After Drug Detox, Then What?

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright © 2004

Dear Annette,

My brother has agreed to go to a detoxification (detox) program and clean himself up.

After he has been through the detox program, which is only a few weeks, how should I follow up with the process?  Should I then send him to a psychologist or a self-help group?  I know with drug abuse its not just a physical thing; detoxing his body is only half the process.  He also has to detox his mind as well.

I would like to know what is the best way to find a good self-help group or psychologists.

- A Sibling of a Drug Addict


Dear Sibling of a Drug Addict,

You are right.  After detox is just as important if not more so than the detox.  Iím sure you have heard of AA-Alcoholics Anonymous, a 12-step program for recovering alcoholics, well, there is a program for recovering drug addicts based on the same 12-steps, called NA-Narcotics Anonymous.  These meetings are free. See:

In the beginning, NA calls for 10 meetings in 10 days to begin with and then at least a meeting a week or more as needed.  You may attend these with your brother if you wish.  (This may not be a bad idea.)

If you live in a small community, there may not be meetings available.  You may have to travel to a bigger city.  Larger cities usually have several meetings available throughout the week.  They meet at different times during the day and night.  Each meeting has its own character, so do not feel that you need to stay with the first one that you attend, shop around and see which meeting makes your brother feel welcome and safe enough that he could open up and speak or ask questions.

Recovering addicts are the exception not the norm, but the NA program has a higher rate of recovering addicts than those individuals who try to go it alone.   This is because NA members they know the pit falls and can guide their members away from such dangers, through the use of a personal sponsor.

A sponsor is a rehabilitated drug-addict who has had several successful years at sobriety.  His job is to sponsor or look after and guide a newly recovering addict through the program.  All your brother need do is ask for one.  They, like the program, are free.  The only thing that cost is the publications they put out for their members, which only covers the printing and is very little.  For example the book containing the main tenants of the program cost about $5 dollars.  Regularly a book that size would start at about $20.

They say that it takes an addict to know and addict.  This means that the wool cannot be pulled over their eyes.  For example:  When a newly recovering addict tries to pull a fast one, or worst yet, tries to rationalize dangerous behavior (lying to themselves), those thoughts and behaviors are quickly corrected by the sponsor and or the group.  Thatís one of the reasons why NA meetings are important.  They correct bad thinking and are a support to the recovering addict.

You can find these meetings listed in the phone book or perhaps in the Internet listings below:


State by State N.A. Meetings




Find an Narcotics Anonymous Meeting Near You

This is an index of Narcotics Anonymous regions and areas in the United States which have their local NA meeting schedules published on web sites.

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia


Internet NA Articles
ē What Can I Expect at a 12-Step Meeting?
Narcotics Anon.
[Home] [My Story] [Your Disease] [Steps to Insanity] [Slogans] [Alcoholic Anon.] [Narcotics Anon.] [About NA] [Steps We Took] [The Traditions] [Take Responsibility] [Affirmations] [Attitudes] ...


You need to know what your brother should be doing and why.  All 12-step programs are based on the same 12 Steps.  What those steps are, how the program works, what a recovering addict should be doing to change his life permanently and why, are listed in the article below.  If you want to know if your brother has dangerous behaviors that will lead to relapse, please read this article.

Addiction: Drug-Free Objectives and Relapse Prevention Tips  <---Click here

Understanding the program will help you to support and guide your sibling.  One of the most important things is for him to learn is how to deal with lifeís stressors instead of covering them up with drugs.  Just important is changing his life in the friends he has and the places he used to hang out at.  He cannot go back to his druggie friends and druggie haunts and expect to remain drug-free.  This is all very difficult and calls upon a drug-weakened individual with little or no will, to muster a great deal of courage, strength, and intestinal fortitude to tackle the total sum of his life and change it for the better.  That takes a lot of work and constant support from family, a NA sponsor, and a psychologist or counselor with drug-addiction expertise.  To find a drug counselor or psychologist, call around and find out who is good in that field.

In larger cities, there are Nar-Anon meetings, which are for the family of drug-addicts.  See:  In these meetings they discuss enabling behaviors (behaviors that allow or help the addict continue his addiction) and other topics to help you help the recovering addict in your family and help you heal too.  I highly suggest that you attend these meetings if they are available.

Nar-Anon Resources
Nar-Anon Family Groups is a 12-step support group for relatives and friends of drug abusers

Nar-Anon Meetings
Support meetings for those who have been affected by someone else's substance abuse.

Nar-Anon Resources
Information and resources for the friends and families of drug addicts and substance abusers.


I hope if you have any further questions, you will write.  I wish your family, you, and your recovering addict-brother well.

Best wishes for recovery,

Annette Nay, MS

PS.  If you hear of an organization called Narconon, they are a Scientology group that runs rehab centers, not Narcotics Anonymous.

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Annette Nay Homepage

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