A reprise of our last conversation:
We discussed how we are powerless over alcohol and other drugs only while they are in our systems. People who are addicted to alcohol, prescription drugs, cocaine, opiates — whatever — are urged by the non-thinking (primitive) brain to seek more drugs. This message is so powerful that we subconsciously believe that we will die if we do not use. Once we have been through detox, the numbing effect on the thinking brain is reduced and we become able to think more clearly and make decisions about our further recovery.
We also considered how our lives had been unmanageable in a variety of ways: relationships, jobs, financial issues, legal problems and so forth — no surprise, since we had been turning off our ability to think critically and make good decisions. Unmanageability, we said, involves the details, and they in turn affect the overall quality of our life and the lives of those around us.
So, how do we deal with the practical issues?
First of all, we have to detox. Inpatient detox with the appropriate medical support is nearly always the way to go if possible. The detox process involves physical and emotional issues (including those urges we talked about) that are best managed by experts. There are ways to make the process far more comfortable than simply doing it “cold turkey,” and much safer as well. Accredited detoxification facilities are also more trustworthy.
There is a growing industry of practitioners who prescribe maintenance drugs over long periods. This simply substitutes one drug with another. Physical recovery and, to a great degree, the other aspects of returning to productive status in society depend on the brain’s ability to repair itself in the absence of drugs. Drug maintenance, whether by storefront doctors or government programs, does not create a drug-free brain, and inhibits the needed repairs. Inpatient detox provides the support and safe space needed to get through this most difficult period, along with good nutrition, education and fellowship.
After detox, the best course is treatment in an impatient treatment facility that combines therapy with education, good food, exercise, and exposure to outside support programs such as AA, NA and the vast number of other fellowships. While this writer is a strong proponent of 12 Step programs, there are a wide variety of others, including faith-based, that are capable of providing the companionship, support and guidance that we need in early recovery.
If we cannot afford, or are otherwise unable to manage extended inpatient treatment, then deep immersion in the fellowship of these groups is our best resource. It is not impossible to get clean and stay clean on your own, but why reinvent the wheel? Millions of people have successfully gotten and remained clean and sober. Not utilizing their experience, strength and hope could be fatal.