To cease using chemicals to which the person is addicted to. When a person is abstinent, they avoid all mind altering substances completely. To completely abstain (refrain) from the use of any substance or engaging in any behaviours or habits which the individual has come to recognise as harmful to themselves and others, or which may interfere with the normal conduct of their lives. The term can also be used in reference to avoiding certain patterns of behaviour. The person makes a choice to stop and does not engage in these behaviours or take substances again. Abstinence is normally used when referring to recovery addictions to alcohol and drugs, sex, eating disorders and/or gambling. A 12 Step fellowship is a way of maintaining abstinence indefinitely as it provides a support system for coping with life on a daily basis, one day at a time.
The complete avoidance of all mood and mind altering substances and addictive behaviours (gambling, acting out on eating or sexual conduct) is what is most commonly referred to as abstinence. Some recovering addicts and alcoholics have been known to go through serious medical procedures, even operations needing General Anaesthetics, with only anti-inflammatory medication for pain management. Their concern is that once you’ve been addicted – your body does not know the difference between medication needed for pain and drugs to get high. Often drugs from the Opiate or Benzodiazepines families can be particularly dangerous as they have a profound ‘feel good’ factor. (Morephine, pethedine, Valium)
To refrain from the usage of chemicals which a person may have become addicted to. Discontinuance of further use of a drug. The conscious choice not to use drugs or alcohol – to abstain. The decision to end the use of a drug as part of the process of recovery from addiction.