When an addiction to prescription drugs is in full swing, it can be difficult or impossible for addicted people to even think of going for a day without taking their pills. The idea of going for weeks or longer might be even harder to fathom. However, those who really want to recover from an addiction like this simply must come up with a method by which they can get off drugs and learn to stay sober. Those who choose to do this at home have two options: They can wean off drugs, or they can go cold turkey.

Weaning Away

Prescription drugs can cause persistent changes in the cells of the brain, meaning that people who take these drugs become physically dependent on them. Sometimes, that dependence can cause life-threatening reactions if people attempt to detox without professional help. People who take benzodiazepines, for example, can develop seizures during detox unless they use a tapering dose of drugs. Typically, this means using a stair-step approach over a period of weeks until the person isn’t taking any drugs at all.

Coming Off Clean

Some people resist the idea of tapering, as they don’t like the idea of continuing to use while they’re trying to get a handle on a healthy life. People like this might use a so-called “cold turkey” approach, in which they stop taking drugs abruptly and wade through the physical changes that result.

It’s important to reiterate that this isn’t a safe method to use for benzodiazepines. But for people addicted to prescription painkillers, the symptoms of an abrupt withdrawal might include little more than:

  • Muscle aches
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Runny nose
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety

People in this situation might be uncomfortable, and they might have deep cravings for drugs, but they are not likely to lose their lives in the process.

Success Rates

It’s difficult to determine the success between tapering and abrupt sobriety, particularly because the people who use these two types of methods tend to use different types of drugs. However, there is some evidence that suggests that people who use either process at home have a lower rate of success, when compared to people who use a structured rehab program.

For example, in a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry, researchers found that 11 of 78 people who had been through inpatient detox relapsed, and of those people, most relapsed within one week of leaving the treatment program. After detox, most programs provide intensive follow-up care, just to ensure that people continue into the treatment programs that can teach them to preserve their sobriety. Without that, most people lapse back into drugs. People who don’t have any kind of outreach, because they’re going through the process alone at home, are more likely to relapse to drugs as a result. They just don’t have the kind of support they might need in order to really change their lives.

At Black Bear Lodge, we know that detox is only one part of the healing process addicted people need to go through. That’s why we offer a comprehensive treatment program that pairs physical addiction help with psychological therapy tools that can make sobriety really stick. We also use innovative therapies, like art therapy and adventure therapy, to make life lessons easier to learn. We’d love to tell you more about this. Please call.