Drug addiction affects over 23.5 million Americans and under 12% of those addicted actually get treatment. Although drugs and alcohol all have different mechanisms of action, all addictions have the same root behaviors as well as similar biochemical origins. Addiction is a disease that affects people physically, spiritually, mentally, socially, and typically affects the addict’s family and friends in some aspect as well.

The Freefall into Addiction

Most behavior begins with good intentions. Having a few drinks or starting to use drugs to simply calm your nerves seems innocuous at first – nobody plans to get “hooked”. In fact, there may be plenty of rewards in the beginning like the feeling that your stresses have been lifted off your very tired shoulders. Then it all falls apart because there’s no way to maintain the same buzz or high or whatever your original intention was. What was once fun has now become a vice, essentially adding to your stress.

That’s the way addictions work and it’s pretty much the same for all drugs and alcohol. Most users are trying to fill a need and unfortunately doing so with the use of substances will not accomplish the goal. Users and abusers need not feel isolated or alone – many others are facing similar issues. Drug addiction is sometimes referred to as a societal disease. While this is not entirely true, society does tempt us with circumstances that seem to provoke addictive behavior.

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As a result, there are many among us who have a problem with drug and alcohol addiction. An equal or stronger effort in the direction of sobriety needs to come about to overcome this terrible momentum and move forward to a healthier society as a whole.

Coming off Drugs and Alcohol

The first stage of getting off the addictive substances is to go through withdrawal and detox. This means you’ll need to remove the remnants of the drugs and alcohol from your system before long-term treatment can progress. The stages of the process are different for each type of drug used or for alcohol, and differs for each individual.

The detox phase can take longer for some than for others and is moderately dependent on your drug of choice and for how long you’ve been using. For example, detox from alcohol can be relatively quick compared to that from narcotics. Some people have been using multiple substances and will need to withdraw from them all at the same time. With some substances there will be a transition from the abused drug to a simulator type medication that will help with the withdrawal process, but the patient will need time to adjust to the new medication as well.

Essentially, the detox stage is when the body is brought back into functional balance after experiencing a foreign and damaging substance within. This is important since the physical damage from drug and alcohol abuse can be extensive by the time the person seeks detoxification.


Once you have successfully made it through detox, ideally, a rehabilitation program or “rehab” is typically needed for ultimate long-term success

With this in mind, rehabilitation programs are available for private admissions as well as for public need. There are plenty of options available, no matter to what you were addicted. The aim of drug and alcohol rehab is to allow addicts the time they need to cope with the host of issues behind their addictions and to develop new coping and social skills to minimize the risk of relapse. The overall goal is to construct a new lifestyle with new habits, all conducive to supporting continued sobriety.

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After rehabilitation, it’s often recommended that former addicts continue to get support via group therapy sessions or other similar programs. The most important thing is to make sure that you have a good support system to assure that you won’t relapse. The longer you’re able to stay sober, the easier it gets.

Why Not Just Detox?

You may want to believe that the only important aspect of the recovery process is the actual detox portion of the program. Detox is very important. But the damage done to your body and the psychological conflict experienced must be addressed and resolved to be able to successfully continue to live a clean life.

Reviewed for accuracy by:

Randi Bruneau

Randi is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Supervisor who has over 20 years of experience in the field of mental health and addictions. She has worked in both clinical and administrative leadership roles and also has extensive career experience in gender specific trauma treatment, crisis intervention, structural family work and substance use disorder treatment and supervision.

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Detox alone does not address various underlying issues such as psychological or psychiatric matters, family issues, work stresses, abuse, or any other condition of life you might have been trying to obscure with substances. These issues will need to be addressed once and for all for continued sobriety to be possible.