Excessive use of destructive substances — whether those are opioids, illegal drugs, alcohol, pain medication, etc. — can quickly reduce self-confidence and cripple productivity. Worse, substance use practices can impair social and familial relationships, damage internal wellness and compromise long-term health.
Individuals seeking help in addressing their substance use habits often face an uphill battle. Even after admitting that they need help, and asking friends and family members for support, they need to commit to their goal of receiving appropriate treatment.
The stigma surrounding substance use practices doesn’t make this process any easier. From incorrect definitions of substance use to unrealistic expectations of detox and treatment, public disinformation does anyone struggling with substance use habits a disservice. For this reason, it’s time to address and debunk some of the common myths about addiction.
Myth: All you need to do to overcome addiction is believe in yourself
This is one of the most popular myths regarding substance use habits today: if you’re looking to overcome substance use practices, all you need to do is decide to do it.
Here’s the truth: while willpower does play a valuable role, many individuals need far more than a determined mind to reach and maintain recovery.
Substance use habits, especially those which have gone on for long periods of time, can actually change the way the brain functions and perceives information. The more developed the substance use practice, the stronger the pull to use substances; a brain inundated with a drug is a brain incapable of viewing it as a negative thing.
Often, it’s actually the onset of withdrawal symptoms that can drive individuals to return to substance use habits. In these moments, logically deciding to quit isn’t a realistic option, given how intense withdrawal effects can be. Treatment programs are often required to help individuals challenged with substance use practices break free of their respective habits.
Myth: People who have developed substance use habits are weak
There’s also a common misconception that individuals suffering from substance use habits are somehow weaker than those individuals without the same challenges. This myth couldn’t be further from reality.
Here’s the truth: There are many factors that contribute to the development of substance use practices, but everyone challenged with substance use shares a similarity — they would quit if they could.
Some individuals who face substance use challenges are using substances as an outlet for unhealthy self-medication. Others may participate in substance use practices because of underlying behavioral or mental health issues. Still, others who experience substance use habits are affected by genetic predispositions to self-destructive drug or alcohol use. No matter why individuals use substances, weakness alone does not drive someone toward isolated, repeated or chronic substance use.
Myth: Substance use habits really only affect lower-income demographics
Another popular misconception surrounding substance use habits is its “target demographic,” as if substance use itself was responsible for choosing which individuals participate.
Here’s the truth: Substance use habits don’t play favorites. They can affect anyone, at any time, in any place, regardless of income, gender, social status or demographic. Substance use habits have proven effective in disrupting every level of society, without exception.
This isn’t to discredit the fact that specific demographics might find themselves more predisposed to substance use issues. However, substance use ultimately draws no line between incomes. While the method of substance acquisition might differ (sometimes significantly) between members of income brackets, the short and long-term effects of substance use challenges remain painfully the same.
Myth: Individuals struggling with substance abuse won’t seek help until they hit “rock bottom”
So many people are under the notion that people struggling with addiction neglect help until they hit “rock bottom.”
Here’s the truth: many individuals facing substance use challenges choose to get help well before they approach a critical point in their dependence.
It’s certainly a mistake to assume, or to claim, that individuals facing substance use habits will wait until the advanced stages of addiction before seeking help. On the contrary large percentages of those affected by substances choose to take productive steps toward recovery in order to avoid hitting anything like rock bottom. Much of this initiative can be credited to the positive efforts of friends, family members, peers and even employers, who provide ongoing support and encouragement to motivate their loved ones toward sustained recovery.
Myth: Substance use treatment doesn’t work
And finally, there is sadly a large number of people, some of whom are adversely affected by substance use habits, who believe that treatment for drug and alcohol use simply doesn’t work.
Here’s the truth: Substance use treatment does work, but the individual seeking treatment needs to commit to the treatment program to fully see success. Through a combination of personalized therapy, FDA-approved medication and treatment tailored to the individuals’ personal needs, substance use treatment can absolutely help people distance themselves from self-destructive habits and change their life for the better.
Get the help you need
Nestled in gorgeous Asheville, North Carolina, Real Recovery offers the clinical services you need to take back your freedom and your life. Our partial hospitalization and intensive inpatient and outpatient programs offer a host of passionate, professional clinicians and healthcare professionals dedicated to your lasting well-being. We deploy evidence-based approaches to provide substance use treatment programs that yield a lasting impact on your health and happiness.