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Thinking of quitting drugs and/or alcohol?
Here are some tips.

If you get sick when you stop using, get professional help. You might be experiencing drug withdrawal.  For alcohol, benzodiazepines (like Alprazolam or Clonazepam), and barbiturates (like Phenobarbital), withdrawal symptoms include slight fever, sweats & chills, shakiness, anxiety, vomiting, and problems sleeping.  Rarely a person can develop hallucinations, confusion, seizures, or even die.  Withdrawal from opioids (like heroin, methadone, or Fentanyl) often causes slight fever, sweats & chills, stomachache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and a general lousy feeling.  Cocaine and amphetamine withdrawal is connected with severe depression, exhaustion, sleepiness, and suicidal ideation.  Most withdrawal states last anywhere from a few days to a week, depending on the half-life of the substance.  Sometimes hospitalization is necessary.

Never fly solo. It’s extremely hard to quit without treatment and support.  If you’re trying to stop using drugs or alcohol, reach out for help.  Reach out to someone you trust: a sponsor, mentor, teacher, minister, close friend or family member.  To find professional help, google local providers, ask your family doctor for recommendations, contact your health insurance company for referrals, call the addiction hotline at 800.662.HELP, or contact your local emergency room for a list of resources.

Recovery isn’t easy, especially in the beginning, but the longer a person stays sober and clean, the easier it gets. Until then, take life one day at a time, and keep reminding yourself it gets better.  The future is worth it.

Take care of all needs, not just drug cessation. Which of the following promote recovery?  Choose the right answer: (a) housing and transportation, (b) income, (c) access medical care, (d) legal services, (e) friendship and support, (f) a pet.  The answer probably (g), “all of the above.”  (There is another option submitted by the American Association of Happy Pets, option (h): “We encourage the freshly recovered novice to avoid adopting Great Danes, pythons longer than 6 feet, emus, or African Gray Parrots — until Step 7.  This is not stated in standard 12-step literature but should be.”

Be patient with your brain. It needs time to heal.  Emotions, thoughts, concentration, memory, ability to enjoy stuff, even identity may be off-kilter for a while.  This isn’t the “real” you.  This is your brain healing.  In the meantime, be kind to yourself.  Use this book to get you through it all.

For problems with concentration and memory, do one thing at a time, break tasks down into small steps, keep a calendar & write everything down, and practice puzzles and brainteasers to exercise the mind.   Make sure to take frequent breaks to recap.

If you’re feeling angry, nervous, or overwhelmed, turn to Weird and Wacky Part 2, “How to feel better NOW (and later).”  Choose any page and get busy.  The feelings usually back off on their own after a couple of hours.  (Unfortunately this approach won’t work until you have the book in hand)

Wrap-around services, all you can get. You’re up against addiction.  That isn’t an easy fight, and often it isn’t a fair one either.  If you’re serious about quitting, you need to use every treatment at your disposal.

Relapse isn’t the end of the world. Relapse: we don’t encourage it, we beg you to avoid it, but if it happens (1) stop as soon as you can, (2) get help if you experience withdrawal symptoms, then (3) go on over to Appendix B, “How to deal with relapse.”  (Again, this approach won’t work until you have the book in hand!)