To most people, addiction recovery seems pretty cut and dry. They say things like “just put the drugs/bottle down” as if the answer to years of pain and trauma is so simple. Sure, most people know that detoxing is a necessary step for overcoming substance abuse, but the over-simplification of recovery is a major contributor to harmful stigmas and falsehoods surrounding the journey. What many seldom realize is that the journey goes well beyond purging your system of toxins: it’s continuous, daily commitment to making the best decisions for your life. Even detox isn’t as straightforward and simple as we think it is. Here are the five stages of detox necessary for long-term recovery:
The easiest stage of detox for most people to understand is physical. Breaking those bonds of addiction allows our minds to be clear as we take on the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of recovery. For many beginning their journey, this stage is the most daunting; active addiction makes it seem impossible to lead a sober life. Fear of withdrawal symptoms or failing to stay true to your path may cause hesitation.
It’s important to recognize that these fears are your addiction’s attempt to maintain control over your life. As a disease of the mind, addiction will do anything it can to keep you sick and miserable. Through the clinically supervised MAT detox programs offered at Edge Recovery, you can begin your transition into sober life safely and comfortably.
While most people understand that detox is primarily a physical process, the emotional aspects of detox is necessary, too. People who have never experienced addiction don’t realize that the emotional and psychological ties to substance abuse can be stronger than any physical urge. Often drugs or alcohol act as a buffer between you and emotionally difficult situations, offering an escape or emotional numbing. Challenging the impulse to drink or get high when things get tough takes conscious effort and the incorporation of healthier habits and coping mechanisms.
Closely connected with the emotional aspect of addiction recovery, mental detox comes with its own challenges. We know that addiction heavily influences the way we think and behave, so the detox process also begins our journey of breaking mental dependency on illicit substances. In active addiction, we are convinced that our drug and alcohol use isn’t a problem or that it’s a vital means of coping with life. Learning to recognize the harm substance abuse brings to your life helps to solidify your commitment to sober living. Any and all lifestyle transformations begin internally and mentally before they ever manifest physically.
Understanding the benefits of the internal stages of detox is straightforward enough, however, neglecting external influences can quickly lead to unexpected triggers and relapse. While undergoing medically assisted detox through a fully accredited facility creates a recovery-focused environment, you must still purge negative influences beyond your time in treatment to ensure long-term recovery success. Continuing to associate yourself with toxic people, keep harmful habits and routines, and overall maintain the same lifestyle as began your journey will only hinder your growth and progress. Remember: if it isn’t helping you move forward, it’s holding you back.
Just as the mental and emotional detox stages go hand in hand, social and environmental detox play into each other as well. Part of living a sober life is surrounding yourself with positive influences to help you stay steady on your recovery journey. To put it bluntly, you can’t keep company with people who are actively indulging in substance abuse and expect to maintain your clean and sober lifestyle. Don’t try to strongarm your way through temptation to salvage friendships. The people who are meant to continue to be a part of your sober life will support and encourage you every step of the way.