Substance use is a complex issue, as it involves the misuse of addictive substances. It is known to affect millions of Americans and their loved ones.
According to the National Institute on Drugs and Addiction (NIDA), about 40.3 million people in the United States suffered from at least one Substance Use Disorder (SUD) in 2020. Out of these, a mere 6.5% opted for treatment.
What’s worse is that 71 million people (over the age of 12) disclosed that they used an illicit drug in 2022. Additionally, about 10 million Americans are abusing drugs, including cocaine (5.3 million), prescription medications (4.3 million) and meth (2.7 million).
So, if you or someone close to you is struggling, remember you are not alone. While accessing accurate information and understanding the nuances of SUDs can be overwhelming, it is crucial. Any false beliefs about addiction and treatment can make people suffering from addiction reluctant to seek help.
This article will debunk five myths that might be hindering your understanding and journey toward overcoming substance use.
Myth #1: Addiction Is a Choice
Many assume that addiction boils down to someone making a bad decision to start abusing substances. However, the initial decision to try drugs or alcohol does not condemn someone to addiction.
Genetics, existing mental health conditions, trauma, and early exposure to substances all influence a person’s likelihood of developing substance use disorder. Research confirms that addiction changes brain chemistry, affecting decision-making and impulse control. This alteration isn’t a matter of choice. Rather, it’s a result of the brain’s response to prolonged substance use, impacting emotions, judgment, and rational thinking.
Portraying addiction as simply being a “choice” fails to capture its complex, chronic nature and promotes harmful stereotypes. Understand that addiction is a disease requiring treatment, rather than a moral failure.
Myth #2: Once an Addict, Always an Addict
Another common myth is that once someone is addicted, they will always be an addict, even if they stop using substances.
This myth paints a hopeless picture of recovery and maintaining long-term sobriety. In reality, while addiction may always require some degree of management, many people achieve full, stable recovery. With proper treatment, commitment to lifestyle changes, social support, and tools to prevent relapse, those in recovery can achieve long-term sobriety and enjoy purposeful lives.
Look at famous personalities like Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Daniel Radcliffe, Oprah Winfrey, the author Stephen King, and Michael Phelps. All these individuals were once diagnosed and in rehab for their addictions. Now, everyone across the world acknowledges them and considers them to be heroes.
Myth #3: Treatment Means Months of Inpatient Rehab
Many people still believe that overcoming addiction requires uprooting one’s life for weeks or months of intensive inpatient rehab.
While inpatient treatment might be necessary for severe cases, outpatient programs, counseling, support groups, and medications enable many to receive effective treatment at home. The key is finding the fit that aligns with individual needs and circumstances.
And, thanks to the latest advancements in technology, healthcare providers can now effectively manage, track progress, and coordinate your treatment with other providers.
One such tech that plays a key role in rehab is a substance use EHR (Electronic Health Record). It helps maintain and optimize the clinic workflow. It does so by automating administrative processes, customizing workflows, leveraging cloud-based technology, and providing secure collaboration and communication features.
Moreover, it also provides healthcare providers with secure access to the patient’s records and a way to share them with other professionals without having the patients worry about the paperwork.
So, yes, addiction treatment works! And, as Accumedic Computer Systems puts it, technology just helps increase its efficiency.
Don’t let any misconceptions or assumptions stop you from exploring options that might improve your life.
Myth #4: Relapse Means Treatment Failure
When someone relapses after addiction treatment, it’s common to view it as a failure and proof that treatment didn’t work.
However, relapse is common on the road to recovery. Nearly 40-60% of those treated for substance use disorders relapse at some point. This number is lower when compared to relapse related to asthma and high blood pressure, where the rate is about 50%–70%. This doesn’t mean treatment was ineffective. Recovery is a long process that often involves setbacks.
The skills and support gained in treatment equip people to better manage triggers, minimize relapse, and get back on track. View relapse as a signal, that more support is needed, and not as a failure. With compassion and adjusted treatment, relapse can be overcome to continue working towards lasting sobriety.
Remember, recovery is a marathon and not a sprint!
Myth #5: Addicts Have to Hit “Rock Bottom” Before They Fully Recover
Many believe addicts must experience devastating consequences before they commit to sobriety. This concept arises from the fact that a person will only be willing or able to stop their addiction when they have experienced a catastrophic loss or failure.
But, this is not the case. Rather, seeking help at any stage of addiction is valuable. Recovery isn’t contingent upon reaching a particular crisis point. It’s a personal journey that can start at any moment.
Waiting for rock bottom can delay the path to recovery. Accepting help and embracing change whenever one feels ready is pivotal in initiating and sustaining a positive transformation toward a substance-free life.
In conclusion, the path to overcoming addiction and substance abuse is complex and unique for each person.
Don’t let misconceptions cast a shadow on your or the journey of loved ones. Remember, addiction isn’t a choice but a complex disease, and recovery isn’t defined by past struggles. Treatment options are diverse, and relapse doesn’t equate to failure. Most importantly, recovery doesn’t necessitate hitting rock bottom. Embrace a proactive approach – seek help, explore treatment options, find support, and prioritize your well-being.
Every step toward seeking help matters, after all, the journey toward sobriety—is all about progress, not perfection.