The Safe Way to Stop Using Drugs

Making the decision to end drug use is a wonderful, positive step in the right direction. However, recovery is more than just one decision. Ending drug use can come with some risks, but these risks are mitigated with a few smart choices. Explore how individuals who struggle with addiction can end drug use completely as well as safely.

Acknowledge Addiction

Once a person has determined to stop using drugs, it is critical that the word addiction is used. Often, individuals skirt around this issue. By not acknowledging addiction, or by saying it is merely recreational, individuals won’t be able to benefit fully from addiction treatment. It can also impact recovery in the days, weeks and months to come.

Acknowledging a drug addiction is no easy feat. It may be something that individuals have been avoiding for years. Friends and family members can help significantly during this phase by pointing out the clear signs of addiction.

Once a drug use problem has been categorized as an addiction, it becomes clear that treatment is necessary. In addition, the acknowledgement of an addiction means understanding that there is a physical illness and diagnosis at play. This means that individuals must seek help and they don’t need to be ashamed. Remind patients that no person struggling with cancer would be ashamed or guilty to reveal their diagnosis and seek help, and neither should a person struggling with addiction.

Finally, admitting addiction means committing to sobriety. A person who claims drug use is simply for fun, or a recreational habit, may not understand the need for complete abstinence from drug use. Avoid the slippery slope of justified use and potential relapse by admitting addiction rather than habit.

Understand the Risks of Quitting Cold Turkey

There are some potential risks involved with quitting drug consumption. Since the body has formed an addiction to these substances, taking them away suddenly can result in unpleasant symptoms. Beyond just the more common withdrawal symptoms, however, it is critical to understand the serious risks that may be involved.

In some cases, patients who decide to cease drug consumption using a cold turkey method could suffer from severe dehydration. This happens because of a combination of factors like diarrhea, vomiting, lack of thirst and sweating. Dehydration can be more than just uncomfortable, because it can lead to things like heart failure. Clearly, quitting alone can be dangerous.

Similarly, it is not unusual for individuals who are quitting drugs to struggle with undiagnosed mental health issues during withdrawal. In addition to depression and anxiety, both common symptoms, things like paranoia and violence may be possible. That’s another reason why it is dangerous to go through the process alone.

Finally, those who are planning to go through a detox should be aware that the process puts extra stress on the body. The medical community regards this as a necessary stress that ultimately leads to better health and happiness.

However, those with preexisting conditions may not be able to handle this added stress. A medical evaluation prior to detox can determine whether patients are healthy enough to handle a detox. Sometimes, patients need to complete a detox in a hospital to ensure that they have access to all emergency treatments that could be necessary.

Plan for Detox as Well as Rehab

In addition to wanting to stop using drugs safely, most patients want to end drug use for a lifetime. To achieve that goal, patients need to be aware of the scope of the recovery process. Just making it through withdrawal may be the first step, but there is much more ahead.

Quitting drugs, and ceasing consumption once and for all, is the first step toward ending an addiction. This stage is typically the focus of detox, which usually lasts an average of one week. This is the stage that gets the most attention, and it is when withdrawal symptoms are most common.

Following detox, the much longer stage of rehab can begin. Also known as addiction treatment, this phase of recovery establishes the causes of drug addiction and works to prevent relapse. Without addiction treatment, detox won’t be as valuable, and it may not be enough to prevent relapse.

Be Open to Options That Increase Safety During Detox

The safest and most responsible way to stop using drugs is to seek the help of professionals. Medical staff who understand the nature of addiction and recovery will be best prepared to help patients cease drug use in the safest way possible. Often, that is not done through a cold turkey approach. Being open to other options, under medical supervision, may make the process more successful.

Some patients will do best with a tapering approach. This can often be done with synthetic drugs that don’t deliver a high. Medical professionals can administer increasingly smaller doses of these drugs to minimize withdrawal symptoms and prevent major problems.

There are also other cases where pharmacological approaches can help patients. Using pain medications, sleep aids or sedatives can all be appropriate if recommended by a medical professional in a detox facility. While this is never recommended alone, it can be a part of a comprehensive approach to detox recovery.

Commit to Lifelong Recovery

Quitting drugs safely is a courageous goal. However, you want to make the commitment to quit for good. Unfortunately, many individuals can feel like treatment for addiction is a hamster wheel. The best way to get off that wheel for good is by committing to lifelong recovery.

Detox, and even rehab, can’t be the end of the road. In order to end an addiction forever, continuing and ongoing care may be necessary. There are many different ways to approach this, and some popular options include group therapy or 12-step programs.

To safely end drug addiction, it is always recommended that individuals seek out professional help. The right tools and resources can ensure that the process is safe and comfortable, and it can also go a long way in making it successful for a lifetime.