Addiction is addiction. In one sense this is obviously true, but the choice of substance can often play an unexpected part in recovery.'

At Build on Belief we have always held to the position that their is no hierarchy to substance use. If someone regards their use of a substance as problematic, that's all that matters. Yet at Build on Belief, we have noticed an odd trend in the recovery journey's of people who substance use issue was drugs when compared to those where alcohol was the problematic substance. 

It seems to us that those individuals in recovery whose substance use was drug based, especially heroin and crack cocaine, are more prone to relapse after a period of years, than those where alcohol was the problem. Why do we think this is the case? It seems to us that the root of the problem lies in the lifestyle associated with the substance in question.

While we recognise that every individual's journey through life is unique, and that this is a generalised observation, it has occurred to us that many of the people we have met who struggled with their alcohol use, were in many other respects 'solid citizens.' By that we mean that they often have a previous history of employment and a wider social network in society at large. Very often criminal offences, where they exist at all, are minor and tend to be things like drunk and disorderly. Having dealt with their substance use, they slip quietly back into their old lives. 

Conversely those with long histories of drug use tend very often never to have had long term periods of employment, if any at all, and their criminal records are often far more extensive and colourful. To put it simply, they often seem to have spent much of their lives 'walking on the wild side' and their connections to, and relationship with wider society are far less than their drinking counter-parts. There is no 'old life' to go back to.

Why does this make them more prone to relapse later on in recovery? We think boredom can play an important part. For people who have always lived as outsiders, reintegration into wider society is something of a challenge. We think that for many, there comes a day a few years down the line when living the nine-to-five life, the grind of paying the bills and trying to live by the rules becomes tedious, and you open your eyes one morning and think, 'Is this it? Is this what I get for working so hard at my recovery?' At that point, old demons can raise their head.

Perhaps it is important for those who identify as having been one of the 'wild bunch',  that finding ways to keep excitement in your life is particularly vital. For those of us for who conforming to the rules and behaviour of society was always something of a problem, there can be a realisation in later recovery that it's still a problem, and we don't really want to play. 

Build on Belief has met many such people who have taken up hobbies such as scuba diving, or who travel far and wide at every opportunity. it's very hard to maintain a successful recovery without reintegrating into wider society, but excitement, fun and perhaps a little risk taking is vital for some of us to maintain it. What do you think?