Updated on July 8th, 2020
Many addicted people are searching for an easy solution and a quick way to get sober. There are plenty of at-home and online programs that offer “How to Get Sober” guides, but are they really effective for long-term sobriety?
If getting sober without rehab is your intention, there’s nothing that says it’s impossible, but long-term treatment at a 90-day rehab program can provide many benefits that will help you get sober and stay that way.
Can You Get Sober Without Rehab?
Yes, it is possible to get sober without rehab, but successfully doing so and staying sober without some kind of professional and social support is very rare. Drug rehab programs provide essential support, therapy, education, and life tools to help people get sober and maintain their sobriety long-term.
To fully understand the need for drug rehab programs and centers, first, you have to understand how addiction works. Drug and alcohol addiction has several aspects that contribute to a person’s ability to get sober.1
- Physical dependence and tolerance: A person who is physically dependent on a drug needs it to feel normal or good. Someone who is physically dependent on a drug may have also developed a tolerance for it, meaning they need larger quantities or doses of the drug to feel the same effects they used to when they first started using.
- Psychological and physical addiction: When a person is psychologically addicted to a drug, he or she feels as though it is impossible to function without the drug and its effects on his or her body and mind. He or she relies on the feelings and effects the drug produces to deal with real-life problems.
Physical addiction becomes a serious problem when the body becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug and can no longer function properly without it. If you’re heavily addicted and try to get sober on your own without medical assistance, you will likely experience extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are the result of the body sending confused messages to the different organs and muscles.
With medical detox treatment and drug rehab programs, clients are supported with medication-assisted treatment to ease withdrawal symptoms and make the detox process more comfortable and safe. Drug rehab typically follows, and clients receive behavioral and cognitive therapy to help them readjust their mindset and develop healthier thought processes.
Drug rehab programs are extremely helpful for those with co-occurring disorders like anxiety, PTSD, or depression. Whether the addiction preceded mental health problems or vice versa, it is essential to treat both simultaneously. Otherwise, a person is much more likely to relapse after getting sober. Treating any co-occurring disorders alongside the addiction will help you achieve full and lasting recovery by providing the tools and/or medication necessary to address mental health issues that contribute to substance abuse problems.
Drug rehab programs also provide educational information about addiction so you can fully understand how drugs and alcohol affect your mind, body, and behavior. This information not only empowers you to make better, more educated choices, but it also makes returning to drug and alcohol abuse more difficult because you have the knowledge and know how harmful it is.
In short, without these tools, fully overcoming drug and alcohol addiction is very difficult because there is no structured treatment to address all the different aspects of addiction.
Top Reasons for Getting Clean Without Rehab
Wanting to get sober without rehab isn’t all that uncommon. Some people refuse to acknowledge professional addiction treatment as a viable option or can’t see past the personal reasons that keep them from enrolling in rehab. Some of the most common reasons a person may try to get sober without rehab are:
- Finances – Although research shows that 90-day rehab provides the best opportunity for lasting, long-term sobriety, the cost of long-term inpatient drug rehab can keep some people from enrolling.2 At Nova, we realize that finances can be a hindrance to getting high-quality treatment. To combat this, we work with many insurance companies and provide several payment options to alleviate the financial burden for those enrolled in our drug rehab programs. Fronting the cost for rehab may seem like a burden, but there are many ways to pay for addiction treatment with and without insurance.
- Negative treatment experiences – Someone who wants to get sober may have already had one or more experiences in drug rehab. If they weren’t positive experiences, this person is much more likely to try getting sober without rehab instead.
- Embarrassment – Addiction affects people of all ages, economic statuses, and backgrounds. A person who takes pride in his or her professional success may be worried about what a boss or co-workers will think if they take professional leave to complete an inpatient drug rehab program. The fear of what others will think is a strong influence on whether a person will or will not seek treatment for addiction.
- Denial – Many addicts struggle with denial at some point and may simply be unwilling to admit that they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. This is especially true if the person feels like they can still handle their personal and professional responsibilities. Being a high-functioning alcoholic or drug addict isn’t unheard of, but it’s unlikely to last for very long.
- Lack of resources – If a person lives in a remote location there may not be an addiction treatment center nearby and they may be unable to travel for treatment. In this case, trying to get sober without rehab may seem like the only option.
5 Risks of DIY Drug Rehab
Completing a drug rehab program requires a personal and financial commitment that you may not be ready to make. Alternatively, other tempting DIY options may promise positive results but lack adequate treatment and support for a successful recovery from addiction.
Although DIY drug rehab sounds like a great option, there are five major risks involved that could easily derail your journey to sobriety. If you’re thinking about getting sober, but you’re not convinced that a professional drug rehab program is the way to go, here are a few reasons you may want to reconsider.
1. Severe or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms
Getting sober isn’t as easy as just putting down the bottle. The very first stage of recovery often involves detox and withdrawal, a process in which your body re-learns how to function without addictive substances after you cut back or quit using entirely. As your body adjusts to the absence of the drugs or alcohol, you’ll likely experience some uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms—a result of your body re-stabilizing itself.1
This can cause some serious discomfort and in some instances, it can even be life-threatening. Detoxing from alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines can result in death due to medical complications or untreated psychological withdrawal symptoms. If you regularly abuse multiple substances simultaneously (such as alcohol and prescription painkillers), your withdrawal symptoms may be more severe and unpredictable.
Additionally, the psychological symptoms of withdrawal can be difficult to overcome without support. You may feel anxious, deeply depressed, irritable, and paranoid. You may even start hallucinating, which can make it difficult to determine what’s real and what’s not.
Quitting drugs or alcohol on your own is very difficult, and if you quit cold turkey, you’re more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Starting your recovery journey with a medical detox program can provide the medical and clinical care you need to do so safely, effectively, and comfortably. Although taking this extra step requires you to ask someone for help and enroll in a program, you are much more likely to have a more comfortable detox experience, get sober, and avoid relapse with professional support.
2. Lack of support in the early stages of recovery
The early stages of recovery are often the most difficult because you are adjusting to a new way of life and you’re still learning how to implement important skills and strategies to stay sober. Not to mention, drug cravings can be really powerful.
If you choose to go the do-it-yourself route with DIY drug rehab, you may not have access to valuable structure and support that will guide you as you make this difficult transition. Staying sober when you’re in the “pink cloud” stage might seem easy, but when the pink cloud wears off and you’re left to face the challenges of daily life without a sober support system, you are much more likely to fall off the wagon.
Recovery support is one of the most advantageous benefits of a drug rehab program. Experienced staff members who understand the impact of addiction and are familiar with the treatment and recovery process (or have even gone through it themselves) work one-on-one with clients in rehab to help them address the underlying causes of their addiction and change harmful habits and mindsets.
This individualized support creates an environment that is ideal for sustained sobriety and that allows each client to grow in the ways that are most beneficial to them while they work to tackle ongoing issues that contribute to their substance abuse. This includes any co-occurring disorders like depression, PTSD, or social anxiety.
3. Exposure to triggers at home
DIY drug rehab sounds great in theory, but getting sober on your own can be very difficult if you’re surrounded by family members and friends who use or by drug paraphernalia that reminds you of your past use. Additionally, being in an environment where you frequently used in the past makes it difficult to step away from old behavior patterns and start fresh with a new sober lifestyle.
Getting away from all the triggers in your home environment can be very refreshing and helpful when you’re trying to start over. A rehab center can provide a fresh start and a new environment that allows you to focus on the positive changes you’re making instead of focusing on the past.
Even after residential rehab is over, many people choose to live in a sober living home because they provide a buffer between the safe umbrella of rehab and independent life as a sober person outside of rehab.
4. Lack of comprehensive care
If you choose to forego a professional drug rehab program, you’ll miss out on very important education, family therapy, and counseling from professionals who are trained to help you overcome your addiction. Just as getting physically sober is important, it’s also essential that you address the other factors that have contributed to your addiction, such as physical or emotional abuse, low self-esteem, and shame. However, it can be difficult to grow and change in these areas without a third party to guide you.
While detox programs are designed to address the physical aspects of addiction recovery during withdrawal, a drug rehab program focuses on the psychological aspects of addiction. Overcoming addiction is a long-term process that requires several different methods of treatment to be successful, including medical intervention, therapy, counseling, education, and peer support.
Unfortunately, with DIY drug rehab, you’ll most likely miss out on some of these important aspects of treatment. This could lead to increased incidences of relapse and reduced satisfaction from a lifestyle of sobriety.
5. Fewer opportunities for sober social connection
With certain types of DIY drug rehab, you may be able to form some sober social connections, such as through an online forum or a 12-step fellowship. However, you may feel nervous about approaching social situations sober or have limited access to other sober individuals. This can make sobriety feel isolating and lonely, which will further increase your risk for relapse.
Regularly connecting with other sober individuals and forming strong, healthy relationships with people who support your sobriety is one of the main factors that determine long-term success in sobriety.2 Having a strong foundation of supportive sober peers can give you hope, provide encouragement and accountability, and give you opportunities to invest in others’ lives as well.
From the very beginning stages of the treatment process, drug detox, rehab, and aftercare programs use treatment methods like group counseling, peer support groups, and H&I meetings to facilitate peer involvement in recovery and encourage clients to establish healthy relationships. This process provides even the most introverted individuals with many opportunities to develop a social circle of individuals that are actively engaged in a sober lifestyle.
What Are the Benefits of 90-Day Drug Rehab?
Despite the many reasons people use to justify getting sober without rehab, one thing remains true: 90-day rehab is an effective way to get sober and is a positive investment in your physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Although the prospect of getting sober without rehab may be appealing, there are plenty of reasons why inpatient drug rehab is the better option in the long-run.
- You’ll receive support, resources, and personal guidance from experienced professionals. At our inpatient and outpatient drug rehab in Houston and Austin, you’ll have the opportunity to work with professional recovery specialists and counselors, many of whom are in long-term recovery and have a personal experience overcoming addiction. These individuals can help you resolve the root causes of your addiction instead of just treating the physical symptoms.
- You are less likely to relapse after leaving rehab. Nova’s inpatient drug rehab center specializes in relapse prevention to help you maintain long-term or even lifelong sobriety. In rehab, you’ll learn how to live sober on your own by using tried and true strategies to deal with cravings, triggers, and high-risk situations.
- You are shielded from triggers and stressors that may make you want to use. One of the most challenging aspects of getting sober without rehab is remaining in a high-risk environment. Inpatient drug rehab programs provide an extended time in a drug-free, supportive environment that allows for deep healing and recovery.
- You’ll meet other sober people. It’s hard to leave an old lifestyle of addiction behind, especially when all your close friends are still living that lifestyle. A 90-day rehab program is a great way to meet other sober people and start developing healthy relationships with peers.
- You’ll get referrals for high-quality aftercare programs. Continuing treatment after rehab is key to maintaining your sobriety. At Nova, we provide clients with referrals to transitional housing programs in Austin, Houston, or Colorado Springs. We also provide outpatient drug rehab and personal monitoring programs for alumni who need continued support to stay sober.
How to Do Rehab At Home
If you live in a very remote area, travel frequently for work, or cannot complete a face-to-face treatment program, you may feel like rehab is not a viable option. In these instances, completing rehab at home may be ideal and online drug rehab is an excellent option.
Online addiction treatment gives you the ability to attend online video treatment sessions from anywhere. Online rehab programs are highly effective and they offer convenient and personalized addiction treatment with a full range of services. You can easily access your treatment program via a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet, and regular online interaction with treatment professionals and sober peers will help you establish a solid sober support system outside of the home.
At Nova Recovery Center, we provide an online IOP that is an eight-week program. It consists of conveniently scheduled, interactive, online group therapy sessions that clients can attend from the privacy of their own homes. Each three-hour group session is broadcasted from a licensed Texas facility and led by a licensed professional counselor.
Although online drug and alcohol rehab is not designed to replace face-to-face treatment, it can be a great alternative or supplementary option for you if you need additional flexibility and remote treatment to get sober or maintain your recovery.
Not everyone is a good candidate for online addiction treatment. If you have severe alcohol or drug addictions or you have relapsed several times, you may need to attend a face-to-face rehab program to achieve lasting sobriety. Addiction treatment professionals often use comprehensive assessments to accurately determine if a person would be a good fit for online rehab.
6 Steps to Get Sober
1. Recognize that you need help and reach out.
Admitting that you need help and that you have a substance abuse problem is half the battle. Many people struggle with denial and don’t want to admit that they’ve lost control of their behavior. If you think you might have a substance abuse problem, you can consult the clinical criteria professionals use to identify substance use disorders. These criteria include:3
- Having strong cravings and urges to use
- Wanting to cut back or stop using but being unable to
- Using the substance in larger amounts for longer than you intended
- Neglecting other parts of your life because of substance abuse
- Using substances even when it puts you in danger
- Continuing to use even when it causes relationship problems
If you determine that you have a substance use disorder based on these criteria, reaching out to a trusted friend, family member, or addiction treatment professional and asking for help is a great first step to getting sober.
2. Find the right treatment program.
There are many different types of addiction treatment programs and no single solution is right for everyone. As such, it’s important to find treatment that effectively addresses your needs. Consider the following factors when selecting an addiction treatment program:
- Research-based and evidence-based treatment: A good addiction treatment program will have a positive track record with successful outcomes for clients. Drug detox and rehab programs that provide services and therapies based on research and evidence are much more likely to provide high-quality and effective treatment. These types of programs will give you the best chance at sustaining your sobriety and preventing relapse long after rehab is over.
- Level of treatment services: Depending on the degree of your addiction, you may need to complete various levels of treatment to achieve lasting sobriety. For example, if you are severely addicted or have relapsed several times, a medical detox and residential rehab program may provide the best support. On the other hand, if your addiction is very mild, you may be able to do well with an intensive outpatient program (IOP), which requires that you attend a few hours of treatment per week.
- Accreditation and affiliations: Before you select an addiction treatment program, it’s important to ask about accreditation and any affiliations with nationally-recognized addiction treatment organizations. This will help you ensure that the facility providing the treatment is a trustworthy company that provides legitimate services and is backed by trusted organizations.
- Cost: The cost of addiction treatment programs and services can vary greatly, so before you commit to a program, you will want to fully assess its cost and your financial ability. Most drug rehab programs accept insurance, but if you do not have health insurance, you can ask about alternative payment options such as using your HSA or EAP to access affordable treatment. Some treatment centers may also provide scholarships.
- Staff credentials: A rehab center should be staffed with experienced and caring licensed professional counselors, recovery specialists and advocates, and certified peer support specialists. These individuals will be your guides so it’s important to ensure that they are knowledgeable, trustworthy, and fully invested in what they do.
3. Complete detox.
Many people need medical assistance to detox before they begin a rehab program. Medical detox provides professional management of drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms to make the process easier. Your program will be managed by a team of doctors, nurses, and clinical professionals to treat any physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms and ensure your comfort. During detox, individual and group therapy will help you address your current psychological symptoms as well as prepare you for the next stage in the addiction treatment process, which is rehab.
4. Commit to a long-term rehab program.
Addiction recovery doesn’t just happen overnight. It is a long-term process that requires time and commitment. Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has found that individuals who remain in treatment for at least 90 days have a higher chance of sustaining positive treatment outcomes. According to the NIDA, “Good outcomes are contingent on treatment length.”4 This means committing to a long-term rehab program, such as a 90-day residential program, and following it up with additional treatment services like IOP or sober living will help you prevent relapse and maintain a stable, sober life.
5. Build a support system.
After treatment, having an established sober support system can help ease the transition from rehab back to daily life. Attending mutual support groups regularly, like 12-Step Program meetings, can greatly reduce your likelihood of relapsing, help you build a social sober network, and keep you accountable. Family therapy can also help you and your loved ones resolve issues at home that can contribute to substance abuse problems, address codependency issues, and establish guidelines at home that will help family members cope with the changes and support your sobriety in appropriate, helpful ways.
6. Find appropriate aftercare services.
Once you are done with rehab, aftercare services can provide much-needed support to reduce your risk of relapse and make the transition back into daily life much easier. If your housing situation or other factors in your life make relapse a probable outcome, certain aftercare options can reduce the risk and provide a more gradual re-entry process that will allow you to receive additional support during the transition. Examples could include stepping down into an intensive outpatient program (IOP), living at a sober living home, using an alumni program to stay connected to sober peers and treatment professionals, or continuing 12-Step Program membership.
Start Your Sobriety Journey Today by Enrolling in Long-Term Drug Rehab
While it may be possible to get sober without rehab, the benefits of long-term treatment outweigh any convenience you may experience by quitting cold turkey on your own at home. If you intend to get sober, stay sober, and establish a stable life in recovery, a comprehensive addiction treatment program will provide the necessary support, education, tools, and resources to do so.
If you’re interested in learning more about paying for rehab with or without insurance, eligibility for court-ordered rehab, or how our 90-day rehab program works, please call Nova Recovery Center today to speak with an admissions representative.