Addiction is a Dependency
Addiction is a chemical dependency and a chronic disease. When a person becomes addicted to a substance, the cycle can be difficult to break due to changes in brain chemistry and functioning. There are also psychological and emotional dependencies that are intertwined with the chemical elements of addiction.
These dependencies can make quitting addiction difficult, especially if it is done without preparation.
Addicts are usually the last ones to admit they have a problem. Often times an intervention takes place, which is led by family, and in more severe cases, it is led by a court system. From there, treatment and detox usually take place, followed by recovery. This may include sober living homes, twelve-step meetings, and extensive therapy. Recovery is continuous and will take place over an undetermined amount of time.
Based on statistics and research, the treatment methodology for fighting addiction is often a step by step model, starting with primary treatment. The methodology shows that the best way to fight addiction is to incrementally work towards sobriety with the help of physicians, medical staff, and mental health professionals.
Since addiction is a dependency, physicians and nurses monitor the detox and withdrawal phases of treatment. Based on their discretion, they may prescribe medication to the patient to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal. After quitting addiction, transitional living is strongly recommended.
Mentors, house staff, therapists, and peers help support the recovering individual on their new journey.
Rates of Relapse
Due to the chemical components of addiction, relapse is extremely common, even after primary treatment and detox. Primary treatment occurs for a short duration. Average programs last anywhere from “30 days to about six weeks.” Once stabilized, centers will discharge patients shortly after. It is then up to the patient to ease into a transitional living home to prepare for regular life.
While sober living is not mandatory in most cases, it is highly encouraged. Support systems and twelve-step programs are often cited as positive measure for recovery. But even with these transitional programs, relapse rates are still between forty to sixty percent for drug or alcohol addiction. People who choose not to live in a structured facility, like a sober living house or recovery center, have an even higher chance to relapse.
While treatment occurs over a short time period, the true challenge waits when they return to their regular, everyday lives. While chronic relapse rates are common, going through the recovery process with others leads to higher chances of success.
Dangers of Quitting Cold Turkey
Quitting addiction to a substance cold turkey (like alcohol, for example) is dangerous. With a chemical dependency, a person cannot cure themselves on their own. For example, people suffering from alcohol addiction may be suffering from intense headaches, hangovers. They may even experience seizures due to their alcohol consumption. Maybe the physical pain of drinking gets to be too much, and they decide to stop without any planning or support. This is dangerous to navigate alone.
Support systems are vital for increasing chances of lasting sobriety and health. A specific plan of action can also result in success. A treatment plan for sobriety is a trusted guide once treatment is successfully completed. By following through on the specifics, recovery will have a system and structure. And all recovering addicts need a routine as they begin recovery.
But without the support of mental health professionals, treatment, or sober living, the chances of achieving long-term sobriety is almost impossible.
For patients, who choose to not to go to a transitional living facility after treatment, and decide to handle recovery themselves, the chances of maintaining sobriety and “quitting cold turkey” at this stage are slim. While a recovering alcoholic may understand the cycle of addiction, and feel hopeful after completing detox, they will not be able to fight off addiction inclinations on their own without the help of a therapist, sponsor, or mentor.
Sober living and recovery residences have trained professionals who are familiar with addiction. If an individual chooses to forgo this option, the uphill battle becomes even steeper.
Stressors Trigger Relapse
When someone quits cold turkey, they will not be prepared for potential stressors that may trigger them into using again. Emotional risk factors are stressors that are known to affect recovering addicts in the same way, to increase their need for drugs or alcohol.
Substance abusers turn to drugs or alcohol to suppress or attempt to eradicate depression, anxiety, fear, or panic. Someone who quits cold turkey won’t know that certain people will trigger emotions in them that signal the old need for drugs or alcohol. It is a habit that is hard to break even with the assistance of trained professionals who are familiar with addiction.
Additionally, people who start using again after quitting addiction suddenly may increase their normal substance intake and accidentally harm themselves or even overdose. People who quit on their own won’t know that environments where people are drinking may be a trigger. It is best to avoid any situation that may cause a relapse.
Minimizing and preventing stress (if possible) may be one of the most beneficial steps for recovery. Transitional living, therapists, and sponsors all help recovering addicts find new ways to cope with stress, so addiction cravings don’t manifest into larger obstacles.
Support and Sober Living Houses for Lasting Sobriety
A large majority of addicts require assistance from mental health practitioners, medical doctors, rehabilitation centers, and recovery programs. And while wanting to quit is a great first step, the road to sobriety is best achieved with the support of others. Sober living facilities and recovery centers are easier to find than ever. This is in response to rising rates of drug and alcohol addiction in the country.
Top notch treatment centers target chemical dependencies and work tirelessly to get rid of them. Physicians and mental health counselors address chemical components and fix neurological instability that occurs from addiction. Additionally, sober living is necessary for the slow and steady transition back into the regular world, free from drug and alcohol abuse.
Being extra kind and patient to yourself post-treatment is just as important as completing treatment. Quitting addiction cold turkey is not the way to go. Reach out to others, take it slow, follow the steps, and take very good care of yourself.