By all means I can't compare my own struggle with substance abuse to that of someone who is an alcoholic or heroin/coke addict. Though addiction, in essence, is all the same with whatever substance involved, I do believe there are varying degrees with how people manage through the addiction, and quite frankly, the choice of substance is usually what dictates how difficult recovery will be.
I learned a great deal during my year of outpatient therapy, but mostly I learned how lucky I was that it was only a mere smoking habit I had. True, it was VERY difficult for me to psychologically break the habit of smoking every day, but I didn't have the crazy physical withdraws that some more severe addicts do have.
Luckily, I am still able to drink alcohol from time to time. I think one of the reasons I never became an alcoholic is because I lack the enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the system. So often after two or three drinks, I get that "Asian Flush" and usually can't continue on drinking. In high school, the kids used to tease me for looking like a frigging boiled lobster after drinking. However the boys at school loved it because for them, me turning red meant GO!
Heroin was never an option. During a time where I probably would have dabbled in it, I went the other way and instead did volunteer work at the Lower East Side Needle Exchange on Avenue C in New York City. What I saw there would forever scare me from ever developing a curiosity to try it.
Coke I did a few times, but usually I'd end up with a sinus infection lasting for weeks afterwards. Thus not really allowing me to develop a habit. Pills were boring to me and mushrooms or acid was always hard to find for some reason. So in the end, it was always just me and Mary.
And as for the ganja, that continual habit has become a thing of the past. Since my "episode," I can count the number of times I've been high on both hands. Though I know "recovery" to a lot of people means complete abstinence from all mind-alternating substances, to be honest, I think I'm at a point now where I can finally just enjoy a casual drink or smoke every once in a while. I still need to manage that though. THIS I know I will have to do for the rest of my life.