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. You may be nervous about taking the first step towards sobriety, but choosing to seek substance abuse treatment is the best decision you can make for your health and happiness.
Recognizing the problem
Before you can get clean and sober from drugs or alcohol, you need to recognize the need for treatment. It may be difficult to admit that you have a problem, but substance abuse doesn’t have to control your life anymore.
If your drug or alcohol abuse is interfering with work, school, home life, or relationships, you may need help recovering from an alcohol or drug addiction. Substance abuse treatment programs can provide you with assessment, support, structure, therapy and counseling, and medication to aid in your recovery. Drug and alcohol recovery programs can help to address the underlying problems that contribute to drug abuse in the first place and work towards replacing your maladaptive alcohol and drug use with positive habits and behaviors.
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 major 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. In the case of certain drugs, such as opioids, the cycle of cessation and relapse can contribute to an accidental overdose if the user returns to using the same dose that they previously used before quitting.
Understanding Addiction 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.
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.