Like any other system that’s socialized in our country, sobriety comes with its own set of cultural norms and expectations. One of which is the idea that in order to “really” get sober, you have to participate in an in-patient rehabilitation program. With recent studies indicating that a formalized recovery plan isn’t the only pathway to sobriety, alternative methods of recovery are being discussed with increasing frequency. People are asking: “Is it possible to get sober without rehab?”
Before we dive into this content together, keep in mind that Openly Sober never aims to be prescriptive. Our goal is to present both fascinating and current topics connected to sobriety in order to engage our community in meaningful conversations—never to suggest what recovery program is best for you.
Now that we’ve disclaimer-ed up, let’s talk rehab.
First, it’s important to note that for some, getting sober is a separate pursuit from staying sober. The first obstacle you have to overcome in getting sober is the often-grueling process of detoxing your body. If you’ve been regularly using drugs or alcohol over a period of time, you’ve developed a chemical dependency. And if you try to sober up on your own, you’re going to battle potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, depending on your level of dependency.
Even if you don’t think you’re “hooked,” seek advice from a medical professional before you begin the detox process. Detoxing without medical supervision is extremely dangerous and is not recommended.
The next step (or the first step for those not requiring detox) is to choose how you’ll commit to sobriety.
If you commit to in-patient rehab, you’ll check into a facility for a specific amount of time (typical stays start around 30 days). After which, there are more choices to make. You can choose to attend 90 AA meetings in 90 days, check into a less intensive rehab program commonly known as an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program), or you can re-enter your life and pretend you just went to the beach for a month.
Here's the deal. For some, rehab is a necessary step to learn the coping mechanisms and sobriety strategies you’ll need to maintain recovery on your own. But for others, there are new options emerging that might be a better and more effective fit.
Strategies like . . .
Recovery coaches. People in recovery who professionally keep others accountable with their own recovery goals are called recovery coaches. Studies and evidence shows that recovery coaches can be helpful in maintaining
Mediation. A growing field, studies have shown that meditation can boost brain chemicals and reduce relapse.
Meditation can also provide awareness of triggers and cravings without us acting
Therapy. There are a wide variety of one-one-one and group therapy options that help people get and stay sober. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing have been proven to
work well for addiction. Many therapists specialize in treating addiction, and can
pick and choose techniques best suited to handle your specific issues.
Natural recovery. As shocking as this may be, natural remission is the most common type of recovery available. Natural recovery involves someone simply making a decision to stay sober, and keeping that decision by whatever means available to them outside of formal treatment.
Rehab is not the only option. Most people can’t afford it, and even fewer are able to take the time away from work and family to commit to an in-patient stay. While checking into a facility is one way to live sober, it’s certainly not the only way.