Unless you or a loved one has a history of substance abuse, it’s hard to understand the true nature of addiction. Without personal experience, people often fill their knowledge gap with presumptions, speculation, rumour, and conjecture, creating myths about addiction, and the recovery process that overshadow facts. So, let’s clear the air. The following are some of the most common myths about substance abuse, addiction, and recovery, and the real facts everyone should know.
Addiction Is a Choice
Fact: While initial drug and alcohol use is usually a personal decision, addiction is not a choice. For individuals with a dependency disorder, stopping is not a matter of willpower; they can’t stop using whenever they want. Their brain has become dependent on the substance to function normally, and any attempt to end use can create serious mental and physical distress that can be dangerous and even deadly. Addiction is disease, and you can’t choose to have a disease. But you can choose to treat your disease, and to commit to a life of sobriety.
Addiction Can Be Cured
Fact: There is a popular misconception that if you go to rehab, you’ll be cured of addiction. The truth is, there is no cure for addiction. Addiction is an enduring condition that rehab alone can’t make go away, but you can learn to manage your addiction successfully. Rehab provides the tools to help control the physical and mental health triggers that led to the addiction and that can cause relapse. After treatment, with ongoing counselling and support, and a continual commitment to sobriety, you can live a life free of drugs and alcohol.
Only Bad People Use Drugs
Fact: Substance abuse and addiction doesn’t discriminate, it exists in every walk of life regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, or economic status. People that use drugs are not bad people, they’re people struggling with underlying mental health issues. They have turned to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, as a survival mechanism to cope with physical or emotional pain. Addiction is not just a disease of the streets, substance abuse happens in every town, every suburb, every community, and can happen in any home.
Relapse Equals Failure
Fact: A relapse does not equate failure, it’s a normal part of the recovery process. Relapse is also not a reflection of the person who has had the setback but it can be an indication that additional addiction counselling or support is needed. Being aware of the potential for relapse and acknowledging it as a misstep and not a failure, prepares you with an open-mind and helps prevent feelings of shame, guilt, and hopelessness that can lead to further relapses.
Rehab Doesn’t Work
Fact: Residential rehab programs have been proven to be the most effective form of addiction treatment. In-patient treatment facilities work by providing personalized, industry-leading treatment methods designed to address the root cause of a patient’s addiction while rebuilding their mind, body, and spirit. During treatment patients receive mental health counselling, treatment for physical health issues, fitness and nutritional guidance, and life skills training, to help manage the initial stages of recovery and to provide tools for the future. Rehab is not a lifelong cure for addiction though. As mentioned, addiction is a lifelong condition marked by periods of relapse and recovery. After rehab, a successful recovery plan should incorporate ongoing aftercare and outpatient support services.
Prescription Drugs are Safe, Street Drugs are Dangerous
Fact: When abused, prescription drugs can be just as addictive and just as dangerous as illegal street drugs. In fact, prescription and over-the-counter drugs are the most commonly abused substances, after alcohol and marijuana. The myth that prescription drugs are safe and not dangerous like street drugs has been adopted because these drugs are given by a trusted source, your doctor, to make you feel better. And of course, when used as prescribed, this is true. But the reality is that the “positive” effects that these drugs have on our bodies can lead to abuse.
People are using prescription drugs to self-medicate and to get high; and addiction rates are soaring. Prescription drugs like painkillers (OxyContin, Percocet), anti-anxiety medication (Xanax, Nembutal), and other powerful mood-altering drugs, all have serious short and long-term physical and mental health risks when taken for non-medical use. Memory loss, hallucinations, psychotic episodes, suicidal thoughts, seizures, organ failure, brain damage, overdose, and death are all potential consequences of prescription drug abuse.
A Sober Life Is a Boring Life
Fact: When you free yourself from addiction, you open yourself up to a world of new possibilities. There is no denying that once you make a commitment to sobriety you will need to make significant modifications to your lifestyle. Any relationships, environments, or activities that can trigger a relapse or that pose any potential risk to your sobriety, must be avoided. Breaking free from the past and making a fresh start is scary, and but it also can be exciting. A new life means new opportunities. Making new friends, moving to a new area, starting a new job, or becoming more active in hobbies or sports, can create new possibilities, greater happiness, and newfound success. When you remove drugs and alcohol from the equation, many doors open.
Learning the truth about addiction helps end the stigma surrounding this disease and provides understanding and encouragement to those who struggle with substance abuse. If you’d like more information about addiction or residential mental health and addiction programs, call us at The Farm Rehab, 1-877-353-2777.