Detox is the process of purging drugs or alcohol from your system, generally in a specialized facility, in safe and controlled manner.

It is merely the first step in drug or alcohol abuse treatment. In order to sustain recovery and avoid relapse, you will need some form of follow-up treatment, or aftercare.

Addiction is a complex brain disease for which relapse is as common as it is with other chronic illnesses, like type I diabetes, asthma, and hypertension, with rates between 40 and 60 percent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Relapse after detox can be especially deadly, as detox may reset your system and a return to abuse at levels you were previously used to can easily lead to a life-threatening overdose. Drug overdose was the leading cause of overdose death in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, as 43,982 Americans died from a fatal overdose that year. Luckily, there are several steps you can take to remain drug- and alcohol-free after detox.

Continued Treatment

Detox is not a “cure” for addiction. After a detox treatment program, it is important to avoid people with whom, and places where, you used to do drugs for a period of time. Staying away from your old stomping grounds or drug-using social circle can help you change your habits and build new and healthier ones. It can also remove the temptation in the early stages of recovery as certain places or people may induce cravings.

Addiction affects the reward center in your brain, altering the motivation pathways and leading to emotional and physical dependency. Detox helps you to reach physical stabilization, but it is important to find a healthy psychological balance as well. After detox, one of the best things you can do to help you remain on track and drug-free is enter into a drug rehab or treatment program that should include individual therapy, group therapy, and complementary treatments.

Evidence-based treatment models employ and utilize the most current scientific research in tandem with the knowledge and experience of a mental health or medical professional. They also take into account your personal experiences and goals in order to determine a treatment model that will best suit you.

Counseling and Therapy

Counseling and therapy sessions can help you to determine the root cause of your addiction (i.e., what led you to abuse substances in the first place) and modify these negative behavior and thought patterns. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, works by defining your social, emotional, and environmental triggers that may encourage self-destructive behaviors such as drug abuse. One such method, cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, may actually make positive changes in the brain related to anxiety and fear, which may also be relevant for substance abuse treatment, as published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.

Finding the Right Treatment Program

A drug treatment program can be either inpatient, where you stay in a specialized facility for a period of time receiving around-the-clock care, or outpatient, where you attend sessions or meetings during the day or in the evenings and go home to sleep at night. Inpatient treatment can help you to push the reset button on your life, as it offers a safe and confidential environment where you can learn new coping mechanisms and life skills in order to assist you in maintaining sobriety throughout recovery. Outpatient treatment is generally reserved for those who have unaccommodating schedules and a strong and involved support system at home. Medical professionals at a drug treatment facility should first facilitate a comprehensive assessment to determine which method and level of treatment is right for your individual needs.

Peer support and 12-step programs supplement counseling and therapy groups by surrounding you with other people in similar situations and providing a safe place where you can share emotions and personal stories. These programs or groups can help keep you accountable and often contain an element of spirituality.

Most drug treatment programs also provide educational opportunities. The more you know about what to expect with addiction and recovery, the better prepared you can be to handle whatever may come. You need to set small and attainable goals for yourself and stick to them. Give yourself rewards for reaching these goals that are healthy and positive, such as an outing with a friend, for example.

Family support and counseling can help you rebuild personal relationships that may have suffered during periods of substance abuse. Detox can help remove the drugs from your body, but it is your commitment to counseling and therapy sessions that can help you maintain sobriety long-term.

Nutrition and Exercise Programs

Not only can exercise tone and condition your body and promote heart and lung health, it can also function to reduce stress and increase overall well-being.

Addiction can take a toll on your body physically and mentally, and it may affect your appetite and cause you to make poor eating and lifestyle choices. Replenishing the nutrients in your body by eating healthy and balanced meals can help increase your energy levels and promote recovery and healing. Eat foods rich in protein and high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, and avoid highly processed foods and those with elevated levels of sugar and fat. You should also limit caffeine and tobacco use during recovery.

After detox, you may notice an increased appetite, and drug cravings may even manifest as hunger. In order to maintain physical health, be sure to stick to regular meal times and small, healthy snacks. Drink plenty of water, as drug abuse can leave you dehydrated.

Your doctor or medical health professional may also recommend that you take vitamin or mineral supplements in order to complement the body’s ability to bounce back and heal. Over time, drug abuse may damage internal organs, and a nutritious diet plan can help the body recover more quickly after detox.

Exercising during recovery may help prevent a return to drug use as well since the better you feel physically, the less likely you are to relapse. Regular exercise can also release natural endorphins, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression while increasing self-esteem and confidence levels. Studies published by Frontiers in Psychiatry found that regular aerobic exercise may be a significant factor in reducing substance abuse.

Stress is a major risk factor for turning to substance abuse, and thus, it’s a major risk factor for addiction. Lowering stress levels may therefore also decrease relapse rates. Yoga and meditation are popular as methods for reducing stress and anxiety. These ancient Eastern techniques help to turn your focus inward and to develop a healthy emotional, spiritual, and physical balance. Yoga has been proven to reduce depression by as much as 50 percent and anxiety by 30 percent in patients who experienced emotional distress and attended yoga classes twice a week for three months, Harvard Health publishes. Yoga and meditation promote self-reflection and balance, and they can be performed anywhere, by anyone, and without any special equipment.

Additional Tips for Maintaining Sobriety

In addition to entering into a drug treatment program after detox, eating healthy, engaging in physical activities, and being open to holistic or alternative methods such as meditation or yoga, the following tips can help you maintain your sobriety as well:

  • Stay busy. Keeping your mind engaged can reduce cravings.
  • Attend all meetings, counseling, and therapy sessions, and be prepared to do the work and any homework given.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Being well-rested means your mind will be clearer, and you’ll feel more levelheaded.
  • Be patient. Recovery takes time. It is vital that you don’t rush it and allow yourself to fully commit and complete the program.
  • Reach out to others when you feel the need, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Surround yourself with caring and supportive people.
  • Pick up a new hobby, such as a form of artistic expression like drawing, painting, playing an instrument, sculpting, or writing to help organize your thoughts and emotions.
  • Stick with a program even if you are feeling good. Be careful not to get overconfident or complacent too soon.
  • Seek personal, spiritual, and emotional growth.

Remember: Relapse Does Not Equal Failure

Additionally, remember that relapse is common and does not constitute failure. Oftentimes, relapse is a part of the long-term recovery process. Recovery is a real and attainable goal for everyone. According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), almost 10 percent of American adults aged 18 and older consider themselves to be in recovery from a drug or alcohol dependency. More than 23 million Americans have overcome alcohol or drug abuse and addiction, and you can too.

Finding the right facility and treatment program is important to a sustained recovery. The Recovery Village provides a comprehensive and full continuum of care, including traditional and holistic methods, in a safe and comfortable luxury environment with various amenities and options available to you, depending on the level of care you require.

With a state-of-the-art detox facility staffed by nurses 24 hours a day, and numerous options for aftercare on site, you or your loved one can receive confidential and compassionate treatment. Call to learn more.

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.