How to beat addiction without rehab

The Hader Clinic
The Hader Clinic
April 29, 2024
minute read

There are countless reasons why someone struggling with addiction might not want to enter an inpatient rehab program. Affordability tends to be a key barrier, as is cultural stigma or even a person’s own past experiences in rehab.

Whatever your reason, all we want is for you to find a path towards safety and sobriety that works for you. If entering a facility doesn’t work for you, then how do you get sober without going to rehab? That’s the question we’re going to tackle here.

You may be an addict yourself, or you may have a loved one looking to quit drugs or alcohol addiction without going to rehab. What we have to say can help you start that process.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • Can an addict recover without rehab?
  • First-step strategies for quitting drugs and alcohol without rehab
  • Addiction recovery strategies without rehab
  • Advice for non-rehab alcohol and drug addiction treatment
  • The risks of getting off drugs and alcohol without rehab
  • Final thoughts

Even if inpatient rehab isn’t for you, we strongly recommend that you consider our 14 or 28-Day Detox And Withdrawal program. You don’t have to stay on, but we can still give you a safe, medically supervised environment to get the drugs and alcohol out of your system.

Can an addict recover without rehab?

It is possible. But the odds of achieving long-term sobriety without professional addiction treatment services are stacked against you.

The honest answer is, ‘it depends’. Your success depends on:

  • The substances you’re addicted
  • The severity of your addiction
  • The strategy you choose
  • The community of support you have

You’ll need to consider all of these factors. Here’s how.

At sunset, multiple generations of a family gather at a backyard table to enjoy dinner together.

First-step strategies to quitting drugs and alcohol without rehab

The steps we’ve listed below are exactly what we cover with our inpatient clients. 

Find a sober community

You may have heard the term ‘sober companion’ before. That role describes a person (usually one with direct experience with substance use disorders) who can act as a guide or shoulder to lean on for recovering addicts. It’s their job to help the addict stay on the path to sobriety. 

It’s impossible to achieve long-term sobriety on your own. The larger your sober community, the better your chances of achieving sobriety.

You’ll need to create a group of family and friends that you can seek guidance from. It is critical that these people are sober themselves.

Seek medical guidance

We urge you to speak to a medical professional, like your GP. They’ll be able to give you specific guidance, advice and resources. They can also speak to the risks you might face and how to handle them.

Track your alcohol and drug use

You need to begin keeping an accurate record of your drinking and drug taking. You’ll need to rely on your sober community to keep you honest and do this accurately.

Taking the full measure of your substance abuse can be quite confronting. It’s natural to feel upset, overwhelmed, ashamed… Give yourself space and time to do this step slowly.

Tracking your substance abuse isn’t just for you; medical professionals will need this data to decide what, if any, prescription drugs or medical treatment you may need.

List your purpose

You’ve got a lifelong road ahead of you. Take the time to list out why you want to get sober and how continuing your addiction could affect your life.

‘Being drug-free’ is a good start, but try to be specific. Think about the people you love and who love you. Consider the possibilities of the life you actually want to live, even if simple goals seem out of reach. 

Take your time writing your lists. Try to do some writing on your own, and then do some writing with your sober community so that you can see just how much you mean to them.

Save these lists. Write them out or print them and stick them up somewhere you’ll always be able to see them. Remembering why you’re on this path will help you when the alcohol and drug cravings rear up.

List your barriers to sobriety

There are likely some obvious barriers that’ll immediately pop into your mind. There are certain places and people that you need to cut out of your life if you’re going to take your sobriety seriously. 

Naturally, you’ll also have to get rid of any addictive substances within your reach. Get your sober community involved. Sometimes, the temptation to keep just a little bottle or baggie closeby to tide you over is too strong — you’ll need your loved ones to make sure your home is totally clean.

Set short-term goals

Don’t worry about long-term goals. Focus on the short term; you’re better off creating a small list of easily achievable wins with a few challenges.

For example:

  • Stay clean for three days
  • Stay clean for a week
  • Research severe withdrawal symptoms
  • Research addiction treatment process
  • Visit the family this weekend
  • Start a sobriety journal and write one entry

Start small, because the real win is the feeling of setting a goal and meeting it.

A young woman relaxing while painting an art canvas outdoors in her garden.

Addiction recovery strategies without rehab

Once you’ve taken your first steps, start looking into making bigger lifestyle changes to get clean and stay clean.


Detoxing isn’t always as simple as quitting cold turkey. In fact, if you quit without a proper strategy, it can kill you or cause lasting physical, neurological and mental damage. 

Our advice is to get into our month-long Melbourne detox program. Our medical team will care for your physical and mental well-being and help you wean off your substances safely. 

If you’re detoxing at home, consult your GP for advice and let them know what you intend to do. They may be able to offer monitoring and emergency assistance if you need it.

Attend a support group

Clients at our inpatient facility regularly attend group therapies, where we share our successes and struggles and build new sober connections. These sessions are invaluable, and you can find similar groups on the outside. We recommend:

Get in touch with them and find your nearest meeting. Attend it, even if only to listen. Let your local leader know that you’re taking the first steps on your sobriety journey, and they will help you find a sober companion who’s walked the same path you have.

Begin therapy
Addiction is rarely the lone issue in an addict's life. Your drug abuse may spring from, or have given rise to, several types of physical, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual issues. 

Therapy can help you address these issues and get to the root of your addictive tendencies. You’ll find therapy is a critical step in your recovery process.

Carefully consider getting medication

Depending on the specifics of your addiction, there are medications that can help you wean off more harmful substances. At our clinic, we sometimes use pain relief medication to help patients manage their withdrawal symptoms.

Medication should only be used under strict medical supervision. Without guidance, you risk starting a new addiction to prescription pills.

Develop your life outside of your addiction

As we said, sobriety is a lifelong process, but sobriety should be the foundation of your life — not the centre of it. 

By developing yourself as a person, you’ll renew your zest for life and learn to find joy all around you. It may sound a bit naff now, but your joy is your strongest guard against relapse.

Simple steps you could take include:

  • Volunteering locally, maybe at a vege garden
  • Join a hobby group, like a book club, Dungeons & Dragons party, or crafts club
  • Spend time in nature by going on walks or hikes
  • Exercise
  • Spend more time with family and friends

Advice for alcohol and drug addiction treatment without rehab

There’ll be good days and bad days, great days and days when sobriety just asks too much of you. Here are some tips for when things get tough.

Accept that relapse isn’t failure

Sobriety success rates show that relapsing is extremely common. It may sound bizarre, but practising long-term sobriety isn’t just about staying sober for a long period of time. You may fall off the wagon, but when you get back on — and you will — you’ll do so with a better understanding of your triggers and what strategies do and don’t work for you.

Sobriety isn’t a state of being so much as it is a journey. That journey has pitfalls and detours.

Addiction isn’t just about drugs and alcohol

This is why we brought up therapy earlier. Detoxing is the first step, but never the last. You’ll likely need ongoing professional help to understand the causes and effects of your addiction. 

Even without therapy, regularly speaking to your sober community about what you’re struggles and successes will help you get the weight off your chest.

Practice urge surfing
Urge surfing is a technique for breaking cravings (including addictive cravings) by practising sitting with the uncomfortable feeling and letting it naturally crest and dissipate. 

Addictive cravings come on suddenly, and the power of their immediacy is what often causes recovering addicts to break their sobriety. Urge surfing teaches can teach you to maintain composure till the intensity of the craving settles.

Distracting yourself from a craving can make it stronger or longer lasting, or can ruin your ability to perform the distracting task. Staying with the urge can help you take away its long-term power over you.

Return to your list of purpose

Remember that list you made of why you want to get sober? This is why you made it. When the path ahead seems unclear, remind yourself why you began your sobriety journey in the first place. Then, just take it day by day and hour by hour.

A stressed man smokes a cigarette outdoors.

The risks of getting off drugs and alcohol without rehab

We’ve saved this for the end because we don’t want to dissuade you from seeking alternative solutions to sobriety. Rehab is just one of many solutions. However, you do need to be aware of what you’re up against.

This is a list of the side effects of drug addiction. These aren’t just side effects of withdrawal; these can be ongoing disorders.

  • Suicidal ideation and self-harm
  • Delirium tremens
  • Seizures
  • Muscular atrophy
  • Rapid dehydration through vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Hallucinations and psychosis
  • Rage or decreased emotional functions
  • Memory loss

That isn’t a complete list. 

You would face the same symptoms if you went to rehab. The difference is that at our facility, our medical specialists would be able to provide immediate care.

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