In the battle against addiction, detox is your first weapon. To break the hold of drugs or alcohol on your life, you need to purge them from your system, but what comes after you complete detox? Is detox all you need to reach sobriety, or is there more for you to do?
The Importance of Detox
Because of the way addictive substances affect your body, detox is a necessary part of recovery. Drugs and alcohol affect your brain chemistry by altering the balance of chemicals in your brain. The changes made to the brain’s chemistry as a result of drug or alcohol abuse lead to the cravings you experience.
Detox helps you rid the addictive substances from your body and allows your body’s chemistry to begin returning to the state it was in before you began using. The changes in your body’s chemistry create the withdrawal symptoms you endure as part of your detox. Those symptoms are your body’s way of telling you it is starting to recover.
Is Detox All You Need?
Detox is an important beginning for recovery, but it isn’t the complete process. Cravings can and most likely will return after you complete detox. Cravings can be triggered by situations and emotions, or even smells and sounds. Anything that your brain associates with drug or alcohol use can potentially be a trigger.
Because these triggers can manifest long after the initial detox, further treatment is important to prevent a relapse. Your body may no longer show the immediate symptoms of drug or alcohol addiction, but the physical, mental and emotional effects are still present. Those need to be dealt with in order for you to complete your recovery and lead a sober lifestyle.
What Do You Do After Detox?
After you have completed your detox, further therapy can help you continue on the path to sobriety. Remaining in treatment for longer periods of time can reduce your chance for relapse. You can learn how to manage cravings and build a support system to help you avoid your triggers.
No single treatment is effective for everyone, but some common approaches include maintenance medication to help suppress cravings, behavioral therapy to identify and eliminate negative behavior patterns, treatment for other mental health issues and participating in a support group.
For opioid or alcohol addiction, medications exist that can help restore your brain chemistry and manage cravings, helping you stave off relapse. If you struggle with another mental health issue, your doctor might prescribe a medication to treat both simultaneously.
Behavioral therapy is also important to relapse prevention by helping you learn to recognize and cope with emotional triggers. By learning to deal with your cravings and the emotional triggers that can initiate them, you are better equipped to deal with those temptations when they arise.
Support groups are another effective post-detox treatment option. Support groups can help reduce the stigma associated with drug or alcohol addiction and recovery, and they can provide you with encouragement if you feel the urge to relapse.
Detox is vital to your recovery, but it’s not the only stop on your journey. Seeking further treatment after detox will help you continue your recovery and maintain your sobriety.