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If you spent time in or around the field of drug addiction and rehabilitation, you may have heard of the recovery process of “maturing out.” Many people might not know exactly what is meant by “maturing out” so first, we will go over what it means.
Maturing out is known by a few other names such as “natural recovery” or “spontaneous recovery” and generally refers to the process of an addict who naturally in the course of their life simply able to stop abusing the drug or substance they were struggling with.
In the medical field, these terms often refer to people who overcome or recover from a disease, illness or other condition without treatment or when treatments have failed. This somewhat mysterious phenomenon of addiction was first discovered in the early 1960s by a social researcher in New York City named Charles Winick.
The term “maturing out” has mostly been used in the past to describe heroin addicts who “outgrow” their habits. This is because Charles Winick found out about the phenomena while he was studying the public health records of heroin addicts at the time. He found that many of the heroin addicts who started using in their teens stopped showing up on his medical records by the time they reached their mid-twenties to thirties.
He followed up on this in his report on maturing out of addiction and found that while a few had unfortunately not survived. The rest had eventually quit on their own and resumed their adult lives.
Is “Maturing Out” a Viable Option for Addicts?
In looking at this question it is best to have some data. Studies indicate the average length of different drug and substance addictions. It is very important however to recognize that the following statistics are only averages and are by no means the rule as everyone is different and experiences addiction differently.
The average length of various addictions are as follows:
- Cocaine addictions average four years in length.
- The average addiction to marijuana lasts six years.
- Prescription opioid addictions last five years on average.
- Alcohol addiction and dependence typically lasts fifteen years.
- Addiction to Heroin also averages a fifteen-year duration.
It is quite well documented in studies like Charles Winick’s and others that something like half or maybe even more of the people who become addicted to drugs or alcohol are eventually able to “grow out of it” and recover from their addiction on their own without the need for treatment.
However, that is not to say that this process is quick or easy by any means. It usually takes a long time and a lot of unhappiness and misery for the addict and their loved ones before a person is able to grow and mature to a new point in their lives where they no longer feel the need to depend on the substance they were abusing. Also one must take into account the other percentage of addicted people who DO need help to recover, and those who might be able to recover from addiction but sadly die from their drug use before they can.
For anyone for whom addiction is overwhelming, dangerous or just far too much to contend with alone, it is of course strongly recommended that they not “wait until it gets better by itself” because there is absolutely no guarantee that it will. For these people, it is very much recommended that they seek help and treatment as soon as possible to speed their recovery and end the dangerous situation that addiction poses.
Obviously, there are many addicted people for whom maturing out is not a viable option, but for many others, it is the natural progression of their addiction, that it should end as they move on with the next chapters of their life. However, the question remains: Can you just decide to mature out and stop taking addictive drugs?
It may be that for some they find that this is a possible solution, however, the realities of drug addiction still apply and unfortunately it can be extremely difficult to simply “decide” and try to force a natural recovery that usually can take many years and even decades, and for some, never even happens at all.
So what options are there for someone who thinks that they may be ready to quit but wants some help and oversight to assist them with the difficult task of recovering from addiction? Addiction outpatient treatment programs as an option for those who want to recover but don’t want to attend a traditional rehab.
What Are Outpatient Drug Programs?
An outpatient drug rehab program is a program in which a patient can enroll during which they can stay in their home and continue going to work or school and continue to support their family if needed. There are many different outpatient programs of course, but they will typically involve the patient staying at home but scheduling visits with a counselor or visits to a facility where they receive counseling, rehab skills, and therapy.
Outpatient programs are not usually recommended for recovery from drugs that have a very difficult detox or withdrawal period, but it can be effective for any addiction depending on the person being treated. There are, of course, upsides as well as downsides to attending an outpatient program. The pros and cons of outpatient drug rehab programs are as follows:
- An attendee can stay at work or school and continue to support those who may depend on them.
- Counseling sessions are often able to be planned for nights or weekends around your schedule.
- The things you learn in your counseling sessions you can immediately apply in your everyday life. There is no post care adjustment period after the treatment ends.
- Outpatient programs often offer sessions with your family to help them better understand what you are going through and how they can help.
- Outpatient care is usually less expensive than an inpatient program and is often covered by insurance plans.
- Because you are in the same environment that you are used to being in while you were addicted you run the risk of being exposed to the same triggers and life conditions that caused you to use in the past.
- Being involved in the problems and distractions of your daily life can take your attention away from your recovery.
- It may still be easy for you to access drugs or alcohol.
- Your access to your counselor is more limited than it would be in an inpatient program.
- You will not be spending as much, or any, time with others who are going through struggles similar to yours. People who attend inpatient programs often form strong bonds of friendship with others attending the program and these bonds can help form a support group that a person can rely on to help them with their continuing recovery after rehab ends.
So to answer the question: Does maturing out result in lasting sobriety? The answer is yes and no, for many people it does, but for many others it may never happen at all or they may just want to get to that point sooner or they may need some help to get there. For more information about outpatient drug rehab centers, and how you can get help, contact New Beginnings today.