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Getting Sober Without Rehab: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly



Common triggers of addiction to look out for

How far are you willing to go to free yourself of the clutches of addiction? Would you rather get sober on your own, than seek the help of trained addiction recovery experts? If your answer is yes, that’s good. If your answer is no, that’s great. What is vital at this point is that you have a will to quit your addiction. As a proverb goes, “where there is a will, there’s a way.” There are many ways to various addiction recovery processes; some are medically researched and evidence-based, while some others are based on speculations.

The choice of a recovery process is the thin line that determines if you will have a successful treatment, and be sober for life, or if you would be battling with relapses over and over again. In this post, we will be assuming that you have decided to get sober without rehab and discuss the prospects therein.

Can I get sober without rehab?

In the medical and scientific community, there is no data to support the notion that an individual can get sober without rehab. A publication by National Institute of Health (NIH) revealed that studies point to the participation in formal treatment and extended time in treatment, as consistent factors in long-term abstinence and successful recovery.1

There is no valid, evidence-based research that shows that one can get sober without rehab. However, the publication also indicated that participating in a 12-step program such as Narcotics Anonymous can help in maintaining short term abstinence. It is important to note that 12-step plans are best applied during and after rehab; they can’t be regarded as an independent treatment process.

So, while it seems you might be able to get sober without rehab, the effect only promises to be short-lived. This puts you at risk of subjecting yourself to torturous conditions, which includes harmful withdrawal symptoms, and alternating relapses as you continue to try.

Also, in the absence of professional counsel, you are likely to quit cold-turkey. Trying to stop the use of some substances such as opioids abruptly without medical guidance have been shown to expose users to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, sometimes leading to death.2

Getting sober without rehab is a risk that you shouldn’t consider, and the effects are pointers that you should enroll for a sober living program. However, if you have to try it on your own, seek the guidance of a recovery specialist for helpful tips and support.

What are the effects of getting sober without rehab?

People have always tried to get sober without proper medical drug detox and rehabilitation, and to an extent, their attempts have helped in forming the base study for what could happen when one tries it. Some individuals decide that they will quit using a substance, and they genuinely succeed at it. In a situation like this, two possibilities could have propelled their successful recovery:

  1. They are probably new users who haven’t developed a physical dependence on the substance. That is, the person is not yet addicted. Some of the factors that determine if one is an addict include irrational craving, continuous substance use despite adverse effects on their physical or mental health, lack of coordination, etc.
  2. They relapsed for a short while after long abstinence. Persons in this category would be able to quit successfully without rehab if their body’s tolerance to the substance has not gotten to critical levels.

If you are someone that has been using substances for a long time, you have probably developed a high tolerance. Hence, the success stories of people in the categories listed above should not be a source of inspiration for you to get sober without rehab. If you fall into any of the categories above, well, journeying into sobriety without rehab, might be good for you and yield impressive outcomes. Although, we will always advise that you seek professional help while at it so you do not fall into a relapse.

Other than that, the effects of embarking on such a journey can be unpleasant. The bad and the ugly consequences of this venture might include:

  • Harmful withdrawal symptoms and relapse – In most cases, these two go hand in hand. Some people who regressed didn’t do so because they wanted to, most of them had the desire to stay off substance use. Unfortunately, withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and intense craving can be so unbearable that, in a bid to feel good, they decide to indulge again. From that first step into relapse, it is a smooth sail to addiction all over again.

Also, quitting without proper supervision puts you at risk of severe withdrawal symptoms such as heart attacks, seizures, tremors, chronic depression, etc.

  • Risk of overdose – You should understand that addiction alters your body system so that you can tolerate a high amount of the substance in use. If you quit without proper guidance, the tolerance your body has built up so far would drop. Hence, when you relapse and take the dose you were used to, your body won’t be able to tolerate it. Consequently, you overdose on it.
  • Death – This is where things get ugly. Severe withdrawal symptoms or overdose can cause death due to substance abuse. More so, both can cause complications such as heart attack, dehydration, seizures, etc., which could all lead to death.

What’s the best way to achieve sobriety?

Getting sober without rehab isn’t the best way. However, the good thing is that it shows you have acknowledged your condition and wish to get help. With that in mind, the best support you can get is a medical drug detox center, followed by rehabilitation in a specialist drug rehab center.

With a series of medical tests carried out, a recovery specialist will draft a personalized recovery plan that doesn’t just aim to treat your addiction but also improve your overall well-being and perspective on life.

A rehabilitation center provides you with a clean, peaceful, and safe environment for a successful recovery. Moreover, if lack of time is why you intended to get sober on your own, an outpatient schedule can be drafted to suit your needs.


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