Why Detox Alone is Not Enough for Full Recovery

Unfortunately, there is still a common misperception that recovering from addiction is as simple as stopping drug or alcohol use. Though, as anyone who has faced a substance use disorder can tell you, there is nothing easy about that, and full recovery is more complex. Even detox alone is not enough to overcome the far-reaching impact of addiction.

Approximately 21 million Americans are affected by substance use disorders, yet only about 10 percent receive the treatment they need for recovery. Some people try to go it on their own, but this can be a dangerous approach, especially when dealing with the symptoms of withdrawal. It can be safer and more effective to engage in a comprehensive treatment program that includes detox, residential treatment, outpatient care, and therapy as ways of helping individuals overcome the challenges of addiction.

Addiction Affects the Brain

Detox alone is not enough for full recovery because of the impact that drugs and alcohol have on the brain. They rewire the brain’s reward system and alter how information is processed. While detox is a great start because it rids the body of harmful toxins and the influence of addictive substances, it does not address the underlying factors that contribute to addiction. No one plans to become addicted to drugs or alcohol, and the issues that played a role in use must be identified and managed.

Understand Your Triggers

Part of an effective recovery plan is understanding triggers that can lead to relapse. The most basic approach is avoid being around drugs or alcohol so the temptation is decreased, but there are other triggers too. For instance, being around certain people, hearing a specific song on the radio, seeing drug paraphernalia, going to a restaurant you used to drink at, or feeling overwhelmed by stress can all increase risk for drug or alcohol use. Detox by itself does not address these issues because the focus is on the physical aspect of addiction and ridding the body of addictive substances.

Recovery Takes Time

Detox programs usually last for several days. The length of treatment depends on the severity of the addiction and which substances are involved. However, full recovery takes much longer. Stopping drinking or drug use does not eliminate the desire to use these substances again. It does not change how someone copes with stressful situations or retrain their brain to find reward in other activities.

Comprehensive treatment programs walk you through each step of recovery and deal with challenges as they arise. They help you to understand how addiction has impacted your life and what changes you can make to support recovery. Addiction did not happen overnight, and recovery doesn’t either. Detox is the first step of a longer journey.

Create Healthier Routines

Another aspect of a full recovery from addiction is changing your thoughts and behaviors. In order to reduce risk of relapse, you can’t go back to doing what you always did before entering a residential addiction treatment program. It was those routines and behaviors that helped keep active addiction going.

Instead, it’s time to approach each day in a new way. This involves setting goals for yourself, creating a safe space free from drugs and alcohol, building a strong support system, and practicing self-care. You might have to change the route you take home from work to avoid certain locations or start making a warm cup of tea in the evening to combat stress whereas before you would have a drink.

To fully embrace recovery and make the most of your future in sobriety, it is essential to realize that detox alone is not enough. It is certainly a start to improving physical and mental health, but in order to reduce risk of relapse and make lasting changes, engaging in a comprehensive treatment program tailored to your individual needs is necessary. Crossroads provides gender-responsive care that addresses the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual impact of addiction and co-occurring disorders.