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Drug Detox: Why Isn't It Enough to Handle Addiction?
People who are dependent on drugs and alcohol are constantly making and breaking promises to their loved ones, their employers, their friends and themselves: They’re going to quit. Many even go to detox. They think that if they can just get some of the stuff out of their system or sober up, they’ll be able to take it from there. But, frankly, they rarely make it. Although drug detox is a vital first step to overcoming alcohol or drug addiction, it doesn’t address the issues that prevent relapse so the person can stay drug or alcohol free.
So what does it really take? Here’s a brief rundown.
- First, they need to detox. The most comfortable withdrawal will be at a good medical detox facility. It can usually be done within a week or so. A good drug detox center has counselors on staff that can determine whether the person needs rehab. Most people will.
- In rehab, get down to the bottom of the personal and life problems the person couldn’t deal with without drugs or alcohol. These could be related to family, work or school, or even personal internal conflicts that may seem trivial or unfounded to others. But, to the addict, they’re important.
- Help them sort out these issues. They need workable solutions. It’s not enough to know that the problems exist, and it’s not enough for the person to decide they’re “just going to handle things differently”. If they could have handled them differently, they would already have done that. If they go back out into the real world with no real solutions, it won’t be long before they find themselves in the same position they were in before they started drinking or taking drugs. Next thing you know, they’ll be back in drug detox starting all over again.
- Restore their physical health. Alcohol and drugs take a horrible toll on the body. The body degenerates, loses muscle tone, strength and stamina. Nothing works right – every system has been forced to function against unnatural odds. Try not getting enough sleep or good food and, often, no exercise for a year or two – are you going to feel up to facing the challenges of life? No. Your body will drain every mental and emotional resource you have. Add to that the wear and tear of drugs and alcohol, and you just won’t have the energy to say no.
- Work out the details of the after alcohol or drug detox and rehab environment. Going home to drinkers, drug users and dealers is not going to help. Have you ever tried to go on a weight loss diet when you’re surrounded with cake, cookies, soda, pasta, bread, potatoes and people who eat and drink them constantly? That temptation is nothing compared to a former addict’s experience. The former addict needs an environment of clean, sober, productive and supportive people.
You can see why short-term treatment is often ineffective – it usually took years to get an addict where they are, and the issues behind their substance abuse can be deep seated. It doesn’t change overnight.
Some addicts don’t get off drugs or alcohol because of the pain and discomfort of withdrawal. That’s where a medically supervised drug detox comes in. A good drug detox program can get you through the worst of it safely and in relative comfort, and help you determine whether you also need drug rehab. If it’s recommended, do it. Ending alcohol or drug addiction isn’t easy, but if done right, you’ll stay clean and sober and have a completely new life.
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