Natural recovery refers to a situation where an individual is able to escape their alcohol or drug dependence without the benefit of any type of treatment. The individual just arrives at a point in their life where they feel able to quit. There are also cases where heavy alcohol or drug users have been able to return to safer levels of use. It is difficult to assess the number of people who are able to escape addiction this way. This is because such individuals do not usually show up in the statistics as they have not sought any treatment.
Natural recovery can be referred to be a number of other names including:
* Spontaneous remission
* Self change
* Self recovery
* Auto remission
* Spontaneous recovery
* Self maintained moderation
Studies into the efficacy of natural recovery from addiction have been sparse, but there is a growing interest in this phenomenon. One of the main problems with collecting such research is that those who quit their addiction naturally will often not appear in statistics – nobody other than family members and close friends may even know that the individual ever had a substance abuse problem. A number of studies have shown that there are substance abusers who seem to be able to return to low risk drinking or low risk recreational drug use. Hopefully more studies will be forthcoming in the future.
There are a number of reasons for why people may choose natural recovery including:
* The individual feels strong enough to give up their substance abuse without the help of anyone else.
* The individual learns how to moderate their intake. This may occur with people who are strongly motivated, but it may not be something that they can keep up indefinitely.
* They do not have a long history of trying to give up without help and failing. This means that their self efficacy may still be high – their inner belief gives them the motivation they need.
* There are sometimes people who claim to have a spiritual experience that completely changes their outlook and worldview. An example of this type of spiritual event would be the near death experience.
* Some individuals manage to sum up enough determination after hitting rock bottom that they are able to quit unaided.
One of the reasons for why people seem to be able to give up naturally may be that they have high self efficacy. This is the belief that an individual has in their ability to achieve something. When people have high self efficacy it means that they are highly motivated. They have belief in their ability to achieve the goal so they are willing to put a great deal of energy into it. Those who have low self efficacy are almost doomed to fail from the start. This is because they do not believe that they will be able to achieve the goal so they become unable to muster the needed motivation. The most common reasons for why people will have low self efficacy include:
* They have low self esteem and this means that they have no confidence in their own abilities. It is common for addicts to suffer from low self esteem, and this may explain why it is so difficult for them to stop without treatment.
* If people have tried and failed at something it can lower their self efficacy. Most addicts will have a history of numerous failed attempts to go it alone so their self efficacy in this regard will be low.
* Humans are easily influenced by their peers, and these people can lower the individual’s self efficacy for giving up alcohol or drugs. An addiction therapist is often able to counter this by encouraging the individual’s belief in their own abilities.
* Those who are ambivalent or unsure about the desirability of being in recovery can struggle to develop high self efficacy. This is because they do not really want to succeed.
There are some people who manage to quit their addiction unaided and who go onto live meaningful and fulfilling lives. Such individuals would arguably not have benefited additionally from any type of addiction treatment. There are other people who give up naturally but run into problems because:
* Those who quit after hitting rock bottom can forget how bad things were after they have been sober for a few months or years. It is often said that, time heals all wounds, and it can easily lead to forgetfulness – there is also the saying that, those who forget their mistakes are doomed to repeat them.
* Most alcoholics and drug abusers will experience times when they are able to control their intake. The problem is that they almost always return to their former levels of abuse.
* Just because the individual is abusing these substances less does not mean that their life is significantly improving. If people want to enjoy a life where they achieve their potential then they may need to give up alcohol or drugs completely.
* Individuals who belong to a recovery fellowship have the chance to spend time with like-minded people who share a common goal. Those who go it alone will not get to enjoy such fellowship.
* There is more to becoming sober than just giving up alcohol or drugs. If the individual fails to deal with the character flaws that led them into addiction they are likely to fall into other maladaptive behaviors.
* Going to rehab is not only about getting through the detoxification but more importantly about developing the tools that the individual will need to stay sober and build a meaningful life. Those who choose to give up naturally may not have the opportunity to learn about these useful tools.
* It is often said that recovery is a process and not an event, and this implies that there is a journey that people make in sobriety. It makes sense to benefit from the experiences of those who have already made this journey.
* One of the reasons for why people turn to substance abuse is that they do not feel able to cope with life. If the individual gets sober without dealing with their underlying issues they may continue to suffer.
* 12 step groups not only offer a means to stay sober but also a program for living.
There does seem to be many people who are not able to recovery naturally from their addiction. Those who have ended up in rehab or recovery groups will usually have tried going it alone on a number of occasions and failed. As the saying goes, if you keep on doing the same things, the same things will keep on happening to you so these people are put into a position where they need to ask for help. It would be fantastic if everyone was able to quit their addictions without any type of treatment, but it just does not appear to be an option for everyone.