If you’ve been wondering, “Can I quit using drugs and alcohol by myself?” the answer really depends on your particular situation.
Data suggests that about half of people who recover do so with some sort of help, while about half do so on their own. Many of the people who recover on their own do so with the help of community support, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, instead of going to formal rehab.
So what path is right for you? Let’s explore what you need to know before making this important decision.
Detox vs. Rehabilitation: What You Need to Know Before Quitting Drugs Without Rehab
Although the majority of the recovery process can be managed by the addict, it is highly recommended that you seek out professional help for the first stage of recovery: detox.
The acute withdrawal symptoms that occur when you first stop using a substance can be severe – not only unpleasant to experience, but also life-threatening in some cases, especially when coming off alcohol or benzos.
At a detox center or other medical facility, you will have physicians checking your vital signs on a regular basis to ensure your safety and to intervene if your symptoms become dangerous. They may also be able to prescribe medication to help ease the severity of the symptoms, making withdrawal less painful.
For heroin and opioid addiction, it’s not the physical withdrawal symptoms that can kill you, but rather the state of mind it puts you in. Withdrawal is known to cause suicidal behavior is some cases, so medical supervision during detox helps keep patients from hurting themselves in a low moment.
If you do decide to detox from opiate addiction at home, make sure there’s someone else there to watch over you and that all dangerous items have been removed from the house.
Overcoming Addiction Without Rehab
Rehabilitation – which is staying off drugs and alcohol after the initial acute withdrawal period is over – can definitely be done on your own, as many people have proven through their own experiences.
In fact, whether you choose to recover on your own or in a rehab program, it is always you that is rehabilitating yourself. No one can make you get sober; you have to want it on a deep level.
You have to be willing to do what it takes to make the necessary changes in your life. You have to embrace the trial by fire. Without that, no treatment program or AA process will be able to help you.
What everyone does usually need is some support along the way. Recovery is hard enough; doing it with the help of others eases the burden.
However and wherever you choose to recover, you may need some or all of these things:
- Support from people like you who’ve been through this and understand what you’re going through, and can provide advice on what worked for them
- Tips and training on how to prevent relapse
- Counseling or therapy
- Medication to ease post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS)
- Help with establishing a new life – work, living arrangements, etc.
- Ongoing encouragement during this months-long (or even years-long) process
Why People Relapse
The question to ask yourself is, “What support do I need to prevent relapse?” The most common reasons why people relapse are:
- Motivation wasn’t strong enough
- Not enough changes to environment or habits
- Strong PAWS symptoms (physical addiction still at play)
- Other contributing factors such as trauma, mental illness, etc. haven’t been properly addressed
You may find success in recovering on your own if:
- You have an intense motivation to quit using substances and recreate your life.
- You’re typically good at exercising willpower (i.e., “mind over matter” works for you).
- You’re willing to make changes throughout your life to support your commitment to sobriety, including saying goodbye to old relationships and other situations that you used to enjoy but which may tempt you into relapse.
- You don’t have a mental illness or psychological issue that is contributing to your drug use.
When It’s a Good Idea to Get Professional Addiction Treatment Services
In addition to professional detox, opting for a formal treatment program may be a good idea for you if you have one of these situations:
If you have an underlying mental health issue, then having a psychiatrist’s help is very important because both the substance use disorder and mental health disorder need to be treated at the same time. The methods and/or medications that will be used to treat these two conditions will vary, depending on the specific circumstances.
History of Relapse
If you’ve tried to quit on your before and keep relapsing, then there’s no shame in getting professional help. Everyone is different, and just because someone else recovered without going to rehab doesn’t mean the same strategy will work for you.
If you’re having difficulty really committing to sobriety, maybe because you fear that life without your substance of choice wouldn’t be any better, or some other reason, then seek out an option with one-on-one therapy to help you get to the bottom of your motivation issue.
There Are Many Ways to Beat Drug Addiction
Each person caught up in addiction has a unique situation. The type of drug being used, how severe the physical addiction is, the underlying psychological and lifestyle factors that support the addiction – all these things and more play into how a person experiences addiction and what they need to do to quit.
Some people are able to quit on their own without enrolling in a rehab program. Others benefit greatly from the support that a formal program provides, either at a treatment center or in a community based program like AA.
It Comes Down to You
Regardless of whom you turn to for help, the No. 1 factor that will determine your success is your internal level of commitment. You have to truly want to live a sober life, deep down, in order to have the motivation necessary to weather the changes ahead.
Once you’ve made that commitment and your resolve is firm, seeking out support in the community, from AA and NA programs, from rehab programs or other medical professionals should give you tools to beat addiction, as well as resources to make the changes that will save your life.
If you’re confident you can do this on your own with free support in the community, go for it. If you’re pretty sure that you’ll back out when things get tough (maybe because this has happened before), don’t feel bad about this.
Acknowledge the reality of your situation and opt for a rehab program where there will be people to help you find the motivation to tough it out. If you’re afraid that beating addiction alone isn’t possible for you, then don’t hesitate to seek out support.