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Do I Have to Go Completely Cold Turkey?

It’s a common question among people seeking addiction treatment: if you use multiple substances and only one poses a problem to your quality of life, can you simply cut out that one and strike a healthy balance with the rest? Alternatively, you might want to know whether going cold turkey is the only way to overcome an addiction. What if you want to cut back on your substance intake and think you can get it to a reasonable level and keep it there?

The first thing you must accept is that you may have a hard time finding a professional treatment center or program that will agree to help you reduce your chemical dependency without eliminating it. However you choose to see it, the argument “I just need to use less, so if I can reduce my intake and keep using, I’ll be fine” is a big neon sign pointing towards “addiction” in the eyes of medical professionals.

The Argument From Self-Knowledge

If the prospect of getting comprehensive treatment for addiction makes you hesitate, ask yourself why. One commonly cited reason that people, men in particular, quote for wanting to take a moderate approach to recovery is that they don’t want to sacrifice their other priorities. Entering a treatment program can take up the majority of your time and attention, especially in its primary stages, leaving little room for your career, relationships, or personal goals. Treatment may threaten to derail your progress and interrupt your ambitions when you could just as easily work your way back towards health with a modicum of outside support.

Alternatively, you might think that using a certain substance in moderation improves your life. Perhaps it makes you think faster and accomplish more, strengthens your social bonds, helps you attain inner peace, or simply provides an outlet from the stresses of daily life. Whatever your reasons, the idea that you know yourself better than anyone may be allowing you to accept the need for only a moderate amount of improvement.

The Problem of Mental Bias

Here’s the problem: these ideas are built on your self-perception, and your self-perception is inherently flawed when it comes to your relationship with drugs and alcohol. Their use physically alters the brain. Between the chemical changes brought on by prolonged substance intake and the societal factors that influence you away from admitting a problem, your perception of your level of addiction has the potential to be seriously skewed.

If you’re considering getting help, this may not be the first time you’ve had that thought. The dawning realization that your substance use has become a problem can give rise to feelings of self-loathing or make you face the notion that you may not have the control over your life you thought you did. To avoid these unsettling epiphanies, our minds offer a compromise of sorts: admitting that you have a problem with substance use, but it’s a little problem, and it doesn’t require full-blown treatment because things haven’t gotten that bad yet and that you’re not a failure, and so on. 

The way society has stigmatized addiction and substance abuse problems can make it hard to admit that you’ve got a problem; you don’t want to be like “one of those people.” In truth, addiction isn’t a failure, and you aren’t less of a worthwhile member of the world for needing help. By the time you begin to realize you may need help with addiction, you’re likely late to the party. The mind and body work together to cover up the severity of these problems. The best thing you can do for yourself, present and future, is to reach out to reliable, professional help as soon as possible. 

Make an Informed Decision

Every person responds differently to the chemical, emotional, and societal influences that can affect one’s perception of their addiction. While it’s true that you may not require full treatment in the same circumstances that another would, it’s in your best interest to do your due diligence and establish with certainty the form of help you need. As long as you continue to prioritize your career, personal life, or self-image over your mental and physical health, your addiction won’t receive the frank, direct approach it takes to fundamentally move past the deep-rooted issues it will otherwise continue to spawn.

However, you plan on addressing your addiction, the power of professional guidance cannot be understated. Beyond their medical resources and ability to provide effective solutions for your problems, the reason people seek out addiction experts is that their experience allows them to see your symptoms and trajectory in a way that may not be obvious to you. Even if you don’t end up needing a full inpatient treatment program, basing that decision on legitimate insight is far more reliable than conducting a self-evaluation.

There are many paths to recovery. Understandably, you may think yours won’t require full-fledged treatment or a deep reassessment of your life. At Cornerstone Healing Center, we understand that a complete recovery relies on an internal transformation that may sound far-fetched or unnecessary on your own, especially if your substance abuse problems aren’t disrupting your life as much as they might affect other people. We’ve created a safe, powerful environment in Scottsdale, Arizona, to help you develop the inner clarity and purpose you’ll need to make the most of this transitional time in your life. Struggling with addiction can drain your energy and make you want to simply get it over with as quickly as possible; while this may seem tempting, the most effective way to attain long-term happiness and balance is to address your challenges at the root and rid your mind and body of addiction once and for all. Call (800) 643-2108 to learn more.

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