Less Common Alternatives to Traditional Detox and Rehabs


Most addiction treatment programs are based on years of research and include techniques that have proven to help many people recover. However, these traditional programs aren’t for everyone.

If you’re experiencing the early signs of dependence, you may not feel like a full-time detox or rehab program is right for you. Or if you’ve exhausted all your options and cannot find funding for a state-sponsored rehab, you may need an alternative. Or maybe you simply want to explore your options.

As with anything, it’s best to review all your options before you make a decision.

Going “cold turkey”

Going cold turkey means that you stop abusing substances without any assistance. You wake up one day, decide to stop and simply stop. This is so much easier said than done.

When you stop using your substance of choice, you’ll experience physical and mental symptoms and cravings that can be difficult to manage on your own. Everyone has a different experience, but generally speaking, the longer you’ve been dependent on drugs or alcohol, the more intense the withdrawal process may be.

The cold turkey detox is associated with a very high rate of relapse, but that’s not the worst of it. When detox symptoms are severe, they can be very dangerous. Alcohol, for example, comes with a risk of sudden death during detox if the symptoms aren’t managed properly.

If you have a serious addiction, consider some form of supervised care during the physical withdrawal period (which can last a few days to a little over a week).

Community Addiction Group Treatments

You’ve probably heard of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Well, there are programs just like this for other types of addiction too. There are many benefits to these 12-step programs, including mentoring, peer support and group therapy sessions.

There are also drawbacks to using these programs as your sole treatment during recovery. These groups are usually run by others who have had success in recovery. They aren’t run by professional counselors.

It’s tempting to rely on these programs alone when you’re going through recovery, but the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends combining a 12-step or similar program with a more comprehensive treatment program like in-patient or outpatient rehabilitation.

Rapid Detox

This may sound like a quick-fix treatment, but unfortunately, there is no such thing.

Rapid Detox is sometimes also called the Weissman Method, after one of the doctors who developed the protocol. Patients in Rapid Detox are put under general anesthesia while doctors force the body to detox with drugs like naloxone and naltrexone. Since the patient is under anesthesia, they don’t feel the pain or discomfort of detox. They’re also given muscle relaxers to help with any lingering symptoms after the anesthesia wears off.

The entire process can take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours and may cost between $10,000 and $20,000. This isn’t an option for someone who is short on cash.

Rapid detox may get you safely through the physical withdrawal process, but that’s all it does. You’ll still experience cravings and post-acute withdrawal syndrome. These are both issues that should be addressed with the help of a professional or with group counseling.

Adopting a therapy pet

The simple act of petting a dog can help raise levels of dopamine, which is the same neurotransmitter involved in addiction. A support pet can also reduce the stress hormone cortisol and increase the body’s natural painkilling mechanism (endorphins).

Adopting any dog will have benefits, but you may ensure better results by sending your pet to a service animal training program.

Outpatient rehabilitation programs

If the thought of spending 30+ days away from home and work is what’s putting you off from traditional rehabs, you may want to consider an outpatient program. Here, you’ll still have access to professional therapists and can continue your normal routine throughout the process.

If you’re struggling with addiction, the important part is that you seek help. If you try a less-common alternative to rehab without success, don’t let it put you off to recovery. Sometimes, you have to try more than one thing to find the right solution for you.

Bio: Tim Stoddart is the co-founder and current president of Sober Nation. Tim is a big believer in the power of thought, positive living, health, and kindness. A recovering addict and admitted adrenaline junky, Tim has found new and healthier ways to fill the void. He gives credit for his “spiritual awakening” to his loving family and reading thought-provoking books.

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