Myths About Drug Treatment

Myth #1: Drug addiction is voluntary behavior that reflects a character flaw.
FACT: The first time a person uses a drug for a recreational or other unapproved purpose, he is making a conscious decision – but for some people, that initial involvement triggers internal changes that manifest themselves as a compulsion or irresistible urge to ingest additional quantities of the substance. Simply put, addiction is a disease of the brain that causes a loss of control and an uncontrollable desire to engage in a decidedly unhealthy behavior. Individuals who are addicted to drugs are neither weak nor immoral – they are afflicted with a very real disease that, if left untreated, is likely to ruin (or end) their lives.

Myth #2: Interventions don’t work. An addict has to reach the decision to get help on her own.
FACT: In an ideal situation, a person who is struggling with substance abuse or addiction would realize the error of her ways, and opt to enter treatment before she inflicts any lasting damage on her life or the lives of those who love and care about her. But in reality it doesn’t often work that way. The two most common motivations for entering drug treatment are being urged by a loved one or being ordered by a court. Several studies have documented that these “forced” situations can lead to successful rehabilitation and lasting recovery. If someone you care about it struggling with an addiction, your input can lead to life-saving changes.

MYTH #3: An addict or alcoholic has to hit “rock bottom” before he can enter treatment and begin the recovery process.
FACT: Hitting rock bottom makes for a dramatic scene in a film or television show, but in the real world people don’t need to lose everything before they can begin the walk back toward a healthier and happier life. For example, young people whose misuse of drugs leads to abuse and then addiction can be helped before their actions wreak irreversible damage on their lives – and adults who are struggling with the early stages of addiction can get clean before they have suffered any more. If you or someone you know is experiencing a problem with alcohol or another drug, don’t wait until things get worse: Get help today.

Myth #4: Experiencing a relapse means that treatment has failed
FACT: The vast majority of people who enter treatment do so in the hope that they can rid themselves of their drug-seeking compulsions. And though some do experience long-term success after their first involvement with a treatment program, many unfortunately will experience relapses, and others will need to return to treatment. Yet rather than brand each step as a “failure” if it doesn’t lead to lifelong sobriety, it is important to realize that each exposure to professional drug treatment can provide the skills, strategies, and motivations that will enable a recovering individual to overcome the inevitable stumbles that he will encounter on the walk back from an addictive lifestyle.

Myth #5: Until a “magic bullet” is discovered to end addiction, treatment programs are not going to be effective.
FACT: Though it often follows similar patterns of progression among divergent populations, addiction is an intensely personal affliction that can be affected by a wide range of internal and external factors. To ensure that a program is able to provide maximum benefit to addicted individuals, it is important that multiple approaches are available, and that treatment plans are tailored to meet the specific issues and challenges of each individual client.

Myth #6: Treatment doesn’t work. People quit drugs when they want to quit.
FACT: Right now, there are thousands of addicted individual who desperately want to be free from their compulsions, but who are unable to stop using drugs on their own. And there are also thousands of formerly addicted people who are pursuing life-long sobriety thanks to the help they got from drug addiction treatment professionals. Yes, some people “kick the habit” on their own, and some folks return to drugs after completing treatment, but in the vast majority of cases, ending an addiction demands more than just desire – it requires effective treatment by trained rehabilitation and recovery personnel.

MYTH #7: If you've been to treatment and suffered a relapse, there’s no value to going back into treatment. (In other words, if it didn’t work the first time, it’s not going to work at all.)
FACT: As is also the case when attempting to treat a wide range of other diseases (and addiction is a disease, remember) finding the right approach to help someone overcome an addiction often involves more than one attempt. Not every approach is a good fit for every patient, and enrolling in a program that’s not right for you may delay your ability to achieve lasting sobriety. But giving up after one less-than-ideal treatment experience would be like refusing to take any medications because you once had a headache that didn’t immediately respond to one particular brand of aspirin. Don’t let your setbacks overwhelm your desire to get better – instead, take whatever lessons you can from every treatment experience you have, and continue to work toward finding the approach that is best for you.

Myth #8: Spending a long time in treatment means that you’re not making adequate progress
FACT: Studies show that the opposite of this myth is much closer to the truth. Researchers have discovered a direct relationship between the length of time a person remains in treatment and the likelihood that she will remain in recovery. Addicted individuals who complete long-term treatment programs are more likely to achieve long-term sobriety than are those who participate in programs that are shorter in duration.

Learning the facts and dispelling the myths of drug addiction treatment can help you take a significant step toward getting the help that you (or a loved one) needs. To have a confidential conversation with a counselor who can help you find the best drug treatment program for you or your loved one, call 866-323-5608.