This article is aimed at a broad INTERNET audience and is not a substitute for personal advice from a medical doctor or addiction counsellor. Disrupting chronic alcohol or drug usage without professional detoxification and emotion-management is a strenuous, risky and potentially fatal undertaking.
If you are determined to attempt home detox or addiction recovery on your own, we strongly advise that you consult a doctor or a registered therapist for personal advice before starting the process.
The following article contains guidelines about recovery from substance use disorders – with and without attending a formal rehab treatment program.
Why would a person NOT go to a rehab centre?
Frequently cited reasons for not going to a rehab centre for treatment include:
- Cannot afford the cost of private care addiction treatment
- Current projects and time constraints inhibit going for treatment
- Fear of stigma, negative perceptions by family, employers, society
- Not necessary – Can reduce or stop usage whenever I choose to
- Rehab therapy does not help / will not work for me
There are reasons that of-course go beyond this scope, or why going into a rehab is not feasible for so many people.
Here’s the hard truth about addiction and actual rehabilitation:
If you’re absolutely dead set against stopping any addiction, then addiction recovery will most likely not work for you. To home detox or recover from a substance use issue, you will need to establish an internal drive, overcome all denial and work holistically confront many aspects of your life to fully recover.
To establish a drive to recover from any addiction you will need to understand that addictions are fuelled by your subconscious thoughts that are caught up in a wider ecosystem that includes your present relationships and life issues.
To get rid of the “monkey on your back”, you will need to progressively force your thoughts into a new positive direction using behaviour change practices such as mindfulness – If you don’t, then your subconscious mind will continually be working against you and your subconscious mind (as you will discover) is a powerful force to be reckoned with.
It’s slow to start but it gets better and easier as you practice over time.
Recognising the critical moment
The Rock Bottom Concept
The flawed concept that your life has to completely spin out of control and be faced with imminent death to turn the tables on addiction is a horribly distorted perspective on addiction recovery.
The critical turning point is not the same for everybody and doesn’t have to be a catastrophic event. You right now can simply say to yourself “it’s time to change” and you can.
So don’t wait to hit “rock bottom“. The sooner you start dealing with the problems that surround addiction the better.
Overcoming distrust and broken relationships
When you announce your decision to stop using, you may expect praise, but people close to you might react cynically or in ways, you would not expect from them. This is a very hard thing to contend with as relapses with home detox are almost a given. Remembering that your immediate relationships have also walked a road with you and could very well be a large part of the trust problem.
Slowing down and stopping any substance you will be cast into a state of emotional flux and you could be in the situation where their trust has been eroded or that complex family stigmas are in play that has been established around a substance behaviour, and not the real you.
Just remember a substance use issue is a complex inside and beyond your immediate family and social connections. The fortitude to carry on the path to dealing with your addiction comes from your internal determination. Invariably that determination has been eroded by substances over the years and this is where joining a support group or speaking to a therapist can be invaluable.
This is now a YOU decision, and while it may not seem like it in the beginning trust and restored social connections can only be reestablished or managed based on a solid grounding when you are dealing with a sober person and not when unregulated emotions are distorting the picture.
The secret is to avoid further alienation of a family member with a substance use disorder is to learn empathy and support of them. Your immediate family may even not be empathetic or supportive to you, and that is not in your control or your responsibility.
However, you can choose to be empathetic and supportive of them and their misunderstanding of you and you will be surprised at how quickly these things come naturally back to support you. Learn to show empathy and be understanding of their feelings. Acknowledge your past mistakes when sharing your earnest desire to turn a new leaf and commitment to your personal growth.
If your audience remains sceptical, accept that, over time, opinions will swing back in your favour as you hold a steady course toward recovery. There are several routes you can follow to regain control of your life. Of course, human beings differ and what works for one person may not work for another so the decision is to start somewhere and find what works for you.
Be Prepared for Relapses
Keep in mind that almost everyone that has recovered from an addiction relapsed at least a few times along the way. This has nothing to do with being in a rehab centre or not, it’s nothing personal and it’s not a failure.
Relapses are a learning experience, once we learn what went wrong at that time, we are given a guide as to how to avoid those problems in future.
Find what works for you and those around you and keep doing it even if you drift off the path few times, there is always a tomorrow where you can learn from yesterday and you can get back on track.
Keep your end goal in mind and keep on trucking as they say.
Your concerns may propel you to achieve sobriety on your own, and if that is what you plan to do, then you should get to grips with the entire deal upfront:
Can I really get clean or sober on my own?
What the stats and reports do not show, is how many people fail to do it on their own, or how many die as a result of not getting timeous help when an unexpected complication crops up.
People who successfully recover from addiction on their own are the well-sung success stories, while family-muted tragedies of self-help efforts that failed pass by quietly. These tragic stories emerge daily, but the full details are seldom publicised.
This is not to scare you, it is simply to say, safety first. Be in touch with professional guidance, it could save your life.
When you stop using a substance it usually causes dangerous side-effects that must be expertly managed. The risk of self-harm, due to co-existing disorders like anxiety and depression, needs attention too.
Ensuring your safety during the initial withdrawal phase is a pre-requisite.
Modern rehab centres and hospitals are designed to assist patients comprehensively in critical detox. They can assess your condition and design a flexible, personalised treatment program.
It includes considerations like:
- Types of substances used
- Usage pattern and history
- Current physical health issues
- Childhood and adolescent history
- Mental and physical health history
- Work, family and social problems
- Environmental/community influences
- Identification of co-occurring disorders
Family members and friends (while a great support structure) very seldom have the expertise to help with adverse detox reactions or psychological boundaries that need to be addressed. While willpower and medication may work for an initial substance detox, it won’t heal emotions and, as such.
Find a professional addiction counsellor that you can trust and start a regular conversation.
The risks of detoxing on your own
Your body and mind develops a dependency on the addictive substances you use and sudden reduction of a substance can cause mental and physical reactions (withdrawal symptoms). This can generate unexpected suicidal thoughts a range of physical responses to the withdraws of the substance.
Symptoms may include:
- Delirium Tremors
- Seizures and organ failures
Chemical substances that require detoxing
During a detox, medical staff monitor your condition 24/7 and make adjustments to ease the withdrawals, until the toxins have subsided and your condition has stabilised. The following types of substances often require detoxing:
Substance detox is not pleasant, but it is a necessity to get through the physical withdrawals to be able to make better and clearer decisions about your life moving forward. Keeping your mindset on your end goal will enable you to appreciate that you are in a learning phase and that there is hope.
Psychotherapy for substance use disorder
We created a video on choosing the right addiction treatment program, and the following list includes some of the services provided by residential treatment programs:
- Safe detoxification
- A low-risk environment
- Empathetic supportive groups
- Dedicated counselling support
- Healing of underlying disorders
- Preparation for social reintegration
- Personalised counselling for partners and families
- A personalised long-term relapse prevention plan
These are proven ingredients for beating addiction which are to some extent possible to mimic in self-help scenarios.
Psychotherapy Treatment Options
Inpatient treatment: Generally accepted as the best solution. Also called residential or intensive treatment, it requires staying in a rehab centre, usually for about one month, but this differs in line with a patient’s needs. It promises faster recovery than other methods, with proven long-term benefits.
Outpatient treatment: Some patients can attend the full daily in-house program at a centre and spend evenings at home. Or they can stay at home and just attend daily appointments for private therapy. It demands self-discipline and daily transport.
Video counselling: Progressive rehab centres offer online counselling sessions (also called internet therapy, e-therapy or cyber-counselling). It lacks physical intervention and it calls for internet access and self-discipline but provides benefits not normally available. Recent surveys revealed good results.
Alternative Treatments: Voluntary self-help groups are useful for motivational support, online courses, self-help books, life coaching can also be very useful and powerful tools in personal growth and recovery.
Positive support during recovery
While recovering at home, you’ll need someone for basic care-taking and to avoid loneliness. But imposing yourself on others can stir more tension into an already strained home atmosphere. It’s also not a good idea to isolate yourself – if you encounter a setback, you’ll need backup.
The social value of rehab centres is underestimated. Mingling with co-patients in a centre dispels isolation and builds social skills and self-confidence in a progressive environment. Combined with a good environment and family counselling, the centre can be an inspiring, homely community.
- Patients have daily motivational support of many like-minded people during recovery.
- They can converse with co-patients and counsellors without feeling like an intrusive burden.
- Counselling for spouses, partners and children can repair bonds and alleviate future tensions.
These benefits are usually lacking in self-help situations in your own home.
Do rehab programs help with long-term recovery?
As part of their programs, competent rehab centres always include dedicated strategies for long-term recovery. They heal the original causes of your SUD, prepare you for the stressors of daily life, and help you with additional relapse prevention plans for the future.
Get help today
Many people with substance use disorders have experienced multiple instances of trauma over their lifetime don’t punish yourself by attempting recovery on your own. We can help you with overcoming the addiction if you call us.