New Year, New You: 6 Ways to Get Clean

January 17, 2017
Hands clasped together

One of the most common times to seek help for substance abuse is January. This is because of New Year’s resolutions and people’s desires to live a better life and start the year right.

Getting clean may be one of the most monumental decisions of a person’s life, and starting the new year clean and sober couldn’t be a better resolution.

Many people are afraid to get clean because of the pain of withdrawal, or their fears of asking for help.

I can attest to this myself. I am over two years clean from an ugly heroin addiction. I wanted help badly but didn’t want to admit I needed help, or tell people my problems. I was also terrified of the withdrawals I would face if I were to quit using.

Luckily my sister knew what was wrong, and offered to help me in any way possible. I checked into a medical detox facility for the first time and was shocked by the precision of treatment I received. I had no idea about comfort medications or the approach used in a medical detox facility. I didn’t know that medical detox was designed to fight withdrawal and make the process as pain-free as possible.

Now that I’m sober I help others get clean.

I do this through a 12-step fellowship, where I can support fellow addicts and help them find peace in recovery. I know how to relay my experiences to them and relate on a deeper level. When helping someone get clean, I try to share some of my darkest past. This helps build rapport and prove to them that I am trusting, caring, and that I understand what they may be going through. I try to only talk about myself, and how I became sober. It’s important to know that telling a person what they must do can have negative consequences. Letting someone come to conclusions on their own can be the best thing you can do to help them.

For example, I had a fellow addict struggling with finding deeper meaning in life. Opposed to telling him that he must believe in a deeper meaning in life, a higher power, or God, I told him exactly how I find deeper meaning in life. I have seen people in 12-step fellowships tell other addicts that they must believe in God. This ends up scaring people away who may not be open to these ideas. So I described to this person my own experience of struggling with finding true meaning in life, and exactly how I changed that. This built trust and allowed for him to come to his own conclusions. He found his own understanding of life and is still sober today.

There are several routes to getting clean.

Depending on how chemically dependent one might be, medical detox may be necessary. Whether you’re looking to moderate, cut it out for the new year, or get clean once and for all, here are some of the options:

Medical detox

Detox is a short-term inpatient service that allows the patient to withdraw from drugs or alcohol safely and comfortably. A mixture of comfort medications and tapers are used to bring someone off of dependency slowly, rather than suddenly. This causes significantly fewer symptoms.

Drugs like benzodiazepines and alcohol may require medical detox because these substances can cause deadly withdrawal. Seizures are a common life-threatening symptom of withdrawal, and they can be prevented in a medical detox center.

Detox centers also allow people to be physically removed from their drug of choice. This can be highly beneficial for people who are unable to stop or slow down drug use on their own.


Tapers are drugs used to curb the symptoms of withdrawal by gradually lowering doses. These are common outside of medical detox for opioid withdrawal. Common drugs are Suboxone (buprenorphine) and Methadone. These drugs replace other opioids without the negative side effects of addiction. Typically, their doses are lowered over time until they’re no longer needed. This is more efficient than quitting opioids “cold turkey.”


Talk therapy has shown high success rates in helping people manage their drinking or quit drugs. It helps treat the underlying causes of addiction and helps the patient determine a game plan for recovery. Early recovery can be difficult and therapists offer an ear and guidance.

12-step fellowships

12-step fellowships are among the oldest and most successful treatment options for people looking to become clean and sober. They are free groups of addicts and alcoholics that help each other achieve sobriety and remain sober. There is a 12-step fellowship for nearly every type of addiction, whether it be Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and even Gamblers Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous.


Many treatment centers and churches use faith-based programs and groups to help people overcome their addictions. These methods have been successful for people open to these ideas. Many claim church and God helped them change their lives and become sober for good.


Some of the most cutting-edge medications in the field of addiction treatment are beginning to show successful results. Drugs like Naltrexone (Vivitrol) work by blocking certain receptors in the brain. This makes drinking very undesirable and also completely prevents any type of high from opioids.

Naltrexone is a pill taken daily, which for some can be hard if they still have strong cravings to use or are drinking. But the drugs fortunately also help curb cravings. Vivitrol is an injection that lasts for about one month. After being injected with Vivitrol it would be impossible to get high on opioids or have a pleasurable drinking experience.

About the author

Knight is in long-term recovery from addiction. He is now the Outreach Director for, where he writes and develops educational material about addiction. In his spare time, he helps others achieve sobriety and volunteers at a local Harm Reduction Initiative in South Florida.

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