Despite years of research and debate, medical professionals still contest whether or not organic recovery is possible when it comes to addiction. Long gone are the days of considering prescription-strength drugs as the only form of medicinal treatment; more and more people are coming around to the idea that there are other ways to manage pain and ailments.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports around 38 percent of American adults used some sort of complementary or alternative medicine in 2007. So, are addicts capable of managing withdrawal and recovering from a substance dependency without professional or medical intervention?
Can a Person Achieve Sobriety on His or Her Own?
It has certainly been done, but it isn’t without risk. You should seek the advice of a professional in assessing your needs and deciding whether or not withdrawing from substances at home is a safe option for you. While certain substance abuse problems may not warrant the need for professional detox, in most cases, detox in a professional treatment center is recommended. Milder drugs like marijuana and nicotine can become problematic and are definitely addictive, but they don’t necessarily mandate the need for in-house detox or medical treatment. That being said, most substance addictions are even dangerous to attempt to detox from on your own at home. Some of the riskier drugs include:
- Prescription opioid pain relievers
- Benzodiazepines and other pharmaceuticals
The most dangerous substances to try and self-detox from are likely opiates and alcohol. By attempting to go through withdrawal at home, you’re putting yourself at an increased risk for overdose if you do relapse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states 120 deaths occur in America every day due to drug overdose. The risk of overdose increases for individuals who detox alone at home. Thus, if you’re thinking that natural detox is the way you want to go, seek it through a reputable facility; do not attempt to self-detox at home.
One of the most common addictions around the world is alcoholism. Approximately 17 million American adults had an alcohol use disorder in 2012, per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. While drinking seems like a mainstream practice and somewhat safer since alcohol is a legal substance, detoxing from alcohol on your own can be deadly if you are an alcoholic.
Bloomberg Business reports deaths from heroin overdoses reaching 6,000 in 2012, and opioid painkiller overdose deaths totaling 16,000 that same year. When someone detoxes from opioids and then relapses back to use, their body often can’t tolerate the same dose they were accustomed to in the past and overdose occurs. When you detox on your own at home, relapse is more likely. In a professional detox center, you’ll be overseen by supervising staff, including consulting physicians, and relapse is less likely.
Mental illness and substance abuse often go hand in hand. In fact, 53 percent of drug abusers have one or more serious mental health disorders, and 37 percent of alcoholics do too, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports. If mental illness and substance abuse co-occur, care is best managed in a professional treatment setting.
Allowing a potential mental health disorder to go undiagnosed is another risk taken when foregoing facility-based treatment. Without the supervision and screening that only professionals can render, you could be left to struggle through withdrawal with an illness like bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or schizophrenia lurking alongside your substance abuse issues. Even if you are able to complete the withdrawal process and enter sobriety, the likelihood that you’ll remain clean and sober while coping with an untreated mental health disorder for the long term is very slim. Therapeutic care must follow detox. Among patients who relapsed in one study reported on by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, those who sought follow-up care within a month of finishing detox took 40 percent longer to return to their substance abuse habits.
Why Professional Help Can Make a Difference
The primary reasons for attending a professional addiction treatment facility are safety and efficacy. You are more likely to fully detox and remain clean and sober if you have supportive staff members who are highly experienced in addiction recovery to assist you along the way. In addition, detox is always safer in a supervised environment with medical personnel on hand who can intervene if needed.
During a typical detox, those who are addicted or deep in the trenches of dependency face the possibility of withdrawal symptoms, including depression, which does carry the potential for ideation of and attempts at suicide. Many think they’ll be forced to accept pharmaceutical drugs to remedy these issues if they attend a treatment facility, but that just isn’t the case. Today, you can opt for holistic care programs that allow you to progress through treatment with natural alternatives for pain relief.
What Treatment Will Be Like
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, only 2.5 million of the 23.1 million Americans who needed treatment for their substance abuse and addiction issues in 2012 got help. Are you ready to join the ranks of that minority and rid your life of addiction? After you first enter treatment, you’ll undergo a thorough screening during the intake interview process that covers everything from your drug and alcohol abuse history to family issues and mental health problems.
In a holistic treatment setting, the focus is on the whole person. Detox for most patients often begins with medication to ease the effects of withdrawal, but those opting out of these regimens do have other options. Often, herbal medicines, homeopathic remedies, and dietary changes can make a big difference when it comes to making pain and discomfort manageable. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food reported a 50-60 percent reduction in alcohol consumption and withdrawal in lab rats that were given a regulated dose of kudzu root — a natural, plant-based herbal remedy.
Valerian root, dimenhydrinate, ginger root, and St. John’s wort are often used as natural detox medicines, too. Proper hydration can help ensure that aches and pains are limited, and alternative therapies like acupuncture or massage can ease the body into and out of detox, too. The typical symptoms of substance withdrawal include:
- Nausea, with or without vomiting
- Excessive anxiety
- Profuse sweating
- Mood swings
- Confused state
- Being easily rattled
- Abdominal cramping
Diet and exercise are two rather large components of any holistic substance abuse program. A nutritious diet will supply you with the energy and balance needed to persevere through detox and recovery. Exercise has been proven to be beneficial to the human body by releasing endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that excite your pleasure centers. Regular cardiovascular exercise can also aid in diminishing drug cravings. One study by Vanderbilt University showed that five 30-minute sessions on a treadmill reduced cravings in marijuana addicts, and after 10 sessions, cravings were reduced by more than 50 percent.
Therapeutic options include traditional 12-Step programs, which offer the substance addict a direct path to take in their commitment to sobriety. Depending on your own personal experiences, the focus of other therapies may vary. Those who discover their substance abuse issues have stemmed from traumatic events in their past may benefit from therapies that aid them in re-establishing behavior patterns and the way they react to stressors, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). According to HealthCentral, approximately 50 percent of CBT patients have successful results. Some patients may benefit from Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and a variety of other treatments.
Regardless of how you got here, we can help you get to a better place. Call us at La Paloma today, and our admissions coordinators can talk with you about the options we can provide to help you turn your life around.