How to Stay Sober After Detox

outpatient group session

Completing drug and alcohol detox is the first of several steps in a comprehensive addiction treatment plan. Although it may be tempting to just complete detox and assume you’ll be able to stay sober forever, it’s not very likely. Detox alone does little to curb or eliminate addictive behaviors, so it’s extremely important to continue treatment with inpatient or outpatient rehab after detox. Otherwise, the risk of relapse and overdose is high.

The Risk of Relapse and Overdose After Detox

The primary purpose of drug and alcohol detox is to help a person overcome a physical addiction and achieve a stable and sober state in which the body is no longer dependent on an addictive substance.

Although this is an important and vital stage of the recovery process, it does not address the addictive behaviors and negative attitudes that also contribute to addiction. As a result, a person is much more likely to continue those behaviors after completing detox, regardless of their temporarily sober state.

In addition, the risk of overdose is much higher immediately following detox because a person will have lost his or her tolerance. Simply put, a dosage that a person was once accustomed to taking could suddenly become fatal.

According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, addiction relapse rates are about 40 to 60 percent, which is the same as other chronic conditions like type 1 diabetes or hypertension.1 Relapse can occur for a variety of reasons, such as a lack of support, strong physical cravings, or a lack of coping skills, but certain situations can further increase a person’s risk of relapse. These may include:

  • Completing detox without inpatient or outpatient rehab
  • Recent incarceration
  • Relapse after several weeks or months of sobriety
  • Abruptly stopping medication assisted treatment

Opiate overdoses are particularly dangerous, especially after detox, as too much of the drug can overtake the central nervous system and completely shut down the respiratory system.2 As a result, most opiate overdose victims die from respiratory failure.

How to Stay Clean After Detoxing from Drugs and Alcohol

In most instances, people go to detox to get sober with the intention of staying clean for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, treating the physical aspects of addiction without treating the psychological aspects of addiction is not an effective way to do this.

In order to achieve long-term results in sobriety, a person should complete a personalized detox program and continue with ongoing treatment afterward. Not only will this reduce the likelihood of relapse and overdose, but it is also much more likely to encourage success in long-term, lasting sobriety.

After detox, a person has several different options for continued treatment. They are:

  • Inpatient residential rehabThis type of addiction treatment typically provides anywhere from 30 to 90 or more days of behavioral therapy, 12-step program work, and family therapy, in addition to other types of specialized therapies. This type of drug rehab also provides a high level of support and structure, as clients live on-site at the rehab center for the duration of their treatment program. Although 30-day programs are commonplace, the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends long-term treatment of at least 90 days for the most positive outcomes.3
  • IOPIOP (or Intensive Outpatient Programs) can also range from 30 to 90 days or longer. These programs provide a high level of support and care for individuals in recovery. Treatment also consists of behavioral therapy, 12-step program work, family therapy, and other specialized therapies. The primary difference between residential treatment and IOP is that IOP programs are comprised of a series of weekly or bi-weekly meetings held at a safe, clinical facility. Clients do not live on-site and they are permitted to come and go as they please while enrolled in treatment.
  • Sober livingSober living programs (also referred to as transitional housing programs) are designed to help rehab graduates transition from a life of addiction into a life of sobriety. After detox, inpatient or outpatient rehab programs help people in recovery modify negative behaviors and attitudes, learn how to cope with triggers, and build healthy relationships. After rehab, transitional living programs give those people a safe and sober place to practice living independent sober lives with the guidance and support of sober staff and peers.
  • Personal monitoring program – People in recovery may also choose to enroll in other support services after completing rehab, such as a personal monitoring program. This type of program can be combined with sober living or IOP to provide additional assistance with sobriety maintenance. Personal monitoring programs include individual sessions with a program coordinator, tiered recovery programming, one-on-one work with a sponsor, regular drug testing, and personal assistance transitioning into an independent life of recovery.

Each of these addiction treatment programs plays an important role in the recovery process and can help a person stay sober after completing detox.

If you or your loved one is enrolling in detox for the purpose of achieving long-term, continued success in sobriety, your Briarwood treatment team can provide personalized recommendations for ongoing addiction treatment upon completion of your detox program.

To enroll in a detox program first, please call the Briarwood Detox Center admissions team and start your recovery journey today.


  1. https://drugfree.org/article/relapse-overdose/
  2. https://www.opiate.com/overdose/risk-opiate-overdose-detox/
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-long-does-drug-addiction-treatment

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