Six Common Misconceptions About Addiction Treatment
In recent years, the media has paid a lot more attention to issues related to addiction and treatment because of the opioid crisis. Despite this increase in attention, many myths and misconceptions about addiction, treatment, and recovery persist. These misconceptions can stand in the way of people getting the help they need. The following are some of the more common misconceptions around addiction treatment.
“You have to hit rock bottom before treatment will work.”
One of the most persistent myths about treatment and recovery is that you have to hit rock bottom before you can recover from a substance use disorder. The biggest problem with this myth is that there’s no guarantee someone will hit bottom before they die of an accident or overdose. In 2018, more than 67,000 people died from drug overdoses, and each year, about 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes.
While a rock-bottom moment may help convince someone to get treatment, it’s not the only thing that can. For example, about 120,000 people go through drug courts each year and those who do are far less likely to reoffend than people who just go to jail; indicating that treatment can be effective even if you don’t really want to go. What’s more, interventions are typically successful at getting people into treatment if they’re led by experienced interventionists. The truth is that most people who enter treatment are ambivalent about getting sober and they typically feel more motivated as treatment progresses.
“Treatment is for rich people.”
With so many news stories about celebrities going to rehab, it’s easy to associate addiction treatment — especially residential treatment — with the rich and famous. In reality, even inpatient treatment is more affordable than most people realize. In fact, the less luxurious treatment centers often offer better value, since more of your money goes to treatment rather than amenities.
Beyond that, there is a spectrum of care for addiction, starting with counseling or other outpatient services on one end and inpatient treatment on the other. Most people can afford some level of treatment, especially now that there are more ways than ever to pay for treatment. Most insurance companies will pay for at least a portion of treatment, and the recent SUPPORT Act has made more federal money available for treatment. Before you assume treatment is out of reach, call a few programs and see if they can help you pay for it.
“All you really need is detox.”
Since detox is the first really big barrier many people see standing between them and sobriety, they assume that if they could just get past that, then the rest of recovery will be easy. However, that’s typically not the case. Most people’s addictive behavior is driven by something else, such as a mental health issue or trauma. Until these are resolved or brought under control, any attempt at recovery is likely to be difficult and short.
A strong recovery typically entails addressing any mental health issues, creating healthy lifestyle changes, and connecting with a strong sober network. A good treatment program can help you get a good start on these tasks in a short time.
“If treatment didn’t work the first time, it won’t work the second — or third — time.”
Addiction is a chronic condition, and it often takes years of trying before recovery finally sticks. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 and 60 percent of people who get treatment for a substance use disorder relapse within the first year. However, just because treatment didn’t stick in the past doesn’t mean it won’t in the future.
While it may feel like you have to start over after a relapse, you’re actually starting from a better position than you did the first time. You are already familiar with the recovery process, you probably have some kind of sober network, and you have some new mistakes to learn from.
What’s more, not all treatment programs are the same. If you didn’t succeed with treatment in the past, it could be the program wasn’t great or it wasn’t well suited to your needs. You might do better in a different program. Or, if you liked the program, you might benefit from spending more time there. You have not failed until you give up.
“You can’t get treatment when you have a job or family to worry about.”
A lot of people feel like they can’t get addiction treatment because they have family or work obligations and they can’t just drop everything. While you do have to put life on hold to some extent to enter inpatient treatment, it is worth it for some people. If that’s just not possible, there are treatment options that allow you to live at home and work while still getting treatment — there are mutual-aid programs like AA and NA, you can talk to a therapist, you can get outpatient services, or you can enter an intensive outpatient program. Most treatment options don’t actually require you to go live in the facility for 30 to 90 days. Find a treatment option that works for you.
“After treatment, your addiction is cured.”
Too often, people assume that once they go through treatment, they’re set for life. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. As noted above, addiction is a chronic condition that most people will have to manage for life. Treatment is a great way to get away from an unhealthy situation, learn some crucial recovery skills, start treating any mental health issues, begin creating some healthy lifestyle habits, and forming social connections.
The first challenge comes after you leave, since many people have trouble making the transition back to regular life. This is why follow-up care, stepping down in treatment intensity, finding a local 12-Step meeting, and possibly even arranging a sober-living situation are often helpful for making the progress you made during treatment carry over into regular life.
There are many misconceptions about addiction treatment; those mentioned above are among the most common. Overcoming addiction is complicated and personal. There is no one-size-fits-all, and it often takes years of persistent effort for recovery to last. At The Foundry, we know that a lot goes into a strong recovery. We use multiple modalities to provide individualized care. For more information about our treatment options, call us today at (844) 955-1066 or explore our website.