No doubt struggling with drug addiction is a frightening, frustrating, and a downright complicated journey for both the individual and their loved ones. Perhaps you have tried getting sober in the past. Maybe you have tried different options, but none of them have stuck the way you had hoped.
However, do you need formal treatment to beat the addiction? Alternatively, is it possible to stop drug use at home? Let’s get the info that you need to know.
Is There Such Thing as A Drug Addiction Cure?
While it may seem promising and alluring, the word cure is often far-fetching and unrealistic. Most experts agree that recovery from addiction requires lifelong work and maintenance. One does not simply “solve” the addiction. Instead, you will need to prepare for managing triggers, avoiding relapse, and learning how to implement healthier ways of thinking and behaving with the world around you.
While everyone’s recovery process looks different, there is always a sense of work involved. Even the best treatment in the world does not “fix” one’s problem. It only provides a roadmap for how to manage life without drugs or alcohol.
The journey towards healing is not paved on the path of quick fixes. In fact, the journey can be lengthy and arduous, but the challenge is worth it.
Therefore, the word cure is often misguided. Instead, it tends to be far more preferable to consider the phrase, in recovery, or, maintaining sobriety.
Understanding the Detox Process
Detox is the first step towards recovery. It can also be one of the most challenging steps for someone to take.
That’s because addiction typically entails a physical dependence for the substance. In other words, you develop a tolerance to the substance’s effects and potency. Over time, you need to take more of the drug to achieve the desired effect.
Dependence also entails withdrawal. When you suddenly stop or even reduce your substance intake, you risk experiencing withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person, and they also vary depending on the types of substances used. That said, the symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening.
The detox process consists of the body releasing harmful toxins associated with the abused substances. That said, the overarching goal is for patients to transition from acute intoxication to medical stabilization successfully. The length of time for this to happen varies from a few days to several weeks.
Due to the potential risks and complications, most addiction treatment professionals advise that individuals only undergo detox when under medical supervision. Having structure, support, and ongoing evaluation can mitigate some of the discomfort associated with detox- and it can also provide the intervention needed should medical problems arise.
When to Avoid At-Home Detox
As mentioned, detox symptoms tend to be uncomfortable and distressing. Furthermore, detoxing from certain substances including alcohol or benzodiazepines may be fatal.
Alcohol detox can result in delirium tremens, which refer to a medically unstable state characterized by hallucinations, delusions, confusion, fever, restlessness, and potentially deadly seizures. It’s estimated that up to 5% of individuals withdrawing from alcohol experience delirium tremens.
Benzodiazepines like Xanax or Klonopin can also cause life-threatening seizures. When the body becomes dependent on benzodiazepines, serious side effects (convulsions, seizures, and psychosis) can emerge once withdrawing. The cold-turkey method for quitting benzodiazepines may have fatal consequences. In medical detox, trained professionals can determine whether it’s appropriate to maintain a taper schedule.
Finally, while other drugs may not have direct, fatal consequences, the withdrawal process can still lead to life-or-death consequences. For example, many people withdrawing from opioids (like heroin) find the process so uncomfortable that they relapse. As a result of a slightly decreased tolerance, they may be at a higher risk of taking more than the body can handle- which results in overdosing.
It is estimated that nearly 8 million Americans struggle with both substance use disorders and one or more other mental disorders. This phenomenon is known as co-occurring disorders, and the detox process can become complicated if all present issues are not adequately addressed.
That’s because the drug withdrawal process can exacerbate mental health symptoms. For example, someone with depression may find themselves feeling more apathetic or hopeless during the withdrawal phase. He or she may be prone to high-risk symptoms like suicidal behavior.
Finally, if the individual has medical conditions (i.e., cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases), the detox process can also complicate one’s general health. That’s why medical supervision is so essential. Treatment encompasses taking care of both the mind and the body. Excluding one of those critical areas may be a recipe for a relapse disaster.
Detoxing Safely at Home
In general, experts agree to avoid at-home detox in most cases. However, for people facing financial concerns or mandatory obligations related to your job or childcare, this may be the only option.
Before even committing to the detox process, it is essential to understand the discomfort that withdrawal tends to bring. Unfortunately, this discomfort (and the desire to avoid it) tends to be a significant trigger that evokes people to relapse. Whether you have detoxed at home before or not, you should prepare yourself by learning the different drug withdrawal timelines. This knowledge will help you anticipate what you should expect to feel each day.
Many people prefer to use maintenance medication (i.e., Valium, Suboxone) to alleviate the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. When taken in medical detox, clients must take these medications as prescribed and as designated by an appropriate schedule under clinical supervision.
That’s because, even despite good intentions, these medications can be easily abused. At home, individuals face a higher risk for abusing such substances, which can lead to even more complications during the detox.
It is also essential to identify the potential triggers that could arise in an at-home detox process. Your environment may be one of the most considerable disadvantages you face when detoxing at home. From knowing exactly where to purchase drugs to living in a house where others use, it is imperative to create an action-based plan for managing any of these potential problems.
Finally, seeking support is crucial. It would be best if you discussed your intentions with a close friend or family member that you trust. While it is not their job to “hold you accountable,” they can be powerful allies in helping you once the “going gets tough.”
Sustaining Long-Term Recovery
Detox is only the first step for achieving recovery. Therefore, detox alone does not constitute as treatment. It is merely the first place for evaluation and stabilization.
Many people enter in substance use treatment after completing detox. Most detox centers work with their clients to facilitate appropriate referrals for treatment aftercare. These aftercare options will vary depending on the addiction severity and a variety of other factors including one’s motivation for change and external circumstances.
Through counseling, therapy, and groups, treatment teaches people how to manage cravings, cope with co-occurring disorders, and learn healthier ways to live. It also introduces clients to other like-minded individuals struggling with similar battles. This creates a sense that nobody is alone, that everybody can benefit from community support and strength.
Core Tenants of Drug Addiction Treatments
Optimal treatment sets people up for optimal success after completion. The work in treatment is temporary, but a lifestyle in recovery can be permanent. Many successful people include some or all of the following elements as part of their overall well-being.
Healthy Living Environment
A healthy living environment refers to having safe people who can support your recovery. You need to feel like you can trust your home. Your environment needs to be conducive to your wellness. Sometimes, this means changing where you live geographically. Other times, it means obtaining a new roommate.
Therapy is a fantastic resource for individuals to increase their self-awareness and learn healthier ways of coping with distress. Therapy provides a professional and nonjudgmental space for clients to explore a variety of issues related to addiction, mental health concerns, and lifestyle stressors associated with relationships, work, and family.
Many people take medication to support both their mental and physical well-being throughout recovery. Medication needs may vary over time, and it is essential to discuss any side effects or changes with your doctor or psychiatrist.
There are numerous support groups designed for individuals in recovery. Support groups include 12-Step Groups (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous), secular groups like Smart Recovery, LifeRing Secular Recovery), and faith-based groups (Celebrate Recovery). It may also include psychotherapy groups facilitated by trained clinicians discussing different topics each week.
While there may not be a drug addiction cure, there is certainly hope and relief available to those who are struggling. We are available for support 24/7. Contact Recovery Connection today at 866-812-8231 to speak with an addiction professional.