The Best Way to Quit Using Drugs

Saturday, March 9 2013 Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

The best way to quit using drugs and alcohol is up for debate. Is there a best way to quit using drugs? What is the best way to quit drugs for good? Read this.

If I were to take a poll of 100 recovering addicts and ask them what method they used to get clean I would likely get a number of responses. And that’s the point. The best way to quit using drugs is determined by the addict. What works for one individual may not work for another. The method you take to quit using drugs is best decided by you.

In the past, I’ve received some criticism about my promotion of 12-Step programs in this blog. I do not apologize for my beliefs about the Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous (or any of the other 12-Step programs, for that matter). I have seen these programs literally turn people’s lives around. Some people, however, are unable to get with the Higher Power concept found in AA and NA.

Quit Using Drugs by Choosing a Path

But am I naïve enough to think that the 12-Step model is the only way to go? Of course not. There are many paths to the same destination. One thing I do know is that for most individuals stopping drug use is hard to do by oneself. At some point, the addict is going to need help. The idea of “cold turkey” just doesn’t cut it.

So what do you do if you want to stop using drugs but don’t want to go the 12-Step route? Here are a few treatment models to consider:

  • Formal Counseling – Whether it is inpatient or outpatient counseling, this method can begin to open the door to the possibility of a drug-free life. The availability of resources may vary depending on where you live. Some therapists use methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help individuals with the recovery process.
  • SMART Recovery – Based on a 4-Point Program offers specific tools and techniques for each of the program points:

Point 1: Building and Maintaining Motivation

Point 2: Coping with Urges

Point 3: Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors

Point 4: Living a Balanced Life

More often than not, individuals who decide to quit using drugs found themselves hitting bottom and came to realize that either he stops using or he ends up facing devastating consequences.

Hope is Essential to Quit Using Drugs

An added element in the early recovery process that is crucial is hope. When a person is able to have even a small glimmer of hope that recovery is possible positive things can happen.

So, in reality, there is no one "best way” to quit using drugs. The main thing is to keep an open mind and never give up hope. Of course, there are many other things a person can do to help themselves stop using drugs but having the support of others can make the process just that much more manageable.

Author: Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

View all posts by Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC.

The Best Way to Quit Using Drugs

Eliza Player
says:
March, 13 2013 at 4:26 am

I see you made no mention of either Suboxone or methadone. Statistics show that these treatments are much more successful than abstinence-based treatments. Statistics show that 90% of all opiate addicts relapse within the first year of beginning and abstinence-based treatment program, while 60% of methadone patients who detox completely off the drug after at least 2 years of treatment will remain opiate free for at least 5 years. And Suboxone is thought to have even higher success rates, although it is so new that the data is not really there, like with methadone. Furthermore, a number of opiate addicted patients overdose when they relapse after a period of abstinence, often brought on with treatment. Hazelden noticed a dramatic number of deaths from overdose in their opiate addicted patients after leaving treatment, which led them to adding Suboxone to their treatment list.

I just really feel that in discussing alternatives to 12-step programs, mentioning some more evidence-based practices, including Suboxone, methadone, and even things like Vivitrol, is really the only unbiased way to cover this topic. These treatments are working, in many cases better than the three you mentioned here, and I think that are are also worth mentioning in this argument, at least in my opinion. While some may not agree with these treatments, claiming that patients are not 'clean' while on them, but they are most certainly in recovery, and their lives are inevitably being saved and improved. To fail to include these treatments as viable alternatives to 12-step programs is incredibly biased, if you ask me.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 13 2013 at 1:33 pm

Great point Eliza. As you stated, there are arguments both for and against Suboxone and methadone. There are, however instances of individuals who remain on thses treatments for a prolonged period of time. I guess, in my post, I was looking at the issue from a purely abstinence-based perspective. Thanks for your comments.

Robert
says:
March, 16 2013 at 9:54 am

Methadone for detox "ONLY" take it from a 35plus year "Dope Fiend-Heroin Hype"Methadone is by far worse to kick then the smack.When your ready and I mean READY then just lock down and kick,I really don't care what dude thinks about Cold Turkey,just another one who has probally never stepped or walked in these shoes.3-5 days of HELL,1-2 weeks of flu like symptoms,it's done! Now don't get me wrong your just getting started,now the time has come to deal with the Biggest Problem and it's located "Between Your Ears".People like us are and have been coddled for way too long,with so many enablers & the politically correct,you have a disease,& bleeding heart liberals/counselors no wonder the bullshit rates of sucess are so low.Take Responsibility for what you created,nurished,& loved for so long.Treatment today with "Dome" 90% of the time ends at death or at best several-several years.I've been on clinics from New Orleans,Memphis,LasVegas,SaltLakeCity,Ogden,Pensacloa,do i really need 2 continue,because there is no difference in ANY of them..ClinicOwners depend on maintanance cuz 98% of them have become Legal Dealers,in maint.all you have done is swap one addiction for another,and more often then not you'll throw in some benzos & alcohol(deadly combo only to highten dangers "TheJuice")Oh,but we Piss Test,Yeah Right,your dealing with junkies & we will beat your test all to hell and back.Still think Dome is the way 2 go? Then consider this for the next 6,8,12....months you feel like crap,so much like crap,backsliding is just arriving at your door.Listen,I know how hard & cold this sounds,Good,think back on all those relationships you threw in the cooker & shot right up your arm.You created this monster now you have to Kill it & Kill that muttha quick.He will return many times with many different faces & he won't be alone,he will arrive with 10 of his best little demons because they love to screw up a clean house.Remember these are familiar spirits,they know you all too well,they know your bottons,weakness,and obsessions,they will return,the better you are prepared the better shot you have at overcomming & stomping those nasty lil demons who you loved so deeply at one,two,fifty times.Pump-up your chest,beg 4 forgivness from family & friends,because you have a tough road ahead your gonna need these folks in so many ways so that you can gain the Victory.Just-a-Thought.

Karen
says:
March, 17 2013 at 2:08 am

In life we all have our own individual unique journey to travel. It's with hope and the support of others that help us get there.

eliza
says:
April, 11 2015 at 3:24 am

for me its very sad to know that one of your family is using. i dont even know how to stop them ,and make them realize how sad we feel for them .I REALY HOPE THEARS A SIMPLE WAY TO STOP THEM AND DRUGS WILL NEVER BE SEE IN THE WORLD

jeff
says:
May, 6 2015 at 7:52 pm

Anyone who uses another drug to get off one is kidding themselves period. You get high off sobuxone and methadone. Stop lying to others. People who get on that crap and they continue to be hooked on a substance. I wish he drug life never existed. That whole ugly scene stinks. And drug dealers are pure scum. And the cops who let some people sell drugs because they are helping them out are just as bad. If you allow dealers to sell drugs people die. That's the real problem. Long long sentences with manual labor will kill those [moderated] dealers.

Stephanie
says:
June, 4 2015 at 3:06 pm

As the wife of an ER Doctor, I used to feel so sorry for people suffering in pain, myself being one of them. Their habits are undeniably easy to spot. I would NEVER change Doctors, exaggerate my disease, make useless trips to the ER, try to influence people I don't even know for their script. If I ran out, I never do, but if I did, I would suffer through it, use meditation, exercise, steam rooms, and sweat it out. I always carry a thumb drive with my medical records so my life could be saved by first responders. I also always give myself a break from the meds, a week, a month whatever. The reality is if you don't they won't work for you anymore for your pain, and then you will be forced to take more and more. Who wants that?

Addicts will manipulate, change drugs, seek multiple Doctors, use street drugs, and most importantly become VERY ANGRY over not getting what they want. They will tell sob stories, and do anything besides show strength.
I feel bad for people like me that have life altering diseases, and many times need these medications to live healthy, productive lives! Or we would become a huge problem to our society and have to live off our government on disability. How humiliating, a hard days work is so good for you! The difference is our bodies may become addicted, but rarely do our minds. Just watch how we behave if we don't get what we want or need. The behavior is very different.

That is the difference. We live our own 12 step program and simply pay it forward!

Norberto Tjon Ajong
says:
August, 28 2015 at 8:04 pm

There is none. If Dr Silkood would be alive today he certainly again conquer that for the Type 1 Chemical Dependent there is no cure or much hope. Only a spiritual experience can bring in rare cases some success. Addiction in all shapes and form is as any other disease primary chronic and fatal.

blake
says:
October, 4 2015 at 4:18 pm

i have been sober for just under 4 years, i was on a suboxone maintence program, i tapered as directed by my doctor. i also learned things about my self serving, egotistical ,insecure, inner conflicted, self using the twelve steps of recovery as a guidline for living. i was very judgemental and evenoutspoken about the steps prior to actually learning about them. the spiritual principles , a manifestation of the steps, of getting out of your self and serving a brother or sister new to recovery, is never a bad thing. to get caught up on the higher power concept, is to miss the message. go from selfish to selfless. try the steps, there ever evolving , and always improving you if you let them. one year off suboxone, and almost 4 years off heroin. thank you godn and modern medicine.

christian eguidazu
says:
January, 7 2016 at 8:24 am

Ayahuasca: the magical brew of amazonian plants

Ayahuasca; also called "rope of the soul" or "vine of the spirit" is the name given to banisteriopsis caapi vine and chacruna plant brewed from immemorial time by the indigenous people of the amazonian basin (more often by shamaans - the spiritual leaders of the tribes)

The Ayahuasca brew wich has powerful consciousness expanding properties, has strong antihelmintic effects (kills parasites) and purificates the body.

The principal active ingredient in the brew is DMT (N,N-dimetiltriptamin).
DMT can be found in all living things in the planet, including plants & mammals. DMT is produced in smaller quantities by the brain, its responsible for our dreams when we sleep.

The reason im putting this article up is because i want to point out the inmense benefits ayahuasca has brought to my life - and what it could do to yours!

I have been drinking the brew regularly for over 2 years with amazing results. It was a life changing event. In my case i had a terrible problem with addictions to various drugs (heroin xanax crack & alcohol) for over ten years in spite of being in various rehab institutions, psiquiatric institutions for forced rehabilitation, religious centers, nothing seemed to help. i realy saw myself as a lost case along with my wife.

Ours lifes changed from stealing, begging and living in the streets to both completely rehabilitated, working with an active healthy lifestyle.
Nobody that knew us would ever believed this to be possible. Our selfesteem wich used to be rock bottom has radicly changed with a new perspective of life.

My wife and i are part of a ayahuasca drinking society in the city where all kinds of people come to the events. By this i mean Its not just for addiction problems its used, Ayahuasca helps for all type of personal problems youre going through, big or small.

Id be happy to answer any questions you may have

christianeguidazu@gmail.com

hope i could be at help!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kira Lesley
says:
January, 10 2016 at 2:55 pm

Interesting Christian, thanks for your post. I have heard about ayahuasca but don't know nearly enough about it to have much of an opinion. Though for myself personally I don't think it's the right choice, perhaps it can help others.

ronnie
says:
March, 31 2016 at 4:22 am

drugs are not worse than people think

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kira Lesley
says:
March, 31 2016 at 12:21 pm

Thanks for your comment Ronnie, although I'm not sure I entirely understand what you mean.

Jeff
says:
May, 9 2016 at 10:02 pm

Robert pretty much hit the nail right on the head. You have to separate, no matter what it takes. Find another passion to take its place. Don't forget what god has delivered you from in the past. Support system is needed though."for some." This world is so infected man!!! Its fucking hard!!! There is a war in my head every single day, and the universe will test your ass every chance it can. I still have a problem overcoming my problem. Which is damn near everything except sticking a needle in me.I'm saying most of this in theory not in practice, or I would most likely not be on this site. Disassociatives, weed, and ice started when I was 13, and opana, coke.... Blah blah blah ..... Etc etc...I'm 26. I'm surrounded by this culture. But I feel like I can conquer my problems. Through cancelling out certain ppl even though I love them. Only live once. If its not making you truly happy. Overcome. Do what the fuck you have to do to win. Do you want to win or do you want to loose. That the question I'm going to start asking myself every day when I wake up. Psychedelics are not for every one, but I feel that some of the natural ones can definitely open your eyes to picture you should've seen all along. Whatever your belief system is. .... Peace love and happiness

esther
says:
March, 24 2017 at 4:52 pm

the effects of drugs on our youths are getting ou of hand, as a single mother with two kids, struggling for daily bread, my hope on larry my son,who happened to be an addict to drugs was elapsing.He's been an addict for 10 years, which has caused him a lot of troubles,he gets to move with bad peers,steal from me and sometimes from other people to get drugs.he gets into fight and misbehave whenever he's done taking them .he's been arrested several times and rehabilitated twice .this got me worried and scared.Now he's doing fine after some couple of days of contact with diviner chindu,who helped pray for him and got him free from addiction .i got to contact him after i saw a testimony of a woman on a blog who also faced similar issue with her husband. am so happy and greatful. i'd urge anyone who's lost hope already not to,but to contact him via his email adress: newgracefoundation@gmail.com

Steele Honda
says:
November, 12 2017 at 11:33 pm

I really liked that you said that there are lots of different approaches and solutions to stop using drugs, and all of them are highly individual. I saw my brother yesterday using drugs, and I got scared for his life and our family. But then I realized that there are a lot of people who won this battle, and I hope that one day my brother will with some professional help!

Luis
says:
December, 15 2017 at 10:37 pm

I have used drugs for 17 years I lost everything I personally don't think I have hit rock bottom but I'm about to if I don't quit now AA classes do work I've been to then but I can't keep clean because I need my wife and children I am 100 % sure that if my wife and me go back in done using we were married for 14 years in my personal situation that's what's killing me not being with her because every addict needs help from someone that's the first step admit that were additcs and then you have to find the way that best helps you I know what I need to succeed to bad she don't want to come back I have to find another way but with her beside me it would be a lot easier for all those out there yes we can there's nothing impossible in this world try AA classes

My name is Mrs. Rogers
says:
December, 20 2017 at 11:49 am

My grandson needs help to quit drugs. He can not handle it by himself.

Ivy Baker
says:
January, 10 2018 at 5:58 pm

I liked that you pointed out that a good thing to know about stopping using drugs. My cousin is having a hard time with meth. It is good to know that he should try to get counseling. It does seem like a good thing for him to at least try.

Leviticus Bennett
says:
March, 14 2018 at 6:48 pm

I like your suggestion to use hope for quitting an addiction. Getting help is probably important to focus on your goal of achieving health. My sister is generally a good person but she is dealing with an addiction. I want to find a clinic that will work hard to get her on the right track.

Amanda Drew
says:
May, 8 2018 at 2:37 pm

I like how you point out that formal counseling can help you live a drug-free life and the resources available to you depend on where you live. My friend recently told me that he got addicted to drugs and now wants to get off of them. I really want to help him, and your article is a great start. I'll just have to help him find a drug addiction counselor he can start to go to.

tony D.
says:
June, 4 2018 at 1:40 am

You all don't even realize what the underlying problem with most of the comments and conventional wisdom on this topic is. Almost uniformly, everyone seems to know someone who they believe needs help..... If the addict doesn't acknowledge and know and admit they need help, forget about it. It sounds harsh, it sounds cold, but it is the reality of addiction and don't for one second think you can reason with someone and "Make Them See" or "Show Them the Light", if an addict hasn't hit rock bottom, nothing you say or do will make one iota of a difference, period, full stop. Sure, you love someone who is an addict, you yearn for them to get better, you believe against all odds that somehow, some way, there exists some program, some treatment, some panacea of sorts that will solve the problem. Unfortunately, nope!, Not going to happen, not in this lifetime and not in any one else's.

The one constant with all addictions, whether alcohol, heroin, meth, whatever....... is the addicts have this overriding contempt for anyone who preaches to them, who is not an addict, user of former addict! I have such a passionate, vehement and almost violent disagreement with any one or program that pushes understanding and appreciation for this concept that I can not verbalize it or put it in writing. This IS NOT A DISEASE. That is like saying sex addicts have a disease! Lets define disease for the purposes of this discussion shall we? Disease: a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.

Is hoarding a disease? Of course not. Addicts have failed, failed themselves, failed their loved ones, failed at life. To coddle them is akin to coddling a criminal, because they are addicted to stealing. Absolute rubbish. This is creating a culture in which they feel sorry for themselves, criticize anyone who's not one of them and tell the rest of us that we don't understand or get it! I call B???Hi///t.......... One need not have been a heroin addict to know that it is bad, bad for the user, bad for their families and bad for society at large. If we make it necessary for a heroin addict to hear this only from another H addict then we as society have failed. You don't need a former bank robber to tell current and potential bank robbers not to do it. We simply say, do it and go to jail or get shot by police in the process.

Heroin addicts and other elicit drug addicts, take note. You are a small percentage of society, so small in fact that if all of you disappeared tomorrow, the world at large would never notice. You destroyed families, relationships, businesses, and everything else in between. You idolize kurt cobain? loser heroin addict who was a coward and took his own life.! then follow in his footsteps. If you have no interest in quitting, then you have no redeemable qualities and if you don't have those, then kurt is waiting for you somewhere at the gates of hell and you should hasten your trip and not keep him waiting.

I know how cold some of you will think this is, but enough is enough! Stop for Christ's sake, for your children's sake, for your own sake, and if none of those things motivate you, then by all means, carry on, until you are carried out. world continues to rotate, life goes on, and you become a story someone tells about an addict who was really a good person, who was loved by many, but at the end of the day, someone who died of a drug addiction. Stop the F.....ng drugs, or stop occupying space and being a useless member of our society.

Hector Uba
says:
June, 11 2018 at 6:20 pm

Thank you for the information on the best ways to quit drugs; it was very helpful. I agree that having hope and a positive attitude is one of the most important things when it comes to quitting something. In my opinion, there has to be a desire there for the person to quit, if that isn't there then it won't happen.

Vanessa Blair
says:
June, 12 2018 at 11:51 pm

My cousin wants to live a sober life and have a decent job again. It was explained here that he can choose the kind of treatment that he wants for drug abuse. Moreover, it's highly recommended to go to professionals when thinking of drug abuse treatment.

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