Addiction Treatment

Why Quitting Drugs Alone Is a Bad Idea

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Last updated: 05/6/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Trying to quit abusing drugs on your own and without the help of a professional rehab program is extremely risky and much more likely to lead to relapse and other serious issues.

The Dangers of Quitting Substance Abuse Without Treatment

The choice to quit on one’s own usually isn’t the best or the safest course of action, especially when severe addiction is involved. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will.” In addition, it can even be very dangerous for a person to attempt to quit using drugs on their own.

Quitting Drugs Alone

Without treatment, you put yourself at high risk of relapse and overdose.

  • Withdrawal from certain drugs can be very severe, sometimes even deadly. Alcohol can cause a type of withdrawal called delirium tremens, which is “a medical emergency” and requires hospitalization (National Library of Medicine). Benzodiazepines can cause withdrawal symptoms that may create a full-blown psychosis as well as seizures that are difficult to predict or prepare for. For this reason, it can be very unsafe to suddenly stop using drugs without treatment after having used them for a long time. Certain medications can help to treat these symptoms, ensuring your safety as well as your success during the detox period.
  • Some withdrawal syndromes are deadly but can be very uncomfortable. Cocaine, for example, causes intense symptoms including depression and fatigue, and opioids can cause immense physical pain when one stops abusing them. These symptoms can lead a person to relapse very quickly if they are not being treated for them with the proper methods. Relapse can be extremely dangerous, not only because it causes a person to start using again, but also because many individuals do not realize their tolerances have minimized, causing them to overdose.
  • Quitting on your own can also be very dangerous because of the inability to reflect properly on why you started using drugs in the first place. Without this type of self-reflection, you may not be able to recognize other issues that are only getting worse with your substance abuse, such as comorbid mental disorders, and these will continue unabated, possibly leading to relapse as well.

Quitting on one’s own and without the proper treatment necessary for a safe recovery can be extremely risky. If the withdrawal symptoms you experience do not severely impact your safety, your chances of relapse will still be much higher than if you sought treatment.

Will I Relapse If I Don’t Seek Treatment?

Addiction is a chronic relapsing disease, meaning that the individuals who struggle with it are likely to go back and forth during their lifetime between being safe and healthy and a return to dangerous drug abuse. Abusing any illicit or prescription substance that can become habit-forming will eventually compromise your ability to quit. This is why it is so important not to rely on just your own will in order to recover safely.

Rehab treatment helps to minimize one’s chances of relapse, according to the NIDA, and you will be much more likely to do so without treatment. It is important to remember that, once you become an addict, your will is not entirely your own anymore and that you should reach out for help. It is much more likely that you will struggle with relapse if you do not seek treatment.

Quit Safe; Quit Smart

It is much safer to seek treatment than to try to recover on your own. But asking your friends, family members, and other loved ones to help you can also be a very important part of a safe, effective recovery. Without the support of those you care about, the treatment itself won’t even be as effective, which is why it is so important to remember that you are not alone. With the help of professionals and your social support system, you can put an end to your drug abuse safely as well as work on making sure that you never relapse.

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