The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health recorded an estimated 27 million people aged 12 years and older who used an illicit drug within the past 30 days, as well as 60.9 million people who were considered binge-alcohol users and 16.3 million people who were considered heavy drinkers in general. And yet, only about 1.6 percent of people who were said to need treatment for their substance use disorders actually sought out treatment.
There are a lot of myths about rehab treatment out there that prevent people from getting help. The United States is in a perpetual battle against alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription painkillers, with news specials being released nearly every other day about the status of addiction within the country. So why is it that with all sorts of updated and new information being given out, people still believe myths that insist rehab treatment isn’t a good method for treating addiction?
It’s time to debunk some of the more popular myths about rehab treatment. Whether you are skeptical of how well treatment centers can work or are afraid of the stigma that comes with admitting you need help, refusing to seek treatment for your addiction is not safe for your health. Some myths gain power out of people’s fears and insecurities, and it’s time to realize that rehab treatment centers aim to eliminate these fears and provide you with safety and courage.
Myth #1: People don’t need treatment.
What People Think: “They can stop doing drugs if they really wanted to.”
The Reality: Addiction is a “primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry,” as defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. When someone is suffering from addiction, they need professional treatment to recondition their mental, physical, and emotional health so they can continually succeed in recovery. If it truly were as easy as quitting cold turkey and never looking back, then addiction wouldn’t even exist, but this is not the case. Some people need to go through 90-day treatment while others can do it on their own, but neither is better than the other.
Myth #2: You can’t force someone into treatment.
What People Think: “If they don’t choose to go themselves, it won’t be effective.”
The Reality: Most people do not want to go to treatment, even when they know they need it. People enter treatment all the time by force, whether it’s a legally mandated court order, the result of an intervention from loved ones, or from the threat of losing their job or family. People who face high pressure in their lives with more to lose can heighten their “rock bottom” just by anticipating it becoming a reality—and that can motivate someone enough to seek treatment. In a perfect world, everyone would realize their mistakes and get help, but some people need a bit of a push.
Myth #3: You’re not ready to start treatment until after you hit “rock bottom.”
What People Think: “They have to lose everything before they can change.”
The Reality: Not everyone has to bottom out to want to seek help—nor should this be encouraged! Popular media has romanticized the story of an addict and gives the impression that a person has to lose everything including their job, their family, their house and be on the verge of overdosing in a sketchy alleyway on a rainy night before realizing their life is in shambles. When in reality, a good amount of people realize their addictions much earlier. Everyone’s “bottom” is different. In fact, just the idea that you might be “one of those people” is enough to influence yourself into getting treated.
What People Think: “They all virtually use the same methods and strategies.”
The Reality: There are several types of treatment methods and practices available in the industry, from holistic therapies, faith-based programs, to traditional hospital inpatient centers. There are rehabs by the beach, the mountains, and wide open plains with no one around to invade your privacy. Group therapies can be catered to what makes you comfortable, as well as which doctor you engage with. Whatever your needs and desires are, you can find a treatment center that matches what is best for you. So don’t settle for something you don’t want.
Myth #5: People who go to treatment more than once aren’t trying hard enough.
What People Think: “You’re just wasting time and money if you keep going back.”
The Reality: While some myths about rehab treatment are based on misguided information, this myth is based on social stigma. People who have never gone through severe addictions don’t always understand the obstacles and downfalls that occur—even when a person is determined to get better. People relapse. People go into treatment over and over again. People sometimes have to constantly ask for help. Addiction is a hard battle that requires every ounce of your body to fight. Like boxers in a ring, some people fight their battles with one punch while others get knocked out repeatedly—but the people who are trying the hardest are the ones who keep getting back up, bloody lips and all. So keep trying for as many matches as it takes.
Myth #6: Treatment cures addiction.
What People Think: “Otherwise, what’s the point of treatment if it doesn’t cure it?”
The Reality: Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Addiction for many people is a lifelong, chronic disease. This is why most treatment graduates are said to be “in recovery” as opposed to “recovered.” While treatment can give someone a fresh start at life, clients are only given tools to control their substance use by abstaining from it and pursuing sobriety. Currently, there is no cure for addiction. This doesn’t mean drug and alcohol treatment proves fruitless, however. Just as how people living with mental illness should seek treatment and counseling to help guide them on how to live healthy, functioning lives, the same goes for people battling substance abuse.
Myth #7: There’s no hope for people who keep relapsing.
What People Think: “They keep choosing to do drugs and drink.”
The Reality: There is a reason that substance use disorder exists in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Addiction is a mental disease that can force unwarranted compulsions to self-medicate with illicit substances—even after treatment. In a perfect world, people could go to a special rehab and make their addictions go away, but the reality is that every single day people who struggled with substance abuse in the past might also be struggling with substance abuse in the future. This is why seeking treatment and participating in their aftercare recovery groups is important in maintaining sobriety, especially within the first year out of treatment. Some people will have to repeat treatment services, and there is nothing wrong with that. Every day provides new lessons, which means potentially new mistakes, but also new rewards. As long as you have the will to fight addiction, then there will always be hope.
What People Think: “People relapse all the time after treatment, so it’s obviously flawed.”
The Reality: This is one of the most dangerous myths about rehab treatment. Let’s get this straight: Relapses are not indicative of failure, contrary to what many people believe. They are, however, a sign that other treatment methods need to be implemented toward a person’s recovery. When someone enters rehab treatment as a result of a relapse, some of the first questions asked are: “What could have been done to prevent the relapse? What wasn’t discussed in treatment therapy beforehand? What do we need to change now?” Because no two individuals are the same, sometimes treatment is a matter of trial and error, much as how someone searching for their career path will go down many roads throughout life. A variety of specialty treatment centers exist, for this reason, to allow someone to explore new avenues as they try to find their own personal answers toward the pursuit of happiness.
It is understandable why some people might be frustrated with how long it can take someone, or themselves even, to conquer addiction. Though it might look grim to see time go by with no results, this does not mean treatment is a failure on you or anyone else. Some people need longer treatment stays to detach from their lives as they heal while others need holistic approaches to open their eyes to new lifestyle habits to heal after treatment. Some people need to communicate with several support groups before finding their place in a community they relate to while others need to speak with individual counselors in the comfort of their privacy. Some people look to God while others need solace that there are scientific explanations for their disease.
Drug and alcohol treatment comes in many forms. So before you give in to misguided myths about rehab treatment, have some courage to research available programs or seek advice from addiction professionals on what may be the best options for you. The road to recovery does not have clear answers, much as how life itself doesn’t have any clear direction of where you will go, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the opportunity to live. Rehab treatment centers can give you the tools you need to tackle your addiction and are determined to surround you with love and support. No myth about that.
If you have a loved one who is struggling with substance abuse and addiction, California Highlands is available 24-7 to help you reach out to your loved one and guide them toward treatment. Call 855-935-0303 today and learn about our rehab facility and treatment options. At California Highlands, we provide a unique approach to recovery, delivered with dignity and respect.