Can a Drug Addict Fully Recover Without Going to Rehab?

Many people living with addiction are convinced that they can beat it on their own. They believe that with enough willpower, they can become sober and stay that way through the power of self-control alone. Sadly, however, this is very rarely the case. Addiction is a powerful disease, and one that doesn’t have a known cure. For an addict, getting and remaining sober is an ongoing battle that requires continued focus, commitment, and support. With both psychological and physiological symptoms and effects, addiction impacts how the brain works, its chemical functions, and its ability to regulate important, “feel good” chemicals like dopamine, seratonin, and other neurotransmitters. If you’re living with addiction and want to try going “cold turkey” at home, you should know that efforts like these aren’t generally successful.

More importantly, they can also be incredibly dangerous. Rehab is designed to make recovery safe, comfortable, and ultimately successful. Even people who have been sober for decades recognize that they are not fully recovered. They take care to avoid toxic relationships, toxic environments, social isolation, and other triggers and stressors that might lead to relapse. They also remain part of ongoing support groups, and many even use various forms of relapse prevention services to help them stay the course. Recovering alcoholics don’t test their willpower or progress by having casual drinks or by spending large amounts of time in bars. Instead, they guard their sobriety and health carefully, and do all that they can to preserve it. Without rehab, many addicts are never able to gain their freedom. Moreover, without the right post-treatment resources and support, most aren’t able to maintain it.

Why Addiction Recovery is Always Easier With Professional Rehab

Recovery always begins with detox. Detox is safest in a controlled and monitored environment. When you use drugs or alcohol to alter your moods or your emotions, your brain gradually undergoes a series of changes. This is because mood-altering substances affect when and how your body releases dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Although dopamine certainly makes you feel good, this isn’t the sole role of this chemical. It also plays a key part in executive function, motor control, motivation, and many other aspects of your body’s normal functioning. With addiction, the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters becomes reliant upon and largely dictated by the use of substances. When you take these substances away by detoxing, the body experiences system-wide distress. Also known as withdrawal symptoms, this distress can include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Temperature changes and excessive sweating or chills
  • Body-wide tremors or convulsions
  • Heart palpitations or chest pain
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

and more. In controlled or medically assisted detox, medication can be used to minimize these symptoms or even prevent them entirely. These interventions make it easier for people to complete the withdrawal process. They also mitigate the risk of lasting physical damage. Once the physical symptoms of withdrawal have passed, rehab professionals can leverage other interventions to limit post-acute withdrawal symptoms or the psychological effects of abstinence. Overall, these efforts make it far easier and much more comfortable for patients to abstain. Rehab goes beyond making detoxing safer and easier. It additionally offers the skills and tools that people will need for achieving lasting success in recovery.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used to rebuild self-esteem, identify and address feelings of unresolved shame, guilt, and grief, and teach new and more positive ways of thinking. Patients are taught new coping skills that they can leverage when confronted by stress, social angst, and many other real-world challenges. Many rehab centers even offer treatments for co-occurring disorders or comorbidities. These are underlying mental health issues that many addicts have been self-treating with drugs or alcohol to alleviate their pain. They include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic anxiety, borderline personality disorder, and bipolar disorder among many others. Understanding the difference between ongoing recovery and “fully recovered” is important. If you have substance use disorder, recovery will always be a lifelong process.

When people fail to acknowledge this, they make the dangerous mistake of becoming lax in certain areas of their long-term recovery plans. For instance, if you have comorbidities or co-occurring disorders, continuing treatment for the underlying mental health disorder that initially caused you to abuse drugs or alcohol is critical. Stopping medications for problems like schizophrenia, PTSD, or chronic depression might seem like a good idea in the moment, but it will invariably lead to the same emotional pain and imbalance that fostered your addiction. For recovering addicts, relapse can happen at any time. Surrounding yourself with knowledgeable professionals from the very start of your recovery journey is the best thing that you can do to prevent it. If you want to reclaim your life from drugs or alcohol, we can help. Call 123-456-7890 today to find a rehab program that will put you on the path to lasting sobriety and good health.