Knowing facts from fiction is key when it comes to the battle against this disease.
While vast strides have been made in the awareness of and support around mental health, addiction continues to be a misunderstood subject with many misconceptions. These misunderstandings help contribute to the stigma of addiction, which is why it is essential we better understand the topic.
Here are the top 8 misconceptions about addiction and recovery:
1. Addiction is a choice and a “character flaw.”
Although it may be a choice to initially use an illicit substance, developing an addiction is not a choice. Addiction is a chronic brain disease and has little to do with someone’s moral code. Anyone, inherently good or bad, can develop a substance use disorder.
2. Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) involves trading one drug addiction for another. Willpower itself should be enough to stop addiction.
Medication for substance use disorder such as methadone and Suboxone are proven to be a safe and effective part of addiction treatment and maintaining long-term recovery. They help to level out brain chemistry and relieve intense drug cravings during withdrawal. Substance use disorder causes physical and psychological damage that makes it extremely difficult to quit substance use on your own.
3. Inpatient treatment is more effective than outpatient treatment.
Everybody’s needs for treatment are different. Someone with a job and family to take care of may prefer outpatient treatment to maintain daily routine. However, someone who lives alone and cannot manage recovery on their own may prefer to attend inpatient treatment to have extra support. Both are effective and great options depending on each person’s needs.
4. If you have a successful career and supportive family, you cannot develop an addiction.
Addiction does not discriminate. It does not matter where you come from or what you look like; anyone can develop an addiction. Some people may appear to live “normal,” happy lives when behind the scenes they are struggling with a substance use disorder.
5. You don’t need to seek help until you hit “rock bottom.”
You do not need to wait for extreme consequences to occur to receive professional help. Everyone’s version of “rock bottom” is different; for some it may mean overdosing and being revived by Narcan, and for others it could mean losing their job. No matter what your definition of “rock bottom” is, seeking help as soon as you realize you have a problem is vital.
6. Relapse is a sign of failure.
If you resume substance use after starting treatment, it can be disappointing, but it does not equal failure. Although it is not inevitable, it can happen to many people in recovery at any time. Relapse can be an indicator that more help is needed. Progress is more important than perfection.
7. Harm reduction enables continued use.
Harm reduction saves lives. Methods such as Narcan, needle exchange programs, and safe injections sites decrease overdose deaths and reduce HIV/HCV infections. Hence, reducing harm to individuals overall. In fact, most syringe services programs offer referrals to addiction treatment centers and have a high success rate of sending new patients to treatment centers.
8. Once you become addicted, you will always be addicted.
Recovery is possible. People grow and change all the time; struggling with addiction does not mean you are bound to it for the rest of your life.
Begin your recovery at one of BrightView’s outpatient addiction treatment centers
Together, we can decrease the stigma surrounding addiction and recovery. At BrightView, we want to help anyone who needs help understanding and treating substance use disorder. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please give us a call or schedule an appointment online. We treat you like a person and addiction like a disease.