8 Myths About Addiction Treatment and Recovery

8 Myths About Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Making the decision to seek help for addiction isn’t easy. There are tough internal obstacles to seeking treatment, including denial, rationalization, and fear. It doesn’t help that there are many myths and misconceptions around addiction treatment and recovery. The following are common myths that keep people from seeking the treatment they need.

“You have to hit rock bottom before you can recover from addiction.”

One of the most persistent myths about addiction is that you can’t recover until you hit rock bottom. According to this myth, unless someone’s life can’t possibly get worse, you can’t convince that person to enter treatment and if you do, treatment won’t work anyway. There are several things wrong with this myth. First, many people die before they hit rock bottom. In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died of drug overdose [https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates] and more than 88,000 died of alcohol-related causes. [https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm] Second, most people who enter treatment aren’t sure they want to be there. It’s normal to feel conflicted about whether to get sober. Typically, people who enter treatment become more motivated during the course of the program. All you really need to start recovering from addiction is to feel like your life is heading in the wrong direction.

“Treatment is for rich people.”

We always hear about celebrities entering treatment for addiction and so one might assume you have to be rich to get treatment, but that’s not the case. There are many different treatment options and the most expensive aren’t necessarily the best. Often, in the most expensive facilities you’re paying more for luxury than treatment and you get better value from moderately priced programs. There are also more ways than ever to pay for addiction treatment. Most insurers cover addiction treatment and most quality treatment centers accept several kinds of insurance. What’s more, the SUPPORT Act expands the treatment options covered by Medicaid and Medicare. [https://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/federal-legislation-to-address-the-opioid-crisis-medicaid-provisions-in-the-support-act/

“Treatment cures addiction.”

When you’re suffering from a substance use disorder, it may be tempting to think that a treatment program will solve all your problems. In reality, entering treatment is a great start to recovery but it’s only a start. It can help you detox safely, break old habits, begin therapy, start building social connections, improve your coping skills, and so on, but ultimately you have to do the daily work of maintaining and strengthening your recovery long after treatment is over. 

“You don’t need treatment to beat addiction.”

The truth is there are many ways to beat addiction. Everyone is different and has a different relationship with substance use. Some people can recover on their own or with assistance from their doctor, therapist, or 12-step program. However, two defining characteristics of addiction include knowing substance use has negative effects on your life and continuing to use anyway and trying to quit and being unable to. More often than not, the belief that you can beat addiction on your own is just a defense mechanism or stall tactic to avoid confronting the problem.

“You have to become religious to recover from addiction.”

During the twentieth century, addiction recovery has become associated with religion, largely because of AA. Meetings are often held in churches and a higher power is central to the 12-steps. While many people describe themselves as spiritual, they are put off by the fundamentalism common in some vocal 12-step advocates. In reality, the 12-step framework is fairly accommodating. Faith may play a role in recovery, but introspection and social connection are at least as important. What’s more, the 12-step framework is only part of most programs and some programs don’t use it at all. There are many roads to recovery and you can choose one that’s right for you.

“All treatment programs are the same.”

As noted above, there are many roads to recovery. Although the 12-step framework is popular, it’s not the only choice. What’s more, there are huge differences in quality among treatment programs. There are around 14,000 addiction treatment centers in the US [https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/the-us-addiction-rehab-industry-2014-08-04-52033057] and relatively few provide a high standard of care. When choosing a program, it’s important to find one with qualified staff that uses evidence-based methods and is a good fit for you personally.

“Recovery is mostly a matter of willpower.”

A major misconception of recovery is that it’s mostly a matter of willpower. Although willpower does play a role, it should only be a minor one to get you through momentary difficulties. A successful recovery has a lot more to do with making structural changes in your life and learning new thinking skills and coping mechanisms. For example, many people with substance use disorders also have dysfunctional family dynamics and co-occurring mental health issues. Addressing these problems make recovery much easier and you don’t have to rely on willpower to stay sober.

“If you relapse after treatment it means you failed.”

Relapse is unfortunately very common. Anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of people relapse within the first year of treatment. [https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery] However, people can and do succeed in recovery even after several relapses. Sometimes they have to reenter treatment or try a different approach. They may need better transitional care moving from treatment back to regular life. The important thing is to figure out what went wrong, make adjustments, and try again. 

At Hart Consultants, we provide a number of different services to fit the needs of each individual client. Among these, are helping you choose a treatment provider, helping you develop a treatment plan, helping you establish post-treatment support, and ensuring continuity among the different elements of treatment. Contact us today at 844-262-7970 or Info@PatrickHartConsultants.com or explore our website for more information.

AUTHOR: Hart Consultants