As with many of the most interesting questions, the answer is “it depends”.
Substance use disorder (SUD) is a complicated condition that affects people in different ways. It is almost certainly possible to quit some drugs by one’s self in the right circumstances. However, not everyone has the training or experience to understand what drugs you need a lot of help for and what circumstances make it OK to attempt quitting by yourself.
Some popular substances like caffeine and nicotine, for example, are generally not considered risky to quit by one’s self. Others, like alcohol and benzodiazepines, may likely require medical intervention to get off of safely.
The reason boils down to the relative dangers associated with withdrawing from different drugs. All addictive substances broadly act on the brain in the same way to cause compulsive drug use. However, their specific withdrawal effects can be very different.
For instance, withdrawals from alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates all need to be under close supervision as death is a common side effect of abrupt withdrawal. Withdrawals from drugs like cannabis and prescription stimulants tend to be less severe and may not require much active intervention.
For substances associated with fatal or extremely uncomfortable withdrawals, drug replacement therapy, dosage tapering, or a combination of the two strategies is the go-to in drug treatment facilities in Boston. These interventions need to be done precisely and are usually not realistic in a home setting.
However, even if you’re trying to quit less dangerous substances, there are several reasons to find help. Some benefits of entering a substance treatment program include the following:
1.) Better long-term outcomes
Entering a real rehab program will dramatically improve your chances of recovery compared to a so-called “self-detox”. Entering a program can prevent or mitigate some of the worst withdrawal symptoms and will, in most cases, provide recovering individuals with the knowledge and training needed to successfully get off their drug of choice.
You may even want to consider getting help for less dangerous drugs like nicotine or cannabis. Even withdrawals from these less dangerous drugs can be extremely difficult without help. In fact, these substances might be even harder to avoid because they’re legal and widely available. By seeking professional help, you get access to therapy and advice that can greatly improve the odds that you’ll stay sober.
2.) You save time and money
Many people with SUD avoid getting help precisely because they believe entering rehab will be expensive. However, they might fail to realize that drugs in themselves are an expensive habit that also negatively impacts their personal and professional relationships.
By seeking treatment early you can avoid the almost inevitable relapses and get better sooner rather than later. You end up spending less on drugs and suffer fewer consequences from them, which usually means you end up saving money. This is not even taking into account how much more expensive treatment will be if you wait for an SUD to become worse.
3.) You can get help for other co-existing conditions
Getting help for an SUD will tend to open opportunities for recovering individuals to get treated for previously undiagnosed conditions. Notably, SUDs are often accompanied by other psychiatric conditions, a situation known as dual diagnosis. People with SUD will also tend to have physical ailments related to their habitual substance misuse, which can often be life-threatening.
By finding professional help, you can get a head start for other things that may become problematic later on. This is usually not possible when you attempt to quit drugs by yourself.
4.) You will learn how to stay sober
Detox and withdrawal management usually help with many of the worst physiological issues associated with SUD. Many people do try to “self-detox” in an attempt to quit. Unfortunately, without proper therapy, these gains are likely to be temporary.
SUDs have both psychological and physiological components. To treat them effectively, both aspects have to be addressed. Detox will only go so far if the patient does not receive the therapy they need to help them cope with continued cravings and substance use triggers.
By joining a certified rehab program that offers psychotherapy, recovering individuals can expect a much better chance at making a full recovery than they could just by weaning themselves off drugs.
5.) You’ll know yourself better
Unlike self-treatment which is perpetually in danger of ending on a whim, professional treatment can effectively help you with relapse prevention, giving you more distance to contextualize your condition. While you’re getting treatment, you will start to rediscover who you were before you became sick. Whether you’re trying to quit gambling or opioids, the very act of seeking professional help will often lead you to a path of self-discovery.
If you think that you have an SUD, please consult with a qualified psychiatric health professional. Reach our team at Boston Drug Treatment Centers to find the holistic drug and alcohol rehab programs in Greater Boston. Good luck, and be well!