Addiction Treatment: Is There a ‘Wrong’ Way to Quit?
We all know the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. From the risk of overdose to financial problems and emotional distress, the effects of addiction are varied and severe. And because of these risks, discontinuing the use of drugs and alcohol is essential to physical health, psychological well-being and overall quality of life.
However, what many people don’t know is that there is a “right” way to detox and recover, and “wrong”, even dangerous, ways to kick the habit.
Keep reading to find out more about addiction recovery, including information on which methods are the most successful.
The Dangers of Quitting “Cold Turkey”
A “cold turkey” detox is described as the abrupt discontinuation of all addictive substances. For many addicts, detoxing this way seems like the most easy and practical way to go, since it requires nothing but time and willpower.
However, this type of detox is usually the most difficult. For example, depending on the individual and their drug of choice, an abrupt detox is typically characterized with the onset of withdrawal symptoms, which often include chills, muscle pain, aching joints, gastrointestinal distress, anxiety, sleep disturbances, sneezing, runny nose and other flu-like symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe, and, in some cases, even life-threatening. For example, in addition to the usual withdrawal symptoms, a sudden detox is associated with complications like the following:
- High blood pressure or stroke
- Cardiac arrest
- Delirium, especially among alcoholics
- Severe anxiety, depression or mood swings, all of which increase the risks associated with self-harm, aggression, violent outbursts and even suicide
- Hallucinations, which also increase the risk of injury and self-harm
- Paranoia, especially among users of crack, cocaine and methamphetamine.
- Dehydration, which occurs as a result of vomiting and diarrhea, as well as a lack of appetite. Dehydration is extremely dangerous, and, if left untreated, can lead to shock, seizure, swelling of the brain, organ failure, coma and death.
In addition to the physical risks of a cold turkey detox, quitting drugs or alcohol this way may also be less effective in the long term. For example, according to info found at http://www.lapalomatreatment.com/drug-detox/dangers-of-cold-turkey/, without intensive psychological treatment, the risk of relapse with addictive substances is increased considerably. This means that, even after completing an at-home detox, addicts who don’t receive the proper professional care and support are extremely likely to resume using drugs or alcohol, or switch to other self-destructive activities.
Detoxing the “Right” Way
Given the dangers of cold turkey or at-home detoxification, care and supervision during this process is crucial to both immediate and long-term health. And the first step to a successful detox and sustained sobriety is finding a treatment center that offers supervised detoxification, as well as psychological therapy and aftercare programs. When it comes to addiction recovery, a supervised detoxification, also known as a medical detox, can provide advantages like the following:
- Medication to lessen the effects of withdrawal. Depending on the rehabilitation facility, these drugs can include sleeping medications, anti-anxiety drugs, anticonvulsants, medications to reduce or stabilize blood pressure, antidepressants and drugs like methadone or buprenorphine, which mimic the effects of opiates, without producing the euphoria associated with heroin, prescription painkillers and other opioid drugs.
- Constant care and supervision. During a medical detox, patients are monitored and supervised throughout the entire process. This can enhance both comfort and safety, and can prevent harmful effects and complications.
- Nutritional care. Since dehydration is a primary concern, a supervised detox will often include nutritional therapy. Medical professionals will also keep a close watch on fluid intake, and may administer IV fluids if necessary.
After Detox: The Benefits of Inpatient Care
In addition to providing a safe, supervised detox, most inpatient rehabilitation facilities offer in-depth psychological care. This type of comprehensive addiction treatment usually includes methods like the following:
- One-on-one counseling. One-on-one counseling is an integral part of rehabilitation. During these sessions, patients learn how to modify destructive thoughts and behaviors, as well as create coping skills in the interest of long-term sobriety and improved mental health. Also, intensive talk therapy can help professionals pinpoint and treat underlying mental illnesses like depression or PTSD, which often contribute to substance abuse and addiction.
- Group therapy. Like one-on-one counseling, group therapy sessions are conducive to recovery and long-term sobriety. What’s more, group therapy offers added benefits like the support of peers, and a safe place where patients can discuss their problems without fear of judgment. Group therapy also promotes the sharing of coping skills, which can significantly enhance the odds of a successful recovery.
- Family therapy. Since addiction can take a toll on familial and personal relationships, many facilities offer family counseling to recovering addicts.
- Aftercare. Many rehab facilities offer continued care to patients who have completed inpatient treatment. While aftercare methods can vary, they typically include continued counseling and group therapy, as well as support to recovering addicts as they reintegrate themselves with the outside world.
Although detoxing on one’s own is a novel approach in enhancing health and quality of life, the dangers of going “cold turkey” are significant, indeed. If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of addiction, seek immediate professional help, and get the ball rolling a better, brighter, healthier future.
About the Author
Sara Stringer is freelance writer who enjoys writing about natural health alternatives. In her spare time, she enjoys maintaining an active lifestyle through swimming and practicing yoga.