Substance addiction has affected many individuals and families during the opioid epidemic. Although there have been positive changes in public awareness about addiction and recovery in recent years, many misconceptions still persist.
These myths and misconceptions may contribute to stigmatization while creating barriers for people to begin treatment.
Addiction and Self-Control
The most common misconception is the belief that with enough self-control, a person can use substances for entertainment without getting addicted. Related to this viewpoint is the belief that addiction only happens to people with weak willpower or self-discipline. The truth is, nobody has control over containing the negative effects of substance use because it has an inherent nature of worsening. Irregular use often evolves into regular use and then addictive consumption.
The same misconception may also impact people who are going through recovery. Although recovering individuals are encouraged to practice self-control, one cannot rely on pure self-discipline to achieve sobriety. Sobriety often requires medically-assisted detoxification by trained experts. People who suffer from co-occurring mental health conditions also need to rely on counseling and therapy to maintain sobriety.
Prescription Drugs and Addiction
Many people develop substance use dependence by misusing prescription drugs. They may think that prescription drugs are not addictive like street drugs because they come from a doctor. However, if the prescription instructions are not followed, or if a person uses someone else’s medication, it is the same as using illicit drugs.
Many prescription medications may lead to addiction. These include painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants. Prescription drug addiction has affected all age groups, especially teenagers. For young people whose brains are still developing, drugs can be highly addictive and may leave lasting harmful effects.
The Best Approach to Recovery
Some may seek the best method of treatment to support their loved ones through recovery. They may consider a treatment effective if they know someone who has succeeded using a specific method. There are certainly many proven methods, including everything from the 12-Step program to cognitive-behavioral therapy. However, recovery looks different for everyone. Treatment may also involve a lot of trial and error.
It is important to have realistic expectations when entering treatment. A person should be honest and transparent about their symptoms and needs. Trust should be built with health professionals who have the toolkit to provide help. Addiction education and coaching teach people that recovery is a complex process to navigate. The recoveree should be open to exploring both traditional and new treatment methods.
Addiction and Family Life
Many people live in denial about substance use because they have been successful in their professional lives or they have a stable home. They may believe that substance use is a new hobby or personal choice that won’t affect other parts of their life. Substance use is a slippery slope. What begins as entertaining and relaxing can evolve into something compulsive.
Long-term substance dependence may change a person’s behaviors in such a way that they are no longer able to keep a job and fulfill family responsibilities. Addiction almost always disrupts family life. After substance addiction consumes most of a person’s time and attention, they may begin to neglect marital and parenting duties. Many people lie or deceive their family members to continue using.
Behavioral Problems or Brain Disease
Many people think that since many behavioral therapies are used in treating addiction, it must be a behavioral problem, not a disease. Human behavior begins in the brain. Advanced brain research shows that addiction can cause brain dysfunction. Behavioral patterns such as anxiety and depression are surface symptoms of the brain’s inability to manage.
Depending on the severity of substance dependence, sometimes behavioral treatments are enough. Some people can get sober with just support groups. Others may need more clinical interventions and medication to assist the recovery process. Considering addiction as a real illness is also an evidence-based way to combat stigmatization.
Recovery Process and Relapses
No two people’s recovery journeys look the same. There may be some shared broad stages, such as detoxification and therapy. Health experts usually customize a treatment plan by considering all of a person’s health factors, including physical well-being, emotional health, and mental health.
Even after detox and reaching early sobriety, one might still have cravings that seem hard to manage. This does not mean that treatment has failed. It just demonstrates that the brain is adjusting to the change. Even for people who have successfully maintained sobriety, relapse can still happen. It is an ever-looming risk. If relapse occurs, it does not mean that recovery is a lost cause.
Like other chronic illnesses, recurrence of symptoms may happen. This just means that recovery requires lifelong management. A recoveree should be prepared for setbacks while being confident that they are on the way to healing.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance addiction, you need to dispel some commonly-held misconceptions. Understanding why addiction happens and how recovery becomes sustainable will help you set realistic expectations and achieve treatment goals. Do not let misconceptions deter you from treatment or dreaming big for your recovery. If you want to be coached by some experienced recovery experts, you do not need to look beyond Casa Recovery. We have health professionals who treat both substance addiction and co-occurring mental health problems. The treatment team is highly experienced in addressing a wide range of emotional and mental health needs. Each client’s treatment team will work with them to provide customized efficient and effective treatment methods that have been developed and applied in clinical settings. Early intervention is key. Do not delay for another day. Call today at (888) 928-2272.