous situations—where they will be around people who are using or drinking.
*They continue to associate with people who use.
*They tend to live in a fantasy world and don’t recognize the dangers around them.
*They don’t listen to feedback from people around them since they think they know better.
*Their thinking and efforts are focused on proving they are not addicted, as a result they are fighting the wrong battle and easily tripped up for an early relapse to problematic using.

The bottom line is this: people who believe they will someday be able to return to “controlled use” tend to return to problematic use very quickly.

The solution to this is to embrace step one from the 12 Step programs, “we admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or whatever) and our lives had become unmanageable.” Completely embracing that you are powerless is necessary to prevent relapse. People who think they can return to “controlled use.” do not believe they are powerless.



Author's Bio: 

Tim has a masters degree in Mental Health Counseling and is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. He has 20 years of experience as a therapist working with mental health, addictions, and co-occurring disorders.

Tim states, "I am very passionate about living a balanced, healthy life in recovery since I know the benefits in my life and struggles with additive behaviors."