Can You Cure Yourself of a Drug Addiction

Walking on the beach

Self help is defined as the act of helping or improving without relying on the assistance of others [6]. This can mean joining a fellowship of others who struggle with similar issues, who support and rely on each other for recovery. This includes a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Cocaine Anonymous (CA), and others that are based on 12 step and Smart Recovery models [5].

Factors that Support Long-Term Recovery

Individuals who are successful at recovering from an addiction, whether or informal or formal treatments, typically tend to focus on success during the process, rather than focus on setbacks. Individuals in recovery keep in mind that all steps count, no matter how small and take ownership of their own recovery plan.

Individuals who are recovering learn and practice life skills that improve self confidence and learn skills that help them emotionally regulate during triggering situations. Individuals who recovery tend to build a positive supportive system [2].

Sitting in the sandFor many struggling with addiction, it is most difficult to decide to change. Many feel nervous, or struggle with low self confidence when starting their recovery process. Committing to sobriety means learning to manage events and situations that can trigger relapses. This can include the way individuals deal with stress, health versus unhealthy supports, an individual’s personal self confidence and self esteem, and how self care is managed [3].

Preparing for recovery in an informal process requires for the person to first remind themselves of the reasons they want to change. Writing down the reasons why a person wants to quit using substances. It can help the person identify and recognize how an addiction has affected the body, life, work, and family. It can also help confirm a solid purpose for recovery [3, 1].

Making Changes For the Better

Secondly, thinking about past attempts at recovery and why and why not it worked. Setting specific, measurable goals can be helpful during the withdrawal and recovery process. Removing reminders of past addiction can also be useful tool to reduce the triggers.

Lastly, contacting friends and family to build a support team. It can be helpful to include a solid support system and have individuals to lean on when in need of encouragement, guidance, support, and outpatient therapy as needed. Building a sober social network can be instrumental in making new, positive individuals and those who support your recovery.

Building a support system can help individuals find new activities and interests such as learn a new activity, adopt a pet, get involved with a local community, and set meaningful goals [4]. Individuals who are wanting to recovery from an addiction on own could consider moving into a sober home which can provide a safe, supportive place while in the recovery processes.

Learning how to manage stress, painful emotions and/or events could be an underlying reason for an addiction, and being able to learn healthy, positive skills can be a useful to learn triggers and responses to them. Stress reducing tools can include exercise, such as walking, yoga, swimming, and meditation [3, 4, 1].

Understanding the Recovery Process from Addiction

Even though there are pros and cons to both informal and formal treatments it is valuable to discuss both options. Formal treatments are those that are offered and delivered by trained professions.

These professionals are individuals who have been trained to offer a treatment program and use evidence based treatments to help addicts recover from addictions [6]. Formal treatments include, addiction therapy, inpatient and outpatient work, motivational interviewing, counseling and psychotherapy, monitored detox, psychiatry, and psychiatric nursing.

Informal treatment can be difficult because many individuals combine both information and formal treatment in recovery. In 2006, the Cochrane Systematic Review found that there were no studies that unequivocally demonstrate the effectiveness of AA and in an internal study of AA, it claimed that 26% of people who attended an initial meeting, still attended one year later.

33% members reported attending meetings continuously and were sober for 10 years [6]. Research does show however, that those who combine both informal and formal treatment are twice as likely to establish themselves in sobriety [6]. Even with minimal research there are no firm conclusions on the effectiveness of their treatment approach.

Relapse can occur for various reasons, which include, negative emotional states such as anger, sadness, trauma or stress; physical discomfort, especially during the withdrawal process or physical pain; positive emotional states of wanting to feel better; urges to use; and tension or conflict with family and/or friends.

Standing by the oceanRelapses do not mean failure but it is a moment to learn new skills and triggers for continued recovery. Reaching out to treatment team for a session, or attending a recovery meeting can be significantly helpful in assessing the setback [3].

Recovery can be accomplished but choosing whether or not to use formal or informal treatment can be an important decision. It is important to consider which would work for each specific person, and that the individual needs to be fully invested in the process for either to work. Individuals who have a serious addiction can benefit and are highly encouraged to seek professional help, rather than attempt recovery alone.

Community Discussion – Share Your Thoughts Here!

When recovering from an addiction would you choose an informal or formal treatment approach?

Image of Libby Lyons and familyAbout the Author: Libby Lyons, MSW, LCSW, CEDS, is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS) who works with individuals and families in the area of eating disorders. Mrs. Lyons works in the metropolitan St. Louis area and has been practicing in the field for 11 years. Libby is also trained in Family Based Therapy (FBT) to work with children-young adults to treat eating disorders. Mrs. Lyons has prior experience working with the United States Air Force, Saint Louis University, Operating Officer of a Private Practice, and currently works with both Saint Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute within their Eating Disorders Program and Fontbonne University



The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 26, 2016
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About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.