Addiction is a complex condition, and as such, there are many myths about it – along with myths about drug and alcohol detox and addiction recovery. These myths are not only false ideas that don’t do anyone any good; they can also be quite destructive to people’s lives. These myths often prevent people from getting medically supervised detox at a facility like Serenity at Summit, which is the best option.
You have likely heard someone say, “Overcoming addiction is just a matter of willpower,” or something similar. Maybe you’ve heard, “He tried treatment and relapsed, so detox and rehab won’t work for him.”
Those myths, and many others, can cause people who are suffering from addiction to lose hope that treatment may be successful for them. It can also dash the hopes of loved ones whose friend or family member is struggling with addiction.
The following are some of the most common myths about addiction, drug detox, and addiction recovery and then the actual facts about them. Hopefully, if you or your loved one is suffering at the hands of addiction, this will dispel the myths for you and help you seek help.
Myth #1 – Anyone Can Beat Addiction – It Just Takes Willpower
Fact: Addiction is nearly impossible to overcome with willpower alone. People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol (or food, sex, shopping, or other behaviors) have intense mental and emotional cravings and compulsions that only their drug of choice can satisfy. Additionally, there is a genuine neurological change in people who are addicted that they have no conscious control over. Only a very small number of people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are able to stop using on their own.
Myth #2 – Addicts Are Immoral, Crazy, or Mentally Deficient
Fact: Addiction does not discriminate. Mental health, morality, and intellect have no bearing whatsoever on who becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol and who does not, and there is no scientific evidence that proves otherwise. Physical and psychological dependence and addiction can happen to anyone, regardless of their personal attributes.
Myth #3 – Addicts Should Be Jailed Because Rehab Doesn’t “Teach Them a Lesson”
Fact: Being an addict is not a crime in itself. But when someone who is addicted to drugs commits a crime and is incarcerated, it does teach them lessons – the wrong kind:
Being in jail often teaches addicts how to procure illegal drugs while behind bars, allowing them to stay addicted while they serve their sentence.
Being in jail also teaches addicts how to steal more efficiently when they get out.
Being in jail teaches that being punished for drug-related crimes instead of receiving treatment is more important to the community than treating the addictions that led to crime in the first place.
Suffering through withdrawals cold turkey in jail can force some addicts to conclude that the “system” places no value on their life or well being.
You can see how people who commit crimes due to drug use and go to jail and don’t receive treatment are more of a danger to society when they get out, still addicted and now more proficient at criminal activity and with a lower self-worth and lower view of authority.
Because of this, many communities are now working to process drug-related crimes through drug courts where offenders receive lighter sentences or diversion and are required to participate in treatment programs, take classes, and perform community service rather than simply be locked up.
Myth #4 – Addicts Have To “Hit Rock Bottom” for Treatment to Help
Fact: This simply isn’t true. While some addicts do suffer extreme negative consequences, the vast majority of people who seek help for addiction have not hit what is considered “rock bottom.” The idea that you must lose everything and everyone and be destitute or homeless for treatment to help is ridiculous. All you have to do is step into a 12-step meeting to see that addiction can be treated at any point on the spectrum.
Myth #5 – Addicts Have to Want Help for Treatment to Work
Fact: Addiction treatment can be effective whether or not a person wants to be helped. Sometimes people are forced into treatment by the courts, or their family and friends stage an intervention to get them to go to rehab. Those people have as good a chance as any others for successful recovery.
Myth #6 – Addicts Cannot Be Treated With Medication and Still Be Sober
Fact: Most drug detox treatment facilities now use medically assisted treatment to ease the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms for patients as they detox from substances. However, you do have to be cautious of detox centers that suggest that you continue to use these medications when you leave detox. The best course of action is to only use the medication to make it through detox and then follow-up with a residential addiction treatment program so that you can learn the skills necessary to prevent relapse.
Myth #7 – Treatment Didn’t Work Once, It Won’t Work Now
Fact: Most people who seek treatment for drug or alcohol addiction relapse – that is a fact. However, that does not mean that seeking treatment a second, third, or tenth time will not work. There are many factors that contribute to the success of recovery, and sometimes it takes more than once to stick.
Don’t Believe Everything You Hear About Addiction
There are many myths about addiction and treatment out there in addition to the seven listed above. It’s unfortunate because those myths often keep people who need help from seeking it out or accepting it. If you have questions about addiction and recovery, you should contact someone who knows about it – an addiction professional or therapist who works with people in recovery. Don’t fall victim to the myths, find the help through a medically supervised drug detox program that you or your loved one needs for addiction sooner rather than later.
Serenity at Summit