Making the decision to get sober is a choice that will change the course of your life forever. While this decision is one that only you can make and it will require dedication, consistency, and hard work on your end, it takes a village to successfully get sober and stay that way.
A lot of people mistakenly think they can get sober on their own and that they don’t need rehab or any type of treatment services to get sober. This way of thinking can lead a person down a path of chronic relapse and pain.
While it is possible to get sober without rehab, a person who completes a comprehensive and well-rounded treatment regimen is much more likely to lead a satisfying, positive, and lasting sober lifestyle in recovery.
If you’ve made the decision to get sober, you may think you’ve got this under control, but here’s why you may want to reconsider going to rehab.
How Addiction Works
In order to understand the need for professional help in addiction recovery, it helps to understand how addiction works. Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain.1 Like other chronic diseases, addiction requires ongoing treatment for lasting recovery. There’s no single cure and the recovery process is different for everyone.
Since a full recovery from addiction has less to do with willpower and everything to do with the proper care and treatment, even an intense determination to achieve sobriety often isn’t enough to sustain lasting recovery from addiction. Relapse rates are often high (40 to 60 percent)2 and although a relapse does not mean that addiction treatment has failed, it is an indication that additional support and/or treatment is needed.
Comprehensive, individualized treatment, recovery support resources, and a strong sober peer network can greatly reduce the likelihood of relapse. Instead of just addressing the common symptoms of addiction (physical dependence, depression, relational stress, financial problems, etc.) a full continuum of care can help you tackle the underlying causes of your substance abuse, and as a result, begin changing negative behaviors, attitudes, and mindsets to establish a healthy life of lasting sobriety.
Quitting Cold Turkey: Does it Work?
Abruptly stopping all drug and/or alcohol use or quitting “cold turkey” is a common method that many people use to get sober. Although it may seem like a simple and straightforward way to commit to a life of sobriety, it can actually be quite risky and dangerous. The cold turkey method is rarely successful for the following reasons:
- Severe withdrawal symptoms: In many cases, quitting cold turkey can lead to extremely severe or dangerous withdrawal symptoms like seizures and heart problems.
- Death: A person may even die from severe drug or alcohol withdrawal due to complications like dehydration, hallucinations, seizures, heart attack, or stroke.3
- High risk of relapse: If you choose to detox on your own at home, you are putting yourself at a severe disadvantage because you won’t have the proper support. Withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and emotionally difficult. Without professional assistance, you are much more likely to relapse simply to find relief from your discomfort and pain.
- High risk of overdose: When you quit cold turkey, your body loses all the tolerance you’ve built up over time, so if you relapse and return to using your normal dose, you are much more likely to overdose.
For some people, quitting cold turkey might work. However, if you are addicted to alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opiates, or you’ve abused large amounts of drugs for a long period of time, medically-assisted detox is always recommended for safe detox and withdrawal from addictive substances.4
Medical Detox is the Safest Option
Medical detox may sound scary and intimidating, but in reality, it is the safest, most comfortable, and most effective way to quit drugs and/or alcohol. Instead of detoxing on your own, medically-assisted drug and alcohol detox provides a safe, comfortable, and clinical environment where you can rest and heal. Treatment specialists, nurses, and doctors will monitor your progress daily and provide individual and group therapy to help you cope with the emotional side effects of withdrawal.
In addition, many detox centers offer enhanced or “luxury” amenities, private rooms, access to a personal cell phone and computer, and catered meals, among other comforts that can help you feel more at home.
Unlike some people may assume, medical detox doesn’t have to take place in a cold hospital. It can be completed in a warm, welcoming environment where you feel safe and cared for. What better way to start your journey to sobriety?
The Need for Rehab
Some people may assume that medical detox is the end of their addiction treatment journey and that nothing more is necessary to achieve lasting recovery. A few common reasons for not attending rehab include:
- Lack of financial resources or health insurance coverage
- Fear of what other people might think
- Previous experiences in rehab that were negative
- An inability or willingness to open up emotionally
- Time restraints/scheduling conflicts
- General anxiety about the rehab experience
- Lack of knowledge regarding treatment services
While the reasons above can easily dissuade someone from enrolling in rehab, research shows that a long-term rehab program provides the best opportunity for lasting recovery.5 While medical detox addresses the physical aspects of addiction, it does not treat the underlying causes of addictive behaviors. That’s what rehab is for.
Rehab is often the next natural step in the addiction treatment process after detox. There are many different types of rehab programs including residential programs, outpatient programs, Intensive Outpatient Programs, 30-day programs, and 90-day programs, among many others. Although rehab is often a necessary part of the recovery process, the type of program that is best for you will vary depending on your individual needs and circumstances.
Drug rehab provides effective methods like individual counseling, group counseling, educational lectures, structured recovery programming, and behavioral therapies to help people overcome their addictions. Clinical treatment with evidence-based therapies during rehab also addresses the deeply-seated causes of addiction, such as trauma, anxiety, social problems, abuse, and others.
Some examples of common types of therapies used in addiction rehab include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Family therapy
- Contingency management
- 12-Step therapy
- Creative arts therapy
- Music therapy
- Animal-assisted therapy
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy
Completing a rehab program does more than just help you get sober. It helps you establish a brand new life in recovery, learn how to cope with difficult circumstances, high-risk situations and triggers, and allow for opportunities to develop healthy, meaningful relationships that will contribute to and support a lifestyle of recovery.
Sobriety is More Than Just Abstinence
It is also crucial to understand that sobriety is more than just abstaining from drugs and alcohol. Although the term “recovery” means different things to different people, a full recovery from addiction positively changes the way a person thinks, behaves, and sees the world. Someone who is a dry drunk (a person who abstains from drinking alcohol but still acts like an alcoholic) is unlikely to reap the benefits of a transformative recovery from addiction that incorporates mind, body, and soul.
The addiction treatment process continues long after rehab ends with recovery support services that provide structure, safety, and one-on-one support as you make the transition from addiction to sobriety.
If you’re not already convinced that recovery support is key to long-lasting sobriety, research continually shows the lasting benefits of these services. Studies consistently show that social services, recovery coaches, and access to mutual aid societies provided by sober living homes help people sustain lasting recovery.
In fact, one study found that after a period of 24 months at an Oxford House, residents had significantly lower rates of substance abuse, significantly higher monthly income, and significantly lower incarceration rates.6
Although not all sober living homes provide the same services to residents, many provide the following recovery support programs and resources (including Eudaimonia Recovery Homes):
- Sober living houses
- Aftercare programs
- Peer-led accountability programs
- Local recovery support groups
- Family therapy for addiction recovery
- Employment assistance, educational assistance, and volunteer assistance
Is it Possible to Get Sober Without Rehab?
While it is possible to get sober without rehab, it is not as likely, and the benefits of professional and ongoing addiction treatment far outweigh the benefits of going solo.
So now that you’ve made the decision to get sober, how will you choose to do it? Call Eudaimonia Recovery Homes today to learn more about our addiction recovery services and our network of addiction treatment options through our sister companies, Nova Recovery Center and Briarwood Detox Center. We’re ready to help you experience full and lasting recovery from addiction.