The first step in recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction is often detoxing, which is when you clear your system of any substances. Based on what substance you used and your level of dependency, you may feel that detoxing isn’t necessary, and going to counseling will be sufficient.
You may be right about this. Not every addiction requires detox for a successful treatment, and if you’re taking action early enough, you may not have developed a dependency that requires a detox.
The problem, however, is that addicts often avoid detox because they simply don’t want to do it. They choose counseling because it makes them feel like they’re getting serious about overcoming their addiction, but in reality, it’s a half-measure. If you think that you don’t need detox, it’s important to consider why you feel that way and if counseling alone could be effective for you.
Why Is Detox a Popular Treatment Option?
The reason detox is often the first stage of treatment is because it gets any substances out of your system, allowing you to focus on building new habits and leading a clean lifestyle. This is much harder to do if you’re still using drugs or alcohol. Trying to taper down your usage almost never works and makes treatment next to impossible.
To get you clean, the best option is a detox. While people sometimes attempt this on their own, it’s better to do so with professional help, because you’ll be going through withdrawal symptoms. Common withdrawal symptoms include the following:
• A runny nose and a lethargic feeling, as if you had the flu
• Difficulty sleeping
• Lack of appetite
• Mood swings
Symptoms vary quite a bit by the substances you used and your level of dependency. With some substances, withdrawals are primarily psychological and don’t affect you physically. With others, withdrawals could be life threatening and trying to detox on your own would be dangerous.
There’s a strong temptation when you’re detoxing to start using again to make your withdrawal symptoms go away. While you will likely still have the occasional craving after you finish detoxing, they won’t be nearly as bad, meaning detox is the first hurdle you need to get past during your recovery. You have the best chance for success with professional treatment, as you’re less likely to relapse.
How Can You Figure Out if Counseling Is Enough for You?
If you think that you don’t need a detox and can do fine with counseling, the first thing to think about is why you feel that way. Try to be objective. Consider whether you think your addiction can be treated with only counseling, or if you’re simply trying to avoid going through a detox. If it’s the latter, keep in mind that the detox process may not take a long time. Some patients get through it in a matter of days or even less than one full day.
Before you decide to forgo a detox, you should ask yourself the following questions:
• What substance(s) do you use, and how long have you been using them?
• Have you tried to get clean before, and what methods did you use?
The substances you use make a big difference in the difficulty of getting clean. Marijuana, nicotine and even cocaine can lead to psychological dependency, but users typically don’t become physically dependent. You may be able to go through recovery without a detox for these substances, although you also need to consider your frequency of use.
Substances that cause physical dependency make it much harder to get clean without detoxing first, because you essentially rely on them. Example of these substances include alcohol, heroin and other opioids. A detox is the best way to get clean when any of those substances are involved.
Quitting any of those substances can lead to painful withdrawals, which are often what keep people using. Certain medications can alleviate withdrawals and lead to a more comfortable detox. It still won’t be easy, but it will be more manageable.
It’s also important to consider whether you’ve tried to get clean before. If you’ve made the occasional attempt on your own with no success, then counseling could work. On the other hand, if you’ve given counseling a go before and couldn’t stay clean, then it makes more sense to take a different approach and go through a detox first.
What Is the Best Way to Get Clean Through Counseling?
The most important part of getting clean when you’re only going to counseling is going often and never skipping a session. Consistency is key to making progress and not having any relapses. Now, if you do have a relapse, don’t let it derail all the progress you’ve made. Keep going to your sessions and be honest with your counselor about it. Too many people who have a relapse start skipping sessions because they feel embarrassed.
Your environment and the company you keep are always crucial when it comes to recovery, but this is especially true when counseling is your sole form of treatment. One of the biggest challenges for addicts trying to lead a clean lifestyle is resisting negative influences. If you’re still hanging out with people who use, you’re going to have a tough time staying clean, particularly if they encourage you to use with them and tell you that it’s no big deal.
Since your counselor has your best interests at heart, make sure you trust them and follow their advice. They have all kinds of experience helping people get and stay clean, and they can do the same for you, if you let them.
No matter the extent of your addiction, you can overcome it and lead a clean life. We’re here to help you do just that, and we have counselors available 24/7. Just give us a call at 877-978-3148