Myths of Recovery

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The stigma around mental illness, substance abuse and addiction causes many people to accept myth as fact. For some, these myths about recovery can make the difference between getting help and staying trapped in a painful cycle of substance abuse, guilt and shame. 

Whether you are trying to learn about addiction to help a loved one or struggle with substance abuse yourself, it’s important to debunk the most common myths and misconceptions first. By addressing these, you will gain a better perspective on what causes addiction, how treatment works and what to expect during recovery. 

Myth #1: You Have to Go to Residential Treatment to Get Better

While studies show residential rehabs are highly effective, there are many other factors that contribute to a person’s success in recovery. People who attended intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) for addictionrecovered just as well as those who received inpatient treatment. 

The duration of a program, and your personal commitment to recovery, also play a large factor in how effective your treatment will be. If you can only afford or access an outpatient program, you should take full advantage of the opportunity and learn more about continued care. 

Myth #2: You Aren’t Sober if You Have to Take Methadone or Other Medications

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is common in many rehabs, and it can ultimately be life-saving for people who would experience major health complications or be at a high risk of relapse without it. Some people believe that taking methadone or another treatment is swapping one addiction for another, but this is untrue.

These drugs do not give people a high but are instead designed to help stabilize e a body and brain that has been affected by substance abuse. Many drugs require medication-assisted treatment to help ensure a safe recovery, and they are just as valid as taking medication for a mental illness or physical condition.

Myth #3: You Can’t Drink After Rehab

Recovery is different for everyone, and their ultimate goals will vary, too. Most programs promote total abstinence, but there are also people who want to change their relationship with alcohol and learn how to drink socially, responsibly and safely instead. 

It is perfectly acceptable to check into rehab or go to a treatment program without the intention of never drinking again.

Myth #4: It’s a Choice to Use, It’s a Choice to Quit

This isn’t entirely false, but the problem lies in the general perception of what “choice” means. Although a person makes the decision to start drinking or taking drugs, addiction is a complex problem that is influenced by psychological, biological and even genetic factors. 

Personal accountability is the most important aspect of recovery, so the real choice lies in whether or not you want to apply yourself to treatment, not whether or not you can stop using drugs or drinking alcohol entirely on your own.

Myth #5: Relapse Means You’ve Failed

Over half of all people who complete an addiction treatment program experience relapse within the first year. For some, this feels like the end of the world, and they truly believe they are a lost cause. But relapse is considered a part of the recovery process.

As you learn how to respond to triggers, control urges to reuse and regulate emotions in a healthier way, relapse may occur, but that does not mean you have to continue or cannot seek help again. This is one of the reasons why continued treatment through outpatient therapy or a support group is integral to many 12-step recovery programs. 

Hopefully, this information has helped you view substance abuse recovery a bit differently. The best thing you can do for yourself or a loved one is to keep an open mind and always be willing to try. Being understanding is hard when we’re hurt, angry or fed up with ourselves or others’ actions, but it is vital to persistently seek out more information and resources to overcome addiction together.

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