Is Abstinence Required for Addiction Treatment?

A diabetic is told they must refrain from eating high sugar foods in order to maintain their health. Every Time they eat sugar, they risk a serious health complication and push themselves closer to long term complications, which could result in deadly diseases. Most diabetics become extremely regimented in their diets, avoiding sugar and scrutinously managing their insulin. There are others, however, who disregard their health. Regularly, they indulge in high sugar sweets and treats, only to lead a system crash or worse repercussions. Eventually, they develop chronic issues, lose limbs, eyesight, or suffer an untimely death in poor health. The choice was theirs to make. Either stop eating high sugar foods or suffer health consequences. Not continuing to eat high sugar foods is the obvious answer. Yet, for the diabetic who cannot say no to high sugar foods, the answer of “no” is not obvious.

An addict is told they must refrain from consuming mind altering substances which are not prescribed by a doctor for the rest of their lives in order to maintain their health. Drugs and alcohol can be instantaneously fatal as well as develop larger, life threatening problems over time. An alcoholic might not have the same risk as an intravenous drug user, but over time a doctor might assert that “one more drink” could mean the end of a life. Every time an addict or alcoholic relapses, they are one step closer to life threatening illnesses or a fatal overdose. Rates of abstinence in recovery are not as high as they could be. Despite being well aware of the consequences, addicts and alcoholics face chronic relapse if they do not commit to their choice of abstinence. For those on the outside of addiction, the answer is obvious. After experiencing the damage of addiction, an addict should choose not to continue engaging in the use of drugs and alcohol. Yet, for the addict or alcoholic, the choice isn’t always that obvious. The choice is their own to make. They either stop using drugs and alcohol or they have to face potentially grave consequences.

Abstinence is not required for addiction treatment. There are no standardized requirements for treatment of drug and alcohol addiction worldwide. Evidence based treatments are those which have proven successful in reducing symptoms of drug and alcohol addiction while contributing to long term abstinence. Abstinence itself has been proven to be the most effective way of staving off chronic addiction issues and relapse. Long term recovery is made most possible when accompanied by long term abstinence. For the best health, wellness, and prosperity, abstinence should be considered a requirement. However, it is a choice, a choice that those who are in addiction treatment have to face every day.


Through residential treatment programmes like the one at Smarmore Castle Private Clinic, clients learn the necessary skills for maintaining long term abstinence. 12 step philosophy, clinical therapy, and complementary therapies create a well rounded program for men and women to create real change in their lives. At Smarmore, it’s possible. For more information, speak with one of our caring staff members today at +353 41 214 5111.

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Smarmore Castle has the facilities and staff to help you regain control of your life, request a call-back from one of our professionals today. The choice you make today could change your life forever.

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