The decision to admit yourself to a detoxification program to address a drug or alcohol addiction is life-changing. Detox centers treat acute withdrawal symptoms, allowing you to enjoy a life free from alcohol and drugs without the fear of experiencing extreme physical discomfort. Most people who are chemically dependent are not able to start the process of addiction recovery without an inpatient detox center protocol and to attempt to do so is dangerous to your health in many instances.
However, completion of an inpatient detox center program is merely the beginning to the journey of recovery. While the removal of your extreme physical compulsion to drink or use drugs is essential to starting a sober life, post-acute withdrawal symptoms post a challenge. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms, or PAWS, come primarily in the form of emotional challenges, such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, depending on your drug of choice, you may continue to experience mild physical symptoms, such as shakiness, nausea, and insomnia.
The inherent danger with PAWS and early recovery, in general, is that you are at significant risk for a relapse. Many individuals think that they are fully engaged in addiction recovery after a three- or five-day stay in a detox center find, to their dismay, that they are right back where they started after a short time. This sad reality is avoidable, though, provided you are aware of the risk and put a plan into place for continuing care after detox.
Residential Treatment Programs
Overwhelmingly, the best odds for success after a detox program entail transitioning directly into a residential alcohol and drug addiction treatment center. The reason for this is that the brain does not heal from the damage of chemical dependency in a short time. Neurochemically, the brain is in disarray for a considerable period after cessation of use, and inpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers provide a safe environment for healing.
Perhaps more importantly, an inpatient treatment center will teach you the skills that are necessary to stay sober for the rest of your life, if you follow directions. Treatment centers are advanced learning environments for those who wish to recover from addiction. You will have the benefit of interacting with numerous trained addiction professionals, such as counselors, clinicians, doctors, therapists and more. These professionals will help you to develop a blueprint for living sober that is not easy to achieve on your own.
Treatment facility professionals will explain the science of addiction, and this will help you to understand why you have been engaging in the horrific struggle of active addiction. You will discuss relapse prevention topics so that you know what your triggers are and how to avoid them. Individual and group therapy will give you an opportunity to share your feelings about addiction in a setting that is conducive to honesty because it is judgment-free.
One of the most crucial aspects of an alcohol and drug addiction treatment center is that you are there with others who, like you, are just beginning their journey on the road to recovery. This commonality is invaluable because you realize that you are not alone, and you can share things with people whom you have just met that you would not feel comfortable sharing with a friend or family member. Recovering from addiction alone is virtually impossible, and at a treatment center, you begin to realize the importance of developing relationships with other sober people.
Intensive Outpatient Programs
Now, you may not be able to admit yourself to a residential treatment center for various reasons, and there are other alternatives available that can be effective as well. Intensive outpatient programs, or IOP’s, meet at least three days a week and usually for two or three hours. Many people who go to an inpatient program will continue care at an IOP as a step-down program. These programs are held at night for those who are employed or during the day if that is more convenient. Most of the same services that are available in an inpatient modality of treatment can be found in an IOP, though they may have to refer you to other providers for specific issues.
One of the advantages to an IOP is that you can meet other individuals who are in recovery in your local area and subsequently rely on them for support. Members of your IOP may be willing to give you their phone numbers or get together for coffee before the group. Developing relationships with other individuals who support one another is paramount to your success.
Sober Living Houses
Another option to consider if a residential treatment program is not possible is a sober living house. Sober houses are typically a continuing care option for recovering people who are discharging from residential care, but sometimes they will take people from detox. Transitioning to a sober house from a detoxification unit is preferable to going back home because the environment will increase your chance of success in recovery.
Sober houses are supportive environments where you live with others who are newly sober. You are expected to find work if not employed and usually must regularly attend 12-step meetings as well. A sober living environment optimizes the ability to develop close relationships with others in recovery and if you can live in one, it is an option you should strongly consider. Typically, people stay in sober living for three to six months, but many stay longer because they recognize the benefit and see no reason to move on.
While there are multiple paths to recovery, none has been proven more effective than the 12-step approach, primarily through the programs of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Some folks can go straight from detox into rigorous attendance at 12-step meetings as a continuing care modality. This option is available free of charge, and you will find scores of meetings near you populated by hundreds of recovering individuals who would like nothing more than to assist you on your journey through recovery.
The 12-step approach involves sharing your experiences with others who have gone through similar situations. You will be amazed at the willingness of others to show support, and you have the opportunity to develop friendships with people who can relate to you on a level unlike the people in your life that do not suffer from addiction.
In summation, the most effective thing to do after detox is to seek admission to a residential alcohol and drug addiction treatment center. If this is not possible, a willingness on your part to invest your time and effort toward other recovery-related options is the next best thing.