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Getting Clean and Sober from Drugs and Alcohol

Getting clean and sober and staying that way are the main goals of any drug or alcohol treatment program. Achieving this goal is often possible with a combination of intensive intervention and long-term follow-up care.

Recognizing the problem

addictionBefore you can get clean and sober, you need to recognize the need for treatment. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 20 million people in the U.S. have a problem with drug or alcohol abuse but have not yet sought treatment.

If your drug or alcohol use is interfering with work, school, home life, or relationships, you may need help recovering from an alcohol or drug addiction. In some cases, the addict needs to recognize the circumstances that enable and encourage drug or alcohol abuse so that he or she can address the underlying problems that need to be corrected in order for treatment to succeed.

Treatment options

Treatment for drug and alcohol abuse often needs to be tailored to the specific individual seeking treatment. Not all treatment methods work for all people in the same way. The specific type of addiction matters as well, and physical addiction may require different treatment options than psychological addiction.

The most common forms of treatment involve behavioral therapy, individual counseling, and group counseling. In some cases, medication is necessary to wean the individual off of the drug or to counteract withdrawal symptoms that could hamper the patient’s ability to get clean and sober.

Treatment can be done in a hospital, a rehab center, or at home using outpatient services. The more severe the addiction, the more likely it is that the addict will need to check into an inpatient facility to recover fully. Inpatient facilities offer the advantage of 24-hour monitoring and assistance, which limits temptations that might induce the patient to start using drugs or alcohol again.

The first stage of treatment for most drug and alcohol abuse recovery programs is detoxification, which gets the drugs or alcohol out of the patient’s system. After detoxification, the patient must learn to live without the drugs or alcohol, which may mean addressing underlying mental disorders, life stressors, and medical issues.

Once the initial treatment is complete, the recovering addict should work with his or her doctor to develop a plan to keep from relapsing and using drugs in the future. Relapse prevention is just as important as the initial detox and treatment plans, since any failure at this stage can undo all the progress already achieved.


Withdrawal symptoms are a big challenge to recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. Some drugs cause severe withdrawal symptoms when the user suddenly stops taking the drug. This can lead the user to relapse in an attempt to ease the withdrawal symptoms.

Understanding Addiction Recovery

recovery Addiction recovery is a long process that involves a few different stages before a person can be considered free from dependence on alcohol or drugs. Not everyone goes through each stage in the same way, and the length of time required depends on the person’s individual personality and biology, as well as on the specific substance being abused.

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For these types of drugs, a controlled tapering off of the drug done under the care of a trained medical professional in an inpatient setting can help control withdrawal symptoms and prevent a relapse. Relapses after the conclusion of treatment are another potential challenge that former drug users face. The longer a person spends in treatment, the less likely that person is to have a relapse.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the length of time a person spends in treatment and follow-up care is critical to achieving success at quitting drugs or alcohol. Enlisting the support of family and friends is another important component of treatment that can pose a challenge, especially if many of the recovering addict’s friends are still using drugs or alcohol. The former user may have to build a new support group of friends who are already clean and sober. Drug and alcohol support groups and mentors can fill this role. In some cases, family therapy may be necessary to help the recovering addict’s family members understand the treatment and teach them different ways to be supportive and helpful during the process.

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