Getting sober on your own is certainly possible, but should you try to do it on your own? We take a closer look at how to get sober without rehab, the pros and cons of this approach, and what you can do to increase your odds of success.
Is getting sober on your own a good idea?
“If there’s a will, there’s a way” as the saying goes. However, when talking about an all-encompassing condition like drug addiction, willpower alone likely isn’t going to be enough.
When you’ve done enough drugs to develop a substance abuse disorder, your body becomes accustomed to those chemicals. So much so, in fact, that your brain or heart, or liver, may undergo a physiological change (in addition to a neurochemical one). This is known as physical dependence. It’s also the reason why people experience withdrawal side effects once they stop doing drugs, which can be unpleasant at best—deadly at worst.
Then, there’s the psychological aspect of addiction where a person has become reliant on the presence of drugs to function. Whereas the physical effects of prolonged drugs can get better with time, the mindset of an addicted person is not as simple a fix. Doing so successfully requires unlearning old patterns and training the brain to operate in a drug-free way of thinking. If you’ve ever tried to break an old habit, you’re likely aware of how challenging it can be to change your behavior or mindset on your own.
Drug rehabs specialize in treating both of these key aspects of addiction. They offer medical resources, trained staff, and a controlled drug-free environment that make it easier to focus on recovery. To successfully get sober on your own, you’ll want to emulate as many elements of drug rehab as possible.
How to get sober at home
Now that you know what the goal is in addiction recovery, you have a better idea of what you’ll need to tackle the physical and psychological parts of addiction recovery.
- Prepare for detox
The first stage of addiction recovery is getting the drugs out of your system. As mentioned earlier, detox can potentially be a dangerous period. In rehabs, the detox period (which can take a few days to a little over a week), is an inpatient treatment with round-the-clock medical supervision.
One option is to just go to drug rehab for detox and then complete the rest of your sobriety journey on your own. However, if you want to avoid going to a formal institution altogether and pursue a completely natural detox, make sure you’re aware of the severe symptoms which could be a medical emergency. Enlist a friend or loved one to watch over or check on you during this time.
Remember: Never quit cold turkey as this will put the body into shock and increases the chances of having intense and life-threatening withdrawal side effects.
- Establish your support network
Without the rules of a formal institution, holding yourself accountable (i.e. not giving in to cravings) can be really difficult. There’s nothing stopping you from contacting people who used to give you drugs or did them with you or to stop them from trying to contact you.
Having a support network of people who will check in and follow up with you will give you a greater incentive to stay the course. They can also double as emotional cheerleaders that you can confide in for both those high and low moments of recovery.
- Create a routine (and stick to it)
The harried addiction lifestyle isn’t one known for stability. That’s why creating a predictable day-to-day routine is important in breaking that cycle. It instills the discipline and good habits needed to live a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. Here are some ideas of things to include in your new routine:
- Writing down five things you’re grateful for, first-thing when you wake up
- Having a video call with a friend or family member at a set time
- Planning each of your meals for the next day
- Going for a walk after lunch
- Meditating for 10 minutes every night before bed
- Attending a weekly peer-support group
- Pay attention to mental health
Healing the mind is just as important as healing the body. We strongly recommend seeking a mental health professional at least once. Drug abuse often coincides with mental illness and is sometimes a result of it (mental illness may decrease a person’s ability to find healthier coping mechanisms). A professional can also help identify any other underlying causes of drug abuse, which can make it easier to avoid relapsing in the future.
If you’re not keen on the idea of enrolling in drug rehab, look for one that offers outpatient drug addiction treatment. This offers the best of both worlds and gives you greater freedom than an inpatient treatment center, but still provides support, structure, and expert guidance.