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September 6, 2022

9 Myths About Addiction and Recovery That You Need to Know

Myths about addiction are dangerous for everybody involved because they can make treatment for addiction and recovery harder. It’s important to separate fact from fiction in order to clear up any and all harmful misconceptions. Debunking these myths about addiction relieves shame and encourages more empathy in the public consciousness, as well as encourages those needing assistance to seek out drug counseling and addiction treatment centers.

Top Myths About Addiction

1) Addicts Are Bad People

Addicts aren’t “bad people.” This myth is built on a fear-based stigma that promotes judgment over compassion. In fact, one of the most difficult initial hurdles is processing the shame addicts often feel about their addiction. The black-and-white myths about addiction have contributed heavily to the widespread belief that addicts are bad people. Numerous media outlets have spread the false notion that addicts are egotistical, helpless, and uncontrollable. This assumption may be born from fear and a lack of understanding about addiction, especially considering how easy it is to judge something and someone without any prior experience. 

People whose lives have been touched by alcohol abuse or drug addiction have firsthand experience with the powerful hold a substance can have on a person. Media outlets are unhelpful in dispelling myths about addiction because they are more likely to highlight a sensationalized article about drug or alcohol addiction than a positive anti-stigma feature for effective addiction treatment centers and outreach initiatives. Debunking this myth is important to reduce the stigma against addicts because it takes an incorrect moral stance that makes it hard for someone to seek out help without fear of judgment.

2) Addiction is a Choice

This myth goes hand in hand with the incorrect assumption that addicts are “bad people.”  The notion of addiction being a choice stems from the popularized false belief that addiction is a character flaw. This falsehood implies that if you struggle with alcoholism or drug addiction, then you must be reckless or weak-willed. This misconception influences how addicts view themselves and how family members view addicted loved ones, which leads to shame and guilt festering, causing an addiction to worsen. Abusing substances can also result in mental health issues as well, further fueling alcohol and drug addictions.

Addiction is a chronic disease with recognizable physical and psychological symptoms: It is not something a person chooses. Several socioeconomic factors may also play a role in addiction risk, but these factors are often out of one’s control. Addiction can be used as a way to suppress or cope with one’s trauma, abuse, mental health issues, or difficult circumstances.

In fact, alcohol use disorders and substance use disorders are recognized as mental health conditions. The “addiction is a choice” myth is actively harmful to individuals because of its negative moral stance that hurts rather than helps.

3) You Must Hit Rock Bottom Before Seeking Treatment

Like all of the myths thus far, the “rock bottom’ myth has serious repercussions that enforce a counterproductive course of action…if any action at all. The implication that a person is powerless to seek treatment until they’ve lost all their resources or support networks directly suggests one has to lose everything in order for care to be effective.

Furthermore, detoxing from substances due to chemical dependency is an incredibly unpleasant process with dangerous withdrawal symptoms that are worsened the longer a person waits. The “rock bottom” concept isn’t a medical term and doesn’t apply to other medical issues such as cancer or diabetes, so it should never be in the conversation when encouraging recovery.

4) Treatment Facilities Are Full of Criminals

False. This is a sentiment born out of a judgmental intolerance for those in recovery. Addiction can lead many people to make poor decisions. While a few of these behaviors might be against the law and give the victim a criminal record, it is essential to keep in mind that addiction is a disease that attacks the chemicals in the brain. The prefrontal cortex is the most affected by addiction because it is responsible for decision-making, critical thinking, and impulse control. Committing a crime and being addicted to substances do not go hand in hand.

5) Alcohol Addiction Isn’t As Serious as Drug Addiction

This is a myth because all types of addiction are dangerous to a person’s mental and physical health regardless of the substance. It’s a harmful ideology because society encourages excessive alcohol consumption during social events. Prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to serious health complications, overdose, and even death in the same way that heroin or opioid addiction can.

Alcohol addiction, unfortunately, relies on people’s negative opinions of drug addiction. Alcohol is everywhere because it’s generally easier to legally acquire than drugs and most gatherings will have some type of alcoholic beverage present. This means people are less likely to seek alcohol addiction treatment because alcohol abuse is seen as more “acceptable” and not as harmful as drug abuse.

6) You Can’t Be an Addict if You Have a Full-Time Job

This statement is related to the myth of the “functioning addict.” A functioning addict is a person (typically middle-aged) with a high substance tolerance and long job history that doesn’t raise any red flags for employers. Even though this person seemingly completes tasks at a sufficient level while using, it doesn’t mean that their life isn’t being affected in a less obvious way. In no way is being a functioning addict healthy.

In fact, experiencing functional addiction is so common that it is categorized as a subtype of addiction that requires early treatment for a better chance of recovery. The media portrays people with substance abuse disorders as unemployed, weak-willed, and criminal, which means a functioning addict breaks the stereotype and makes it much harder for them to recognize their own addiction. Because of this, it is absolutely possible to be an addict with a full-time job. 

7) If Someone Close to You Was an Addict, You’d Know

No, you wouldn’t always know. Because some people feel a great deal of shame about their substance abuse they often hide it. Deception is unfortunately a major part of substance abuse. For the most part, people don’t want to lie so they typically omit or sidestep relevant information that they feel will get them judged or punished by their loved ones.

However, this doesn’t mean loved ones won’t intuitively know something is ‘off’ or ‘different.’ Too often loved ones ignore their instincts and rationalize away an addict’s lies because they subconsciously want to avoid the conflict acknowledging addiction will cause. If someone’s gut instinct is telling them that there is something wrong with their loved one, then that means something is up. Parents and spouses are typically the first to instinctually notice changes in baseline behavior changes in their child or partner. You wouldn’t know exactly what has changed, but you’d know they’re omitting something.

8) The Same Treatment Plan Works for Everyone

Treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Because each person’s experience is different, that means there are unique factors that affect the risk of addiction per person. We’ve already established that a substance abuse disorder depends partly on genetics, a person’s environment, socioeconomic status, and mental health. These varying factors make it impossible to apply the same standard of treatment to everyone. 

Everyone entering treatment (at the very beginning) receives a clinical assessment in order to determine the best course of action for a person. From there, professionals will work with the person to design an effective treatment plan that is tailored to their medical history, substance habits, mental health, and goals for recovery. It’s a specialized plan unique to every person.

In fact, there are different types of treatment programs available to combat this very issue: inpatient treatment, residential programs, outpatient counseling, partial hospitalization programs (PHP), outpatient/intensive outpatient programs in Atlanta, and other treatment programs. To summarize, this is a myth because no two people’s experiences with substances are the same and it is actively harmful to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to specialized care.

9) Once Treatment Is Complete, Your Recovery Is Over

Completing rehabilitation is a major step, but continuing supported treatment is crucial to avoid relapsing. Specifically, recovery is a never-ending process and patients must continuously adjust to what their lives offer and have support throughout. Therefore, it’s important to reach out after rehab through an alumni program, sober living, and aftercare.

To overcome the challenges of addiction, patients must have the lifelong commitment it takes to achieve total sobriety and overall wellness. The specific treatment plan that is developed always includes a plan for after the rehabilitative process is over. But it’s also important to know that many people fail to remain sober after drug and alcohol rehab. Recovery will never be a straight-line process. In most cases, these relapses occur because proper support wasn’t maintained for triggers. In conclusion, it’s a myth to say that recovery is finite.

Break The Stigma on These Myths About Addiction: Find Help at Inner Voyage

At Inner Voyage Recovery Center near in Woodstock, near Atlanta, Georgia our priority is creating a kind, caring, and compassionate environment where you feel connected and safe to focus on your recovery goals. We want to develop a real relationship with you, and we want you to foster a community with those around you. We provide a place to be you with no judgment while giving you the tools and knowledge you need to cope with your recovery long term. Many of our team members are in recovery themselves and have firsthand knowledge of the healing process.

Our treatment team works together to provide a custom individualized treatment plan that will allow each person to have the greatest opportunity for long-term peace, freedom, and ultimately purposeful lives. We also offer optional full-service, Christian faith-based recovery programs. A life of sobriety is the goal for every person who walks through our doors and every team member is passionate about helping you achieve that goal. So, whether you are searching for “PHP program near me” or simply “outpatient addiction treatment”, contact us today to begin your journey.

If you or someone you know needs any of our services

Please call us at 470-863-8259

Author

  • Emily Rowe, LMSW

    Emily Rowe is the Clinical Director at Inner Voyage Recovery Center. She is a Licensed Master of Social Work with 8 years of experience in clinical settings covering one on one sessions, family sessions, group sessions, crisis interventions and suicidal prevention. Recognized by leadership and colleagues as forward thinking, creative, empathetic, active listener and effective.