Barriers to Recovery
It’s an unfortunate truth that stereotypes, preconceptions, and myths surround addiction and recovery. While we generally subscribe to the idea that what others think of us is none of our business, it’s also true that these same myths are keeping people from getting the help they so desperately need. These old notions aren’t just annoying posts on social media – they’re dangerous misinformation. Here are a few of the most common addiction myths.
“Addiction is a choice.”
Let’s get the most enduring and the most damaging out of the way first. Addiction is a disease of the brain and researchers believe that it involves both genetic and environmental components. I know there are still folks out there – even in 2019 – who will argue, “Drug addicts chose to use that drug. They knew the risks.” And it is a choice to use a drug the first time. But scientists don’t yet know why or when exactly an addiction develops. And no one chooses the trauma, abuse, neglect, family history of substance abuse, or any of the other precursors to addiction any more than they choose the addiction itself.
“Addiction is just a lack of willpower.”
Those who say this have probably never witnessed the lengths an addict will go to procure their substance of choice. Our willpower is just fine – in some cases, maybe a little too amped. Again, it’s a brain disease. All paths in the addicted brain point to a particular drug. “Strengthening your willpower” or however the bootstraps folks expect a “cure” for addiction can help, sure. But basing a “cure” on willpower alone is an attempt to fix a broken machine by using the same broken machine. It doesn’t make much sense.
“I’m obviously not an addict/alcoholic. I have a house/car/great job/etc.”
We don’t hear this one quite as much anymore as the opioid epidemic is forcing middle America to take a much closer look at themselves. However, old myths die as hard as old habits and they can still be barriers for those who need help. The truth is that we’ve seen the disease in Fortune 500 executives, homeless folks, police officers, and star quarterbacks. Addiction doesn’t care about your bank account or your standing in the community.
“They’re just not ready for recovery yet.”
An even worse variation of this is that someone is “hopeless”. I hear these far too often in the recovery community from folks who really ought to know better. If someone “isn’t ready” for recovery, it’s our job as treatment professionals and recovering addicts ourselves to help show them how to be ready and to never give up hope.
While addiction is a chronic disease, it is treatable. Cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapy, group therapy, counseling, exercise, and nutrition are all effective strategies in treating the disease of addiction. And all are cornerstones of Ocean Recovery’s addiction treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, please give us a call today and start building your foundation for success.