Getting sober is extremely difficult if you are someone who is struggling with substance abuse. Getting sober involves more than “just don’t drink or use”. If it were that easy, then you wouldn’t need residential treatment, intensive outpatient programs, or recovery meetings. If it were that easy, you wouldn’t be reading this article.
People drink alcohol and use drugs because they like the way it makes them feel. If you’re an addict, it may have started off as something you only did on the weekends. You still woke up the next morning and went to work, picked up the kids from school, etc. However, at some point, it started to have negative repercussions such as job loss, divorce, and the like.
If you are struggling with addiction, chances are you won’t start thinking about getting sober until things get really bad. When the pain of remaining in active addiction is worse than the discomfort of doing something different, you’ll start considering getting sober.
So if you’re getting sober, what do you have to do? Where do you start? There are many opinions and suggestions. Not all of them are effective. It is the intent of this article to give you suggestions and advice that are proven to be most effective! So if that’s something you want to know more about – keep reading.
Getting Sober – Detox/Residential treatment
When you stop drinking alcohol or doing drugs, you’re going to experience withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the substance you’re using, the amount you’re using, and how often you’re using will determine the severity of these symptoms. Trying to detox from drugs and alcohol on your own can be extremely dangerous. If you are coming off benzodiazepines or alcohol, you could actually die.
The first step to getting sober should be checking into a detox facility. You may think that going to a detox facility will be too expensive. However, there are many state-funded detox facilities all over the country. Sometimes they are connected to a hospital.
A medical detox usually lasts 7 to 10 days. At a facility, you may receive medication to ease your withdrawal symptoms. The physical cravings to use your drug of choice will be overwhelming in the first week.
If you’re attempting to detox at your home, there is a high chance you won’t make it through the process. It’s too easy to walk to the liquor store or down the street to your drug dealer. In a detox facility, you are shielded from this temptation.
Many people don’t go on to residential treatment after detox. The chances that they’ll relapse within the first 72 hours of leaving are extremely high.
If you’re serious about getting sober, you should go to a residential treatment facility. Many programs are 30 to 90 days, but there are some that last much longer than that. Once again there are state-funded facilities available to those who otherwise couldn’t afford to go inpatient.
Getting Sober: Mind, Body, and Spirit
Technically you are sober when you are no longer under the influence of drugs and alcohol. However, there is another type of sobriety; mental and emotional sobriety. You’re going to start feeling your emotions now that you’re sober. This can be very intense and lead to irrational thinking and actions.
After a week-long detox, you can’t trust yourself to make decisions that are good for your well-being. By being in residential treatment, you’ll have a safe space to experience these emotions, talk about them, and learn ways to cope with them.
We’ve all heard about someone’s IQ (intelligence quotient). What about EQ (emotional quotient)? It’s been said that when you get sober, emotionally you’re the age you were when you started abusing substances. That would mean a newly sober 35-year-old man that’s been using for 20 years has the EQ of a 15-year-old.
Substance abuse disorder affects everyone’s brain differently. You may be unable to remember a conversation you had a day prior, get lost while driving, or have trouble concentrating. Getting a sober mind takes time. It requires effort and the guidance of healthcare professionals.
As you can see, the endeavor of getting sober can take longer than you may have thought.
Getting Sober Means Getting Busy
When you first get sober, you are sitting in the wreckage caused by your addiction. This can be frightening and overwhelming. You may be desperate for anything that will keep you from returning to active addiction. If you experience this desperation, time is of the essence. Many addicts quickly forget “how bad it was”.
You must use this desperation to propel you into constructive action. If you are at a residential treatment facility, you will usually be exposed to programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or SMART recovery.
Many times members of such fellowships will bring meetings into a residential treatment center. This is your chance to take action! Get acquainted with these people. Get their phone numbers. Talk to them about sponsorship/mentorship. Find out where their meetings are at so you can go to them when you get out of residential treatment.
The Only Thing You Have to Change is Everything
There are many facets to getting sober. You must be willing to grab onto a new way of life and let go of your old one. When you’re getting sober you need help from professionals and sober peers in order to set yourself up for success.
You will need a complete overhaul that may include:
- Deleting phone numbers of drinking or using buddies
- Getting into sober living
- Setting up therapist appointments
- Registering for an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- Making a schedule of meetings you commit to attending
- Distancing yourself from any family members that may not support your sobriety
As you can see getting sober is not as simple or as easy as it sounds.
It’s hard work that requires reaching out to others for help. Luckily there are so many people – professional and non-professional – that are waiting for you when you decide to get sober!
IOP at ASIC Recovery
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