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What’s an Addiction Myth? Debunking 5 Myths About Substance Abuse

What’s the Truth About Addiction Recovery?

Although addiction and substance abuse are well-known conditions, many people are still relatively uninformed about them. There are still many addiction myths that dominate our cultural understandings of them. Some myths about addiction are related to stigma, while others are simply incorrect facts. Whatever the cause, debunking each addiction myth is essential to your recovery journey.

Often times, misinformation about drug and alcohol abuse come from the ways that movies, TV shows, and music depict them. But these depictions cause more damage than good.

Ultimately, the knowledge and education surrounding addiction can make the difference in  three main ways:

  • A person’s decisions
  • Their view of themselves
  • Their understanding of how others view them

Below are five myths that will help you untangle the misconceptions of substance abuse and addiction.

Addiction Myth #1: People Struggling with Addiction Are Fundamentally “Bad”

The myth that those suffering from addiction and substance abuse are bad people often comes from cultural stereotypes. Another source may be lies a person inherited about themselves. For example, news outlets often portray addicts as intrinsically flawed criminals with no hope. If a person internalizes this narrative or believes the demeaning words of an authority figure, it can be difficult to disentangle yourself from the unhealthy thoughts.

It’s important to remember that what leads a person to substance abuse and addiction is made up of a complex combination of factors. These might include genetic predisposition, co-occurring disorders, chronic physical health conditions, and experiences of trauma. But there is not something intrinsically “bad” about the person. This overgeneralization is false and should be avoided in any conversation about addiction.

Addiction Myth #2: There’s No Need for Rehab if You’ve Detoxed

Detox is only one step in the process of recovery. It helps remove toxic substances from your body and should be medically monitored, especially in cases of severe withdrawal symptoms. Detox is often one of the first steps in recovery—which makes it important—but it’s not sustainable unless it’s combined with other treatments.

According to a 2018 study of detoxification treatments in the United States, “drug detoxification can only help manage acute withdrawals.” When it comes to long-term sobriety and sober living, other treatments are essential for a success story. The research above shows that a person who receives detox-only treatment has an increased risk of dangerous overdoses and readmissions into detox programs. Recovery is not a one-stop-shop but requires lifelong commitment to care, well-being, and wholeness. It’s essential to consider which integrative and holistic therapies might work best for you in a recovery program that you’re looking for.

Addiction Myth #3: Prescription Drugs Aren’t Dangerous—My Doctor Prescribed Them!

Although prescribed by doctors according to specific dosing instructions, the possibility of mismanagement of prescription drugs is high. This is especially true for a person in chronic or acute physical pain.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 80% of adults take one prescription medication per day and over 50% are taking five or more prescriptions daily. These high numbers make it extremely likely, if not inevitable, for the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.

Opioid-related prescription drugs are some of the most commonly misused and abused among prescribed medications. If not taken with great care, a person can become quickly dependent—even addicted—to an opiate that was prescribed for them. Some examples include:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl

Any prescribed drug should be taken with care and caution, especially if you have a personal or genetic history of substance addiction. And of course, it’s best consult with a medical professional familiar with your history. Moreover, consider other modes of healing, like cognitive behavioral therapy that addresses deeper issues that might be informing other chronic issues.

Myth #4: Recovered Addicts Won’t Ever Be Valuable Contributors to Society

The myth that addicts will never become valuable members of society is in line with addiction myth #1, that is, the myth that there’s something intrinsically wrong with someone struggling with addiction. These two misconceptions are not just harmless myths. They can be detrimental systems of thought to those on the path to recovery—and even to those who haven’t started their journey to healing yet.

There are many well-known recovered addicts. But perhaps the most well-known is Bill Wilson who, against all odds, founded Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in 1935. As a role model for support groups for those in recovery, AA and its 12-Step program has changed how people think about substance abuse and addiction. This should be an example of encouragement to every person beginning their recovery journey.

Myth #5: It’s Too Late for Me to Start Addiction Recovery

Although it may feel like, it is never too late to begin your recovery journey. Freedom from substance abuse and addiction is a process, and taking the first step can be difficult. This is all the more true if you’ve been struggling for months, years, or even decades.

But there is no reason to hold yourself back from healing, and no one can take that first step for you besides yourself. By facing your fears and reaching out for help, you open the door to infinite possibilities for your life. What might this new life of health and well-being look like for you?

Learning the Truth To Continue Healing

In order to cultivate long-term sobriety and to reintegrate into society at a meaningful level, recovery requires more than just detox or even a month in rehab. Treatments such as behavioral therapy can help a person change their habits, but it can also address underlying mental or emotional disorders such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorders.

Innovative treatment options take a holistic approach to treatment for substance abuse patterns and addiction, and should address the totality of a person’s life—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Recovery is possible for everyone. Therefore, it’s essential to address each addiction myth that might misinform or even mislead those wanting to learn more about how to get help. Reach out to a specialist at Honu House Recovery today and start your journey toward wholeness.

  • Author Profile Picture

    By John Burke

  • December 29, 2022

Learn the truth about substance abuse myths from John Burke, founder of Honu House Hawaii, a leading expert in addiction treatment.

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