Addiction is a complex disease that affects one in seven Americans, according to a report from the U.S. surgeon general. It seems like everyone knows someone who has dealt with substance addiction, whether personally or within their family or group of friends. But although addiction is common, there are still many myths surrounding addiction and recovery that don’t serve anyone any good.
These addiction and recovery myths aren’t just false ideas. They can cause serious harm in a person’s life and prevent them from seeking the treatment they deserve.
1. If you can’t overcome addiction, you don’t have any willpower.
It’s practically impossible to beat addiction using willpower alone. Addiction alters a person’s brain chemistry, producing changes that they have no control over. Instead, intense mental and emotional cravings are only satisfied by their drug of choice, whether that’s a substance, food, gambling, shopping or other addictive behavior.
2. You can’t be an addict if you have a job.
People who are struggling with addiction can appear normal and healthy on the outside. They have good jobs or are succeeding in school, and do an excellent job in convincing other people–and themselves–that they don’t have a problem. However, it’s estimated that 75% of people with substance use disorder maintain employment.
Someone may look like they have it all together on the outside when in reality it’s all a facade. Without treatment, addiction will lead to consequences that negatively impact their career, relationships and other aspects of their life.
3. You need to hit “rock bottom” before getting help.
Substance abuse causes negative consequences. While some consequences are extreme, many people who seek treatment for addiction have not hit “rock bottom.” The notion that you have to reach the lowest point of your life before you can recover from addiction is a dangerous misconception. Thinking about addiction and treatment in such extremes allows someone who is struggling with addiction to sink further into denial.
4. If you’re an addict, you’re a certain type of person.
Addiction does not discriminate. Anyone can develop an addiction, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, morality, mental health, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation or intellect. No scientific evidence suggests otherwise.
5. If you’ve tried treatment and relapsed, you’ll never be able to stay clean.
Many people who seek treatment for addiction relapse. In fact, relapse rates are between 40 and 60% after treatment, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. But just because someone tried treatment and was unsuccessful doesn’t mean it won’t work the second, third or fourth time.
Addiction is a chronic disease, and like all chronic diseases, relapse is a part of being in recovery. It’s not a sign of failure or that a person is destined to remain an addict forever. It’s a sign that more support and treatment are needed. Lasting recovery is contingent upon a number of factors, and sometimes it takes more than one bout of treatment. Relapse happens, but what really matters is how the person responds to it. Do they spiral out of control or take it as a sign to recommit to recovery?
Spearhead Lodge specializes in addiction treatment for chronic relapsers and those who identify as treatment-resistant. Our recovery programs work, and we have the alumni network to prove it. Contact us for more information about how our services can help you or someone you love recover from addiction.