According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, more than 20 million individuals in the United States met the criteria for a substance use disorder (SUD) in the last year. While many of these individuals may not be ready to begin treatment, many may feel motivated to start the recovery process. Some may even attempt to establish their sobriety at home. Is this achievable?
Due to the complex nature of addiction, attempting sobriety at home can lead to various dangerous physical and mental health consequences. Likewise, many people who have tried found themselves unsuccessful, especially when attempting to sustain long-term sobriety. Individuals need to be aware of the potential harm resulting from at-home detox and recovery. Professional treatment is advised, if not required, for individuals to recover from SUD effectively.
The Effects of Alcohol and Drug Use on the Brain
When an individual actively uses alcohol and other drugs, their brain changes its structure and associated functions. Simply put, substance use interferes with the normal communication between brain neurons and circuits. This leads to impaired functioning in critical brain areas that handle the following:
- Pleasure (the reward system)
As a result of chronic substance abuse, the brain adapts to the chemical effects of alcohol and other drugs. Over time, an individual’s tolerance will increase, causing them to need more substance to feel its desired effects. Unfortunately, when tolerance rises, so does withdrawal, and withdrawal effects are often uncomfortable. Eventually, an individual with SUD will use substances no longer to achieve a desired high but rather to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
The Necessity of Detoxification for Sobriety
Detox is considered a necessary part of the pre-treatment protocol in the typical addiction recovery journey. Detox is not treatment. However, it is an integral part of the treatment process.
When an individual is ready to begin recovery, they must clear their bodies of any remnants of alcohol and other drugs. In other words, they must detox from substance use. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), detoxification, also known as detox, is defined as “a set of interventions aimed at managing acute intoxication and withdrawal.”
In a treatment facility, detox services provide medically-assisted guidance and support as an individual ceases alcohol and drug use. The main goal of detox is to minimize the physical harm that may result from chronic withdrawal. Often, medications are administered to assist with this process. While inpatient and outpatient detox services are available, many facilities recommend inpatient detox as it is often safer and more effective. Detox can last anywhere from a few days up to a week.
It is essential to understand that the detox and withdrawal process can result in life-threatening complications, especially for those who have abused substances for long periods at high dosages. For this reason, detoxing without the guidance and support of professionals can be dangerous. Therefore, inpatient detox is always recommended for individuals attempting sobriety after moderate or severe substance abuse.
The Valuable Qualities of a Treatment Program
While participating in a detox program, individuals will be educated on the importance of participating in treatment after detox. Treatment helps individuals better understand the underlying causes of their SUD and work to overcome them. Likewise, individual psychotherapy sessions will help individuals explore the connections between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to create lasting behavior change. This is important for maintaining abstinence throughout recovery.
Treatment will also encourage participation in group therapy sessions. This allows clients to engage with other peers who are working to establish their sobriety. Group therapy provides necessary social support for participants. It also fosters peer accountability.
The Downsides of Attempting Sobriety at Home
If an individual were to attempt sobriety at home without the guidance of a treatment program, they would miss out on all the healing opportunities that addiction treatment provides. For example, they will not be able to connect and bond with peers in recovery. This is important because it helps individuals feel less alone in what they are thinking and experiencing. Additionally, it challenges physical isolation, a common contributor to relapse.
Another downside of attempting sobriety at home is that an individual will not have the professional and peer support needed to stay accountable for their sobriety. Accountability is essential. Likewise, it is something that is most effective when it is fostered by others that are also walking the path of sobriety.
Recovery is a lifelong journey. Without a structured foundation built during the early stages of sobriety, the chances of long-term success reduce significantly. Individuals require professional treatment to reverse the brain changes caused by substance abuse and properly cope with intrusive thoughts and cravings that are bound to surface from time to time.
Substance use disorder is incredibly prevalent in our nation. Many individuals may wonder whether or not they can successfully achieve sobriety at home. Simply put, addiction is a severe brain disorder that requires professional treatment to overcome. At 12 South Recovery, we understand how challenging it can be to make the first step and participate in treatment. However, we also know that professional treatment can get you closer to lasting success in sobriety. We offer outpatient treatment programs that can help you manage your addiction and any co-occurring mental illnesses. If you are on the fence about treatment, let us get you on the path to recovery. Call us today at 866-839-6876.