A question we get a lot is how can I help my son, daughter, friend, husband, wife, co-worker, etc, how can I help them overcome their addiction? How can I be most helpful? And what we always turn to is knowledge. Knowledge is power. And having the most factual information possible is key.
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is a national health observance which links teens to science-based facts and information about addiction to Shatter the Myths about drugs and alcohol. So we figured it would be a perfect time for us to talk about some of the major myths of addiction and how even though they are just myths, not having the facts can be incredibly dangerous when we’re talking about helping people who are addicted. So, here we go. The top ten most harmful myths about drug and alcohol addiction.
Myth number 1: Addiction is not a disease.
This one is probably the most frustrating because addiction has been studied quite extensively in this regard and has been considered a brain disease by most of the mental health community for some time now. Specifically, The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has released a definition of addiction highlighting that addiction is a chronic brain disorder and not simply a behavioral problem involving too much alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex.
Myth number 2: You must hit rock bottom before seeking help for your addiction.
While many people do hit bottom before seeking help, it’s not a requirement for recovery. A lot of people will also cite you know, having this great moment of clarity when they decided to get sober or clean. Again this is not necessarily the rule.
Myth number 3: People who are addicted to drugs WANT to overdose. They do it for attention.
I was waiting in line for my coffee the other day and overheard this woman telling a group of people about fentanyl, its potency, and how many people will seek it out knowing that they could potentially overdose from it but do it anyway because the high is so intense. Naturally, my ears perked up and I was totally eavesdropping. One of the people asked a fair question. But why would they do that knowing they will overdose, that they could die? She then went on to say that they just wanted attention, so they overdose on purpose. And that just made my blood boil.
Myth number 4: You don’t need treatment. AA is free.
Yes, AA is free and it’s helped hundreds of thousands of people to reach recovery over the years. So many people are able to get sober and stay sober with the help of AA which is amazing. But for many others, this is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to recovery. From medication to one-on-one therapy, to residential treatment and Intensive Outpatient programs (IOP), there are many options to help you in every step of your recovery. It’s important to know your resources and where and how to reach out. Everyone experiences recovery in different ways and has different needs.
Myth number 5: If you’re loved one was an addict, you’d know about it.
Though we’d like to think we know our loved ones well enough to know if they were having a problem, the truth is that addicts are very good at hiding their addiction and masquerading as “functioning” despite their addiction.
Myth number 6: Addiction only happens to bad people.
Addiction can happen to anyone and does, regardless of gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, etc. Being an addict does not make someone a “bad” person. Consider the myriad of high-profile celebrities who have sought treatment for their addictions and are now living a happy life of sobriety.
Myth number 7: Being sober is so boring.
There are so many different ways to enjoy life in recovery. Going on outings, catching up with old friends, and having adventures become all the more fun when you’re clean and serene.
Also, shameless plug here, but the next episode of TDH Voice is going to be all about fun stuff to do in recovery – just in time for Valentines Day – so stay tuned for that.
Myth number 8: The only way it works is if the person WANTS to get clean or sober.
This one I can see because there is always that dialogue about having to hit rock bottom or having that quintessential moment of clarity that changed everything but that isn’t necessarily the way for every person. Plenty of people are in recovery today because they were “forced” to start rehab as a result of a DUI or trouble with the law. Not everyone is 100% sure they are ready for recovery once they decide it’s time to go. Even those who are already working a program, whether that’s AA or through a treatment center, have thoughts like “is this really what I want – or is this really how I want to live?” Even when you’ve been sober or clean for years you might still have those moments of is this the right thing. But you’ve just gotta keep going or “keep coming back” as they say.
Myth number 9: The 12 steps are archaic and don’t work for the modern day person in recovery.
“Different strokes for different folks,” as the saying goes. As with everything in life, you might find that what works for someone else doesn’t work for you and vice versa. Though the 12 steps were first published in 1939, and therefore might be viewed as “archaic”, there is something to be said for the fact that nearly 80 years later, the steps are still being utilized by addiction recovery groups worldwide.
Myth number 10: I’m too old for treatment or recovery.
This honestly couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, we had a woman share with us recently about her treatment experience. She said, quote, “I was 46 when I went I started rehab & a month-and-a-half later celebrated my 47th birthday at their sober living house. (I’ll be the big 50 this fall!) I didn’t mind that a big majority of the residents were young enough to be my children. We were all there with the same goal and objective – to get to the root of our issues and learn how to live a clean and sober life. I made friends that are like family today.”
The truth is that there really isn’t a good or bad time to start your road to recovery. The key is just to get started.
And that’s it. There are tons more myths about addiction and recovery – too many to fit them all in one episode. But we want to hear from you. What are the most ridiculous or harmful myths that you’ve heard about addiction and recovery? Tweet us at @TDHRehab with the hashtag #TDHVoice and let us know.
Tune in on February 7th when we’ll be talking about dating in recovery.
Listen to the entire episode here: