The Dangers of Quitting Outside of Treatment

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Simply telling ourselves that we’re going to do it will not be enough. (MyImages – Micha/Shutterstock)

Simply telling ourselves that we’re going to do it will not be enough. (MyImages – Micha/Shutterstock)

If you poke around a bit on the internet, you’ll find a lot of people who believe that treatment centers such as Amethyst are unnecessary. Not only do they believe that a person can quit on their own, but they often quote sometimes questionably funded studies that say quitting outside of treatment has a higher rate of success. It can be confusing to those who are new to the concept of alcoholism and addiction. Especially considering that, for every study saying one thing, there are other studies saying the precise opposite. How is a person supposed to gauge the best manner of quitting when there is so much conflicting information pulling them in two opposing directions?

The answer is quite simple—one must assess the risks of each method. The risks of enrolling in an addiction treatment center are generally quite minimal. Yes, there are scam artists out there, infecting many Florida treatment centers with their questionable methods. Generally, doing a bit of research on a treatment center’s reputation will help you to learn whether or not you are at risk of being exposed to such persons. But for most, the risks are largely financial, which is why we personally help patients navigate their insurance plans to optimize their coverage. In addition, the fact that Amethyst is a somewhat smaller facility allows us to offer our services at a lower-than-average cost.

As for quitting outside of treatment, the risks are far greater than one might assume. Some of them are rather intuitive, but others may be quite shocking to those who do not know a whole lot about the science behind addiction and alcoholism. Below, we’ll explain the primary dangers of quitting drugs and alcohol outside of treatment, and how they can be avoided by enrolling at Amethyst today.

A Lack of Necessary Education

A big part of quitting is learning our triggers. (praphab louilarpprasert/Shutterstock)

A big part of quitting is learning our triggers. (praphab louilarpprasert/Shutterstock)

Some believe that relapse prevention boils down to sheer force of willpower, but this is an incredibly short-sighted viewpoint. Perhaps there are some out there who can get by on willpower alone, but it will not be enough for most addicts and alcoholics. In fact, there is a point on the Jellinek Curve at which addicts cease to truly enjoy their substance of choice, yet they become trapped in a cycle of physical cravings that makes them feel as if they have to use just to “get to normal.”

When faced with these types of physical cravings, quitting will become much more difficult. A person would practically have to be locked up. In fact, we know someone who faced that exact predicament when his willpower failed him and his relapse caused him to engage in so much reckless behavior that he landed himself in a jail cell within 24 hours. There’s another inherent danger in this type of scenario, which we will cover in a bit. For now, the point is that those who relapse after quitting on their own merit have a tendency to relapse hard.

The thing that these people are often missing is necessary education regarding proper relapse prevention tips. They have not learned how to avoid or overcome their triggers, and many have not established the necessary sober support network. We need people whom we can trust, people to whom we can reach out when we feel as if our willpower is shaking. And in many cases, these need to be people who know something about recovery. Our friends and family may not suffice—many of our friends have likely used with us in the past, and the trust we are able to maintain with our family may currently be compromised by our previous actions under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

This is not to say that friends and family play no role in our recovery. In fact, their role can be considerably important. But we need a larger support network, and treatment is one of the easiest places to build such a tool. It is also where we learn more about our triggers through individual and group therapy, learning how to process our feelings and emotions in a healthy way so that we do not feel the need to go out and use. But while relapse is most certainly a threat, the dangers can actually be much, much more tangible.

Major Withdrawal Symptoms

The pain of withdrawal sends many right back to their old habits. But that’s not the only danger. (Malyshev Maksim/Shutterstock)

The pain of withdrawal sends many right back to their old habits. But that’s not the only danger. (Malyshev Maksim/Shutterstock)

A man in Charleston was recently arrested for child neglect after walking down the street with his 9-year-old son. He had a blood alcohol content of .462 at the time. To put that into context, a man arrested for drunk driving in 2014 with a BAC of .627 was said to have more than twice the lethal limit, with .30 generally considered the point at which the drinker is in danger of becoming comatose or even dying. And sure enough, the man arrested in Charleston was found dead in jail just one day after his arrest.

That’s where the story gets interesting. It is believed that he did not die due to alcohol poisoning, but rather due to alcohol withdrawal. This is not the first time that something like this has happened. A Colorado inmate died in 2015 due to dehydration, which the official cause of death linked to his heroin withdrawal. We talk a lot about drugs such as heroin, fentanyl and other opioids, generally noting that the withdrawal symptoms during detox can be quite miserable. Men like those referenced above show that they can also be quite fatal.

Addiction treatment facilities such as Amethyst are already aware that withdrawal can be deadly if not treated correctly. Those who exhibit particularly severe withdrawal symptoms often need certain medications to keep them healthy until their bodies have fully detoxed. When a person attempts quitting on their own, they are exposing themselves to possibly harmful withdrawal symptoms without medical professionals there to ease them through it and ensure that they are safe. Quitting without taking this possibility into account is quite reckless. No one should ever put themselves in the position of feeling as if they are forced to use drugs if they wish to survive the night.

In many cases, however, this is precisely what will happen. A person may begin to overcome their withdrawal symptoms in just 1-2 weeks, but this will feel like a month when the addict is spending every moment in agony. Even those who are not at risk of death will often give up on quitting because they simply can’t stand the pain and discomfort to which they have been subjected. Those who believe that quitting is a sheer matter of willpower should not underestimate the power of withdrawal to drive many alcoholics right back to the bottle, and many addicts right back to the needle. With potential overdose death at one end of the scale and potential withdrawal death at the other, quitting on one’s own can often feel like an impossible feat. This is where treatment centers such as Amethyst enter the picture.

Quitting at Amethyst Recovery

The road to recovery is not always easy, but it will feel much smoother in treatment than outside. (Gustavo Frazao/Shutterstock)

The road to recovery is not always easy, but it will feel much smoother in treatment than outside. (Gustavo Frazao/Shutterstock)

Quitting on one’s own may feel next to impossible, but quitting is a lot easier when spending day/night care in the hands of professionals who know how detox works and how to ease the symptoms of withdrawal that so often accompany it. Those with particularly bad symptoms will still feel them to some degree, but those with less severe symptoms will find that quitting in the hands of professionals makes for a rather smooth ride into recovery.

Of course, not every stretch of road on the pathway to sobriety is so smooth. Therapy will be quite challenging. But as noted above, this is where we receive the education we need to stay sober. When quitting on our own, we are taking for granted that we will be able to perform the necessary self-exploration and analysis without any guidance whatsoever. And again, perhaps some can. But so many of us enter treatment with a great deal of denial in our hearts. We still feel as if, given time and a bit of experimentation, we can learn to control our substance abuse and make it somehow work for us. We need help to break through these delusions and overcome our reservations if we are to achieve long-term sobriety.

Past a certain point, recovery becomes the responsibility of the addict. We do eventually have to take responsibility for our own actions. This is especially true of those who choose to work the Twelve Steps, which is generally recommended for those who wish to stay sober. But the sheer act of quitting itself will be far easier in a treatment center than it will be at home, where it is simply all too easy to pick up the phone and call our dealers or go to the store and buy a bottle.

Those who would like more information on our programs and how quitting is made easier through addiction treatment should contact us as soon as possible. Quitting our substance abuse is much like anything else, in that we are much less likely to go through with it when we put it off for too long. But start today, and the wonders of sobriety will be yours to experience without hesitation. All you have to do is pick up the phone. We’ll be here to answer any inquiries you might have.

2 Comments

  1. george medzerian

    scare tactics…not based in research.

    Reply
    • Kieran Hair

      Look at the sources. The stories are documented news. The figures come directly from NIDA. Withdrawal death has been around for quite some time.

      Reply

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