The path to a sober life without alcohol can be long and complex. Detox is the very beginning of that journey. Any treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) that takes place after detox will vary depending on each person’s needs. There are, however, some common steps everyone should take after they have completed an alcohol detox program.
Detox, The First Stage of Recovery
When someone recognizes that they have a problem with alcohol, their next step should be to safely detox. Detox is best done under the care of trained health care professionals. This is because individuals may experience a range of withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. These can range from mild, such as anxiety, sweating, and insomnia, to severe, such as hallucinations, high blood pressure, and seizures. Medical professionals can help manage withdrawal symptoms to avoid life-threatening issues.
Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal
Heavy drinking for weeks, months, or years creates physical and mental challenges. But stopping drinking suddenly can also result in various side effects, some potentially harmful. Because alcohol is a depressant, it slows down the brain’s function. Over time, the brain and the nervous system adapt to this by working harder to keep your brain active and your nerves communicating.
When alcohol levels in the body drop suddenly, the nervous system continues to operate in this elevated state for some time. This is known as withdrawal. Detox helps guide individuals through withdrawal and prepare them for further treatment.
Treatment After Alcohol Detox
The next stage of treatment for AUD involves follow-up care to learn to live alcohol-free. This care can include professional addiction treatment that may incorporate behavior change techniques, counseling, and even time spent at a treatment center. Part of this stage may also include medications to stop alcohol cravings or block the positive feelings that alcohol can create.
Finally, ongoing sobriety requires continued support, which can take the form of aftercare groups, regular counseling, support groups, and caring friends and family who can help in managing any relapses and making and maintaining lifestyle changes.
From Alcohol Detox to Rehab
A rehabilitation treatment program, whether inpatient or outpatient, can help individuals learn to identify their personal alcohol triggers and how to manage them. This knowledge helps prevent or limit relapse. While it is not required that someone with an alcohol addiction enter a rehab program after detox, such programs are highly effective at helping individuals maintain their sobriety.
Addiction treatment offers many benefits, including helping participants with:
- Identifying and addressing any co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or PTSD
- Developing healthy ways of managing stress
- Learning effective methods to cope with triggers and preventing relapse
- Improving health and wellness
- Providing job counseling and employment opportunities
- Building a supportive group of recovery-oriented peers
- Improving relationships with friends, family, and loved ones
The Value of Behavioral Therapy
After alcohol detox, a key component of sober life is learning how to break the habits that lead to AUD. The most effective way to do this is through psychological treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. This type of therapy works to change a person’s thinking and behavior by helping individuals:
- Learn to recognize distorted thinking that has caused problems and then reevaluate those thoughts in light of reality
- Understand how others behave and what motivates them
- Use problem-solving skills to cope with difficult situations
- Develop an increased level of confidence in their abilities
- Face their fears instead of avoiding them
- Use role playing to prepare for potentially problematic interactions with others
- Learn to calm their mind and relax their body
Developing an Alcohol-Free Life
The end goal for anyone with AUD is to emerge from detox and treatment with the tools they need to maintain a life free of drinking. This can mean developing healthier habits, such as eating well, exercising regularly, and sleeping better. It may also include exploring new ways of managing stress, such as meditation or yoga. Someone in recovery may pursue other lifestyle changes in their search for sobriety, like finding new hobbies.
Living a life without alcohol may require changes to old, harmful habits. Individuals should avoid certain places or people if they are triggers for their drinking. Finally, many people will benefit from ongoing support through counseling or peer support groups to maintain their sobriety.
Alcohol treatment after detox may look different for each person. But it is possible to achieve a life without addiction. Detox and alcohol addiction treatment can help.
Building on a belief that spiritual development and healthy recovery can bring inner peace to clients overcoming addiction and substance abuse, Into Action Recovery Centers takes a people-centered approach to addiction treatment. Our detox center is conveniently located in Houston, Texas, and our treatment programs are led by experienced master’s level counselors and medical professionals who specialize in personalized treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.