Modern addiction treatment has existed for decades, starting in the mid-20th century. Though, over time, rehab and rehab facilities have collected some myths in popular culture that aren’t based in fact. Dispelling some of these addiction myths is important if they might break down stigmas and misconceptions that could help people seek the treatment they need to escape the oppression of active addiction.
Here are five of the most common myths about addiction treatment and the facts that prove that they might not be true.
1. You Don’t Need Rehab
One of the biggest addiction myths comes from an outdated understanding of what addiction is. Before modern addiction treatment, addiction and alcoholism were thought to be purely moral failings and needed a little strength of will to overcome. However, we’ve known it’s more complicated than that for decades. Dr. William Silkworth, who worked extensively with alcoholism, was one of the people who first introduced the idea of addiction as a medical issue and more than a moral failing. He published a paper in 1937 titled, Alcoholism as a Manifestation of Allergy. In it, he referred to alcoholism as a disease.
Years later, the National Institute for Drug Addiction echoed his sentiments, saying, “Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.”
Addiction is a disease that is incredibly difficult to overcome on your own. It affects the limbic system (reward center) of the brain and changes the way you perceive drugs. It confuses getting high with other life-sustaining activities like eating and drinking, causing you to experience powerful cravings and impulses beyond your control.
Addiction treatment is necessary like treatment for any other chronic disease. Even though it is a chronic disease, it is treatable through therapy and medical interventions.
2. You Can’t Force Someone into Recovery
There is a pervasive addiction myth that a person needs to make the decision to go to rehab on their own for it to be effective. It’s true that your readiness to change and your personal commitment to recovery is important but the idea that it will be ineffective if someone is coerced, going to appease family members, or forced by a court order is simply not true.
In fact, research shows that people are able to achieve lasting recovery even after they were forced into treatment. People find themselves in treatment for all sorts of reasons and they make it to long-lasting sobriety and recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one of the principles of effective treatment is the understanding that even people forced into treatment can achieve sobriety.
In treatment, their therapist or clinicians may plan for specific therapies, like motivational enhancement therapy, to help advance the client’s readiness to change. These therapies show the damage addiction has caused and highlight the positive impact a meaningful change could bring.
3. Relapse Means Treatment Failed
Addiction is a chronic disease and, as a disease, it carries a significant risk of relapse. Research shows that it shares similar relapse rates as other chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to a feeling of hopelessness. When people relapse, they may feel that they’ve failed or that there is no point to treatment. But if you have an asthma attack, you’re not going to give up and stop treatment altogether. Why should addiction treatment be any different?
When you go through addiction treatment and then relapse later, it doesn’t mean that you failed or your treatment failed. Through treatment, you learn about the underlying issues that have led to your substance use disorder, you learn techniques to cope with stress and cravings in a healthy way, and you learn relapse prevention strategies. In treatment, you build a foundation for preventing relapse, but the risk is still there. If you become complacent and stop actively pursuing recovery, it’s possible for you to falter.
Still, once you’ve gone through treatment, relapse just means that you need to reinstate treatment and address the issues that caused your relapse. There are even specific treatment strategies for people who are chronic relapsers.
4. You Need to Hit Rock Bottom First
One persisting myth is that you need to hit rock bottom before you can really start to make strides toward recovery. This may come from the idea in myth number two that you really want to be clean before you can try treatment. Hitting rock bottom is one way that people are given a wakeup call that they need treatment but it’s not a prerequisite to getting help.
Rock bottom can be a pretty ugly place. It may mean you’ve lost your job, been estranged from your family, contracted a serious disease, or are homeless. Rock bottom strips you of a lot of the tools that can actually help you during your recovery like supportive friends and family. It’s important to note that even people at rock bottom can seek treatment and achieve meaningful sobriety but, if possible, you should explore your treatment options before you hit rock bottom.
5. Treatment is for the Wealthy
For many people, the only context for rehab is when it’s seen on the news when a celebrity goes in for addiction treatment. For that reason, rehab may be seen as something reserved for the wealthy. However, we’ve come to understand that addiction is a chronic disease and health insurance providers have followed suit. Most private insurance providers cover treatment to some degree and most of the high-quality treatment centers accept coverage from a wide variety of private insurers. If you aren’t sure if you are covered, addiction specialists at Delphi Behavioral Health Group can help. Call 844-208-4761 to learn more about addiction treatment, what your tailored treatment options can be, and to find out if you are covered.