7 Misconceptions About Alcohol and Drug Addiction

Recovery from addiction is a long process, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to getting clean and staying clean. But when your friends or family members area struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, you may want to see them get help. While there are ways to have a therapeutic intervention, it’s important that you don’t believe the lies you’ve heard about addiction and going to rehab. In this article, you’ll learn some of the most common misconceptions about addiction—and some tips on how to help your loved one get the treatment they need.

Myth: Alcoholism and Addiction are the Exact Same Thing

One misconception is that alcoholism and addiction are the same thing. While they are similar, there is more to alcoholism that goes beyond addiction. Alcoholism requires medical treatment because users become physically dependent on alcohol. So much so, that if they don’t get it, they can have seizures and could even die. Addicts, while they have a compulsive need to consume drugs, alcohol, food, cigarettes, etc. don’t necessarily have quite the level of dependence as someone with alcoholism. Addiction is a behavior, while alcoholism denotes a physical need.

Myth: Once You’re an Addict, You’re Always an Addict

Recovery is a process, not an event. Recovery is about learning new ways of thinking and behaving that support your long-term goals for sobriety. While many people can sober up, if they don’t change their patterns of thinking and their behaviors, they will find themselves going back to alcohol or drugs, or transferring their addiction elsewhere. Many times, especially in the early days of recovery, relapses are normal. But with the help of treatment centers like New Directions for Women at NewDirectionsForWomen.org, many addicts are able to overcome and live a sober life. As an addict does the work to change their mindset, these relapses become less common, and they truly enter into recovery and can get to a healthy place in life.  

Myth: You Must Hit Rock Bottom to Recover

The truth is that at any time an addict can choose to get help. They don’t need to wait until they have a criminal record, their family has left because of their destructive behaviors, or they are in the hospital needing a transplant. Many people believe that they must hit rock bottom before they can recover from addiction, but this isn’t true. There are many people who stop using drugs and alcohol without ever getting to such drastic places in their lives.

Myth: People Who Relapse Won’t Ever be Able to Quit

Addiction can be very difficult to overcome. But many people have a few relapses before recovery sticks. This means that the road can be very bumpy at first. As they work through their mindset, trauma, hurts, and experiences in their life, they will also learn healthier coping mechanisms that help them to walk in recovery long-term. While a former addict should be on a lifelong path of growth, healing, and working through their issues, they do need to stay mindful of the people and places that can lead them to spiral into a relapse.

Myth: Talk Therapy is a Waste of Time

Therapy is a very useful part of recovery. It allows you to understand what happened in your life that led you to the place you are right now. Talk therapy can help you understand your addiction better and learn tools to overcome it. Additionally, trauma-informed therapy can help you get healing for painful parts of your life.  A good therapist will help you to identify triggers that lead to substance use, which is an important part of recovery.

Myth: It Never Pays to be Nice or Honest With Rehab or Parole Officers

It’s true that many people who work in the criminal justice system are not nice, honest, or helpful. But it’s also true that many rehab and parole officers want to see you succeed. They know you have a better chance of staying out of jail if you stay sober. This means that they’re happy to help you get into treatment, find housing, get employment, and other services if you need it.

Myth: People in Recovery Have no Fun

Recovery is a process of rediscovering yourself. While you may no longer go partying or spend your time at bars, you can still have a fun and fulfilling life. Recovery is about learning how to live without addiction. You’ll reconnect with safe family members, and learn to find fulfillment in hobbies, volunteering, and other means. Life is more satisfying when you are sober enough to enjoy it.

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