When learning that someone is ready to sober up from drugs or alcohol, following cheers of delight the assumption is that this simply involves discontinuing substance use. A general lack of understanding about the science of addiction is at the center of this very common naiveté. In fact, addiction and chemical dependence dictate thought and behavior patterns that occur in lockstep with the altered brain’s reward system, making detox a complex process that should not be taken lightly.
It isn’t enough to want to just sober up from drugs or alcohol. Getting sober is a short-term solution to an ingrained and complex problem that, if not addressed and treated, will never support a sustained recovery. Wouldn’t it be great if all a person had to do was put down that bottle or those pills and walk away. Unfortunately, there is much more to getting sober than that simple action, not to mention the health risks that going cold turkey could entail.
Even so, after having completed a safe, supportive medical detox, the work has only begun. Not only will those who want to sober up from drugs need to learn new behavior patterns, coping skills, and relapse prevention actions, but they will also have to learn how to actually live day-to-day in sobriety. Achieving a sustained sobriety, one that will succeed long-term, is the ultimate goal.
Sober Up From Drugs or Alcohol Safely
Sometimes a person hits bottom and then on impulse decides, “That’s it, I am gonna get sober. I am never drinking again!” While laudable that the individual has reached a crossroads and is ready to obtain sobriety, it is never wise to attempt going through detox and withdrawal on your own.
Detox can be very unpredictable. Depending on such things as the type of substance use disorder, general health and age, withdrawal symptoms can occur in a wide range of intensities. Certain substances, such as benzodiazepines, methamphetamine, OxyContin, and alcohol, can have especially serious complications during detox. Close monitoring of withdrawal symptoms and vital signs is imperative during an alcohol detox, for example, as there is a risk of the delirium tremens (DTs). Detoxing from Xanax and other benzos should be carefully supervised through a tapering schedule over a period of at least two weeks.
To achieve sobriety safely it is critical to approach it in a logical manner. This involves locating a rehabilitation program that includes medical detox services. Having the detox in house makes transitioning from detox to treatment smooth and orderly.
What to Expect in a Supervised Detox
Having a basic understanding of what to expect in detox can help prepare an individual for this first step in addiction recovery. Although detox is admittedly not a pleasant experience, with expert support to help guide you through the process you will be well cared for.
Because addiction impacts the dopamine levels in the brain, the body will become unstable with the drug being withheld. The severity of the addiction, including the history of substance abuse, whether there is a poly-drug situation, what type of substance and usual consumption levels, will influence the intensity of the detox and withdrawal.
During detox, careful attention is paid to emerging withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox team members will be administering medications as needed to help manage the symptoms and minimize discomfort. Psychological support is also available for individuals who may begin to struggle with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or who may want to give up on detox altogether.
Comprehensive Treatment for Addiction Recovery
Once the medical detox is safely completed, the next phase of addiction recovery involves the active treatment phase. Without learning how to manage stress, resolve conflicts, respond to triggers, and change lifestyle habits, it is simply impossible to sustain recovery.
Rehab services are available in either outpatient or residential settings. Outpatient treatment offers three levels of intensity based on the severity of the substance use disorders and other factors. Outpatient programs provide more flexibility, allowing individuals to continue working, therefore these rehabs usually cost less than the residential programs.
However, the outpatient program does not provide enough structure for more severe addictions, which can result in a relapse. Some individuals do better in a residential program where there is 24-hour support and monitoring. Whichever type of rehab format is selected, the fundamental treatment elements will be similar. These include:
- Psychotherapy. Individual talk therapy sessions allow the individual to delve into past emotional pain, traumas, mental health conditions, or current stressors, and help to process and heal these using evidence-based therapies. Clients will learn how to reshape dysfunctional thought patterns so that new productive behavior patterns replace drug-seeking behaviors.
- Group sessions. Group counseling sessions are excellent opportunities to share your experiences with others who have similar challenges. This helps to foment peer support and camaraderie, which is helpful while going through addiction treatment as it makes participants feel they are not alone.
- Family group. Many rehabs include family therapy, understanding how central the family unit is to everyday functioning. These sessions help family members begin to understand each other better, to begin to heal from the pain caused by the addiction, and to learn more productive ways of relating going forward.
- Addiction recovery techniques. Rehab programs will prepare the individual for a successful recovery by giving them the tools they will need to avert any threats to sobriety. Relapse prevention planning and strategizing is a high priority in rehab.
- 12-step programs. A.A.’s 12-step program is often incorporated into many rehab programs. Meetings can be helpful to those in early recovery, offering a safe place to share and learn from each other. Following rehab the recovery meetings become an essential component of aftercare.
Supportive Actions that Reinforce Sobriety
Entering recovery is like peeling an onion. Each layer reveals the next one until the core of the onion is discovered, representing the ultimate goal—a sustained and healthy recovery. The first layer of the recovery onion was sobering up and going through detox. The next several layers represent the various therapeutic elements that together compose a comprehensive addiction recovery program. Dig deeper still into the onion and you are now approaching post-rehab aftercare.
Aftercare efforts are those actions taken to shore up the newfound sobriety that was achieved through detox and weeks of treatment. People coming out of rehab are extremely vulnerable to relapse. In essence, they will need to learn how to like being sober for sobriety to stick. This is not always an easy accomplishment. Being sober is difficult for many who have relied on a substance to numb their emotional pain or soften the stress level in life. That is where aftercare comes in.
Incorporating a solid aftercare plan following rehab helps to reinforce all that was learned in treatment and putting it into action in real life. These efforts may be met with some challenges, however, which is why the following steps should be included in the aftercare planning:
- Sober living housing. Not everyone has a nice, supportive home environment to return to. Sometimes, recovery can be threatened by returning to a dysfunctional home environment that does not respect recovery efforts. A sober living home provides the safe, substance-free living space that offers time to adjust to living a sober lifestyle.
- Twelve-step meetings. Why go it alone when you can find instant support and friendship through local recovery meetings. Find a group that is a good fit for you, and incorporate the meetings into your weekly routine- the more meetings the better.
- Therapy. It is reassuring to know that you have a therapist who will guide you through any rough patches that occur in early recovery. In addition to the individual sessions, participating in support groups is also a great source of social support.
Embracing Sobriety by Changing Your Lifestyle
Going one layer deeper toward that desired final result involves making significant changes to your lifestyle in recovery. It isn’t easy to change old habits and routines. This can be a difficult transition period, as you remove certain people from your life who do not support your recovery efforts. In addition to making some new sober friends and cultivating a new social group, health and wellness should also be addressed in these lifestyle tweaks:
- Get good sleep. Addiction can lead to irregular sleep schedules and sleep disruptions. In recovery, every effort should be made to stabilize the circadian cycle by establishing a regular sleep routine each night.
- Eat a nutritious diet. Restoring physical wellness in recovery is of paramount importance. According to a study [Leclercq, et.al.], there is a relationship between alcoholism and gastrointestinal problems. The study found that along with the altered gut-microbiota was a high prevalence of depression and anxiety. Healing the gut through a healthy diet will also improve mood in recovery.
- Get regular exercise. Fresh air and sunshine are added benefits of embracing an active lifestyle in recovery. Regular physical activity not only helps you improve fitness, but has profound positive effects on mood as well. “We saw a 26% decrease in odds for becoming depressed for each major increase in objectively measured physical activity,” says study author Karmel Choi, a clinical and research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
It is always excellent news with a loved one who has had it with their substance addiction and is ready to sober up and start anew. Just take the proper steps to achieve sobriety safely and the sky’s the limit.
Solutions 4 Recovery Can Assist With Detox and Treatment
Solutions 4 Recovery is an upscale heroin addiction treatment program located in beautiful Dana Point, California, a coastal community in Southern CA. Solutions 4 Recovery features a compassionate and highly experienced clinical team that will create a custom treatment plan designed specifically for the individual’s treatment needs. Solutions 4 Recovery offers outpatient treatment as well. For more information about how to sober up from drugs, please call Solutions 4 Recovery today at (888) 417-1874.