How to Stop Using DrugsAnna Ciulla
Addiction has been a facet of the human condition since the earliest days recorded in history. It is a condition that mankind has dealt with for centuries and today, an argument can be made that it’s worse than ever. This is due in part to the wide accessibility of addictive substances, having more downtime as a species, and a massive lack of education on the matter at hand.
In modern times, particularly in America, it’s not surprising to hear that someone is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction. While the stigmatized addict was once found mainly in lower-income minority communities, today that is not the case. For the first time in America’s history, we’re seeing this demographic expand into areas many mistakenly thought ‘untouchable.’
The sad reality is that no one is safe. From the elderly trying to treat pain, the healthy and privileged looking for aids to help them focus or stave off anxiety, to those born into environments that beget drug use, the types of addicts are many, yet the addiction is no different. If you are someone that’s currently addicted to drugs, or you’re reading this because of a loved one, then we understand.
The road to sobriety is difficult but entirely possible. With pointed research, an inpatient drug treatment strategy, and a strong support system, any addiction is beatable. In this article, we are going to teach you how to stop using drugs and what you can do to stay sober for life.
First and foremost, if you are trying to quit a drug addiction, it’s important to identify exactly why you’re doing so. Without the proper motivation, the road ahead will be difficult to face and the chances of relapse will increase. There’s a massive difference between someone that’s quitting drugs because those around them are telling them to, versus someone who realizes they have a problem and makes a decision thereafter. Which brings us to our next point:
Making the Decision
The decision to quit using can be made at any point and comes full circle once the action to abstain from drugs follows. In which, it is important to identify a few key factors that will serve as motivation in the future.
- What has happened to your life since you first began using drugs? What has gone wrong?
- Will other people be impacted positively if you abstain from drug use?
- What are the good things that surround your drug use?
- What are the bad things that surround your drug use?
- Do you feel that you have control over your habit and the road ahead will be easy?
More often than not, the list of bad things surrounding an addict’s substance abuse will go on and on. This is what you should use as a reference when wading through the journey ahead. It’s not ‘the high felt great’ that is going to help you persevere, it’s the ‘I’m going to fix my relationships, take hold of my life, and mend my health’ that will drive you forward.
Choosing A Strategy
It’s entirely possible that you’re reading this because you’re looking for a DIY (do it yourself) method of recovery. The truth is this: the fact that you’ve accepted your problem and made a decision means you’re already on the path. However, quitting by yourself or going ‘cold turkey,’ depending on your situation, can pose serious health risks and induce a higher propensity for relapse.
Of course, this is often the difference between someone that uses a drug recreationally and wants to abstain—knowing it’s a bad habit and an unhealthy lifestyle choice—and someone that’s fully addicted, abusing a substance daily.
An inpatient drug rehab program is a great choice for patients that have tried to quit before and failed, have severe drug addictions, and for those who simply desire a support group as they rise against this titan. If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of rehab, see below.
Types of Treatment Programs
Rehab typically comes in two different forms; inpatient and outpatient drug treatment programs. There’s no way to describe each process overtly, as the treatment of today is tailored towards the individual. An addiction specialist will evaluate you, recommend a type of treatment, and then it’s up to you to follow through.
This can be anything from an inpatient program that lasts for over a month, in which you live at a facility and work with specialists to conquer your addiction daily, to checking into a clinic for the drug detox, then being released thereafter, only to continue treatment from the comfort of their home. You could imagine that a severe addict might have a difficult time being home, in an environment full of triggers, and how an inpatient program could complement their situation best.
You could also imagine that someone with a mild addiction could benefit from detoxing in a medically-supervised, safe environment, only to return home and continue their treatment afterward. At the end of the day, the choice is yours, but it’s important to listen.
You might have read that last section and thought to yourself, I’m not going to rehab. It’s totally understandable to be wary, nervous, or even afraid of checking into a facility. Yet, no one is going to force you to do anything. Experts and addiction specialists (not to mention hotlines and doctors) are at your disposal, waiting to help.
Utilize your resources to better prepare yourself for the road ahead. Remember, beating an addiction successfully is often directly related to the amount of preparation made beforehand. By simply reaching out to a specialist or a doctor, they will be able to provide advice that can help you—even if you’re doing it all on your own! This could be anything from prescribing medication that will aid the process, to recommending certain home remedies known to work for your specific ailment.
Lastly—although this might be difficult if you’ve kept your issue hidden—be open with your loved ones, friend group, and coworkers about the struggles you’re facing.
Abstaining from drugs after a long period of drug use is no easy task and those that love you should know what you’re about to experience. There’s a reason why rehabs work: they’re a support group, a family in themselves, and they work together to push patients along to sobriety.
- Reach out to experts, hotlines, and doctors, as a simple conversation could be rich with recommendations and advice on how to beat your current addiction
- Communicate with your loved ones, peers, and anyone closely knit into your life, as they will only be able to support you if they know exactly what you are going to face
If you decide to quit using drugs and you have formed a drug addiction or dependency, you are going to experience withdrawals. Perhaps it is experiencing these very symptoms that led you to understand the severity of your condition, thus prompting your decision to abstain. No matter the case—in rehab programs treatment centers or doctor’s offices—the biggest thing to initially prepare for is the withdrawal stage.
If you are going to tackle your addiction on your own, then this stage of the process should be your initial concern.
Withdrawal symptoms will depend on the type of drug being used. Someone suffering from cocaine addiction is going to exhibit different symptoms than someone addicted to heroin, respectively. That’s why it’s paramount that you research your specific vice and what sort of withdrawals accompany your addiction when abstaining.
For instance, heroin withdrawal has a later onset and can wreak havoc on a stomach, while cocaine withdrawal is predominantly emotional, affecting the psyche and mental health more than the body. Knowing what you are going to go through is mutually exclusive to being prepared for it, as you can take the necessary steps to ensure you don’t relapse.
Know The Risks
Some withdrawals can cause side effects that pose serious health risks, at times killing the patient suffering them. This only further supports our point before about communication, as certain drug addictions are safer to kick on your own than others. Any doctor or addiction specialist will be able to provide you with this information.
With that being said, the most dangerous types of withdrawal are brought about by severe benzodiazepine and alcohol addictions. In some cases, the withdrawal can cause respiratory failure or delirium tremens, which has proven to be fatal in some cases.
If you are going to go through drug detox on your own, without medical supervision, take a thorough and thoughtful look at your type and severity of the addiction, as complications can ensue. If you are considering this option—we commend you for being strong-willed and proactive—just please do your research before quitting ‘cold turkey’ and dealing with withdrawal on your own. As said before, some types of addictions will need a professional medical detox.
Again, withdrawal symptoms are going to depend on the type of addiction you’re dealing with and your anatomy (type of drug, length of use, state of health, age, etc.). Still, there are certain symptoms and tips that seem to be ubiquitous across the board of drug and addiction types. In which case:
- Know that you will probably experience some form of anxiety, emotional volatility, and restlessness. This is completely normal, as an addiction is as psychological as it is physical. Prepare for this by researching methods of releasing stress naturally (this can be exercise, meditation, breathing exercises, etc.).
- Stay hydrated. As the body tries to regulate normal functioning and regain balance, it goes a bit haywire. It’s used to operating with the ‘help’ of a given substance and without it, it begins to reel under the pressure of having to essentially rebuild. Often, the body will overheat, causing the person in withdrawal to sweat, leak from their eyes or nose, and feel ‘hot.’ This will dehydrate you, in which case it’s important to stay hydrated in so to flush out your system.
- Give yourself time. Look, withdrawal isn’t easy. Even in medically-assisted environments, the process is still taxing. You have to give yourself the proper time to deal with this stage of recovery. You can’t expect to excel at work or even think properly during the height of your symptoms, nor can you expect them to disappear overnight. Research your specific withdrawal symptoms timeline and know that often, after 3-5 days, most withdrawal symptoms will begin to wane dramatically.
Once you’ve used your resources, done your research, and beaten withdrawals, it is all-too-easy to consider the journey over. One thing first: when you pass the hurdle, you should be unbelievably proud of yourself. You’ve beaten the odds and gone through detox, be it on your own or within a health care setting. No matter how you got there to be proud you did. We’re proud of you.
Yet, as you’ll find in any treatment program or strategy, aftercare is arguably the most important part of rehabilitation. Why? Beating withdrawals is usually a week-long endeavor. Addiction aftercare is for life. Which means it’s paramount that you start setting a strategy for yourself early on to ensure your success once the time comes and create a relapse prevention program so you stay on track.
Aftercare is anything from joining support groups, enrolling in a therapy program, changing your lifestyle to support sobriety, to making new friends and reshaping your social circles in aims to avoid triggers or negative influences. But the real common thread of aftercare is something a bit deeper than all of that; it’s uncovering the root reason that motivated you to use in the first place.
This can be a certain event, a co-occurring disorder, to a host of reasons that led you to use a given substance in order to cope.
A Final Thought
There is no one way to stop using drugs. Beating an addiction is a complicated endeavor with many variables, and no two people are going to react the same exact way to treatment. Certain drug treatment programs work for some, but may not work for others.
With that being said, you’re here because you’re currently in the process of making the decision—or you already made it—and for that we commend you. Believe it or not, you’re already heading towards a brighter future. You’re on the road to recovery. If you are the loved one that is trying to learn how to deal with an addict in your life, just know we are here to guide you as well.
If you have any questions whatsoever about our long term residential treatment, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Remember, quitting drugs is the most important decision of your life. But that doesn’t mean safety should be neglected.
We believe in you.