How to Quit Drugs Without Rehab
Once in a while I’m asked an absurd question, “how to quit drugs without rehab?” To put things in perspective, the absurdity to this question is no different than “how can I make money without a degree?” There are millions of people who make good money without a degree, but colleges don’t teach that. If they did then how would they get people to spend $50K+ on a bachelor degree that has no guarantee on getting them a job?
It’s the same with rehabs. Rehabilitation facilities want you to believe that you need them to get and maintain sobriety without providing other options. How else would they get someone to spend $30K+ on a month long inpatient treatment program then $10K+ on a 2 month long outpatient program? Drug rehabilitation is a business, and when business gets involved with the health industry ethics don’t go hand-in-hand.
The success rate of drug rehabilitation facilities for long term sobriety isn’t high. You may read numbers like 30-50% but what they’re calculating is people that actually stay the full duration of the program, not people who stay sober for the rest of their life. In my experience, nearly everyone I’ve been to rehab with has relapsed. The one’s that didn’t relapse took action outside of rehab. If you’re searching “how to get sober?” you’re asking the wrong question, getting sober is easy, just stop using. I got sober hundreds of times. “How do I get and stay sober?” is the question you need to ask yourself, and the solution I intend to provide in this article.
The Flaws of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Treating the Addicted Mind
Between February 2012 and June 2013 I tried to use rehab solemnly to stay sober with fleeting success. I would have periods of sobriety tending to last roughly 2 months then relapse like clockwork. I now have over 4 years of sobriety and can look back and see why rehab was ineffective at treating my addiction which is attributed to cognitive behavioral therapy being ineffective.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is essentially trying to change a persons thought patterns which will in turn change their actions. The problem with this treatment for myself and many other addicts is we’re the kings of rationalization. Most of our addiction we rationalized our behaviors that hurt ourselves and other people. It was how we survived, how we coped, how we stayed in denial. A therapist may challenge this destructive thought process. However, it’s so engrained with who we are there’s very little chance they will be able to change it for an extended period of time. I would have points in rehab where my thought process did change the way I behaved and was given hope these thought patterns could last the rest of my life. I was convinced rehab was working! But eventually I would digress back into my old patterns of thoughts which led to addictive behaviors in one form or another.
So What Worked for Me?
My ability to gain long term sobriety has come from the flip side of cognitive behavioral therapy. Rather than trying to train my thought process into right acting, I forced myself to act right which in-turn changed my thought process. I forced myself to take esteem-able actions. To apologize for things I’ve done in the past, admit when I’m wrong, let go of resentments, be of service to other people, buy my mother flowers for Mothers Day, put my money in a savings account, eat right, go to the gym, etc.
Seems Simple, What Was it Like?
At first this was a deliberate conscious effort, especially admitting I’m wrong and owning up to my part with no expectations of the other person owning up to theirs. Forcing myself to act against my vindictive thought patterns took every ounce of my strength. However, after a while these positive actions became habit. Now it feels weird for me to stay angry at someone for a extended period of time, to lie, to shop-lift, to know I’m wrong but not apologize. It’s not a deliberate effort anymore, it’s who I am. Of course it would feel weird to use drugs again. I realized I could quit drugs without rehab.
You don’t need rehab to know what the next right thing to do is. Right now you probably already have an idea. There’s someone you can call to apologize to, there’s some resentment you can write down and try to forgive that person, there’s some healthy choice you can make. We have a natural intuition for the next right action and only you can make the choice to take take it. If you want to be sober and are willing to do whatever it takes, then you’ll take that action. If you don’t take that action it’s likely due to things not getting bad enough for the willingness it takes to break years of self-destructive thoughts, and that’s ok. But understand this, if you’re not ready no therapist or rehab will get you ready. Keep experimenting until you’re ready and my prayers go out to you that you’re ready before death or imprisonment.
I hope this article helped you learn how to quit drugs without rehab.
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Philip Markoff (Associate of Science) is an online influencer and thought leader on addiction education; he is known as his alias “CG Kid” who’s obtained a large audience primarily on YouTube as a vlogger and journalist. His current sobriety date from polysubstance chemical dependency is June 9th, 2013.