7 Common Misconceptions About Addiction Treatment and Recovery

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Addiction, treatment, and recovery have gotten a lot more public attention in recent years because of the opioid crisis. Most Americans now know someone who has been affected by addiction. However, relatively few people get the treatment they need, and perhaps that’s why so many misconceptions about treatment persist. These misconceptions can get in the way of people seeking help or seeking the right kind of help. The following are some common misconceptions about addiction treatment and recovery.

You Have to Hit Rock Bottom Before Treatment Will Work

This is perhaps the most persistent and dangerous misconception about treatment and recovery. In 2018, more than 67,000 people died of drug overdoses, and each year, about 88,000 people die of alcohol-related causes. If you wait for some rock-bottom moment, it may be too late.

Nearly everyone who enters treatment for addiction feels ambivalent about it at first. Change is always hard and changing addictive behavior is especially hard. However, treatment can work even if you aren’t especially motivated at first. For example, more than 120,000 Americans enter treatment as a result of drug court agreements each year. Many of these people don’t particularly want to get sober; they mainly want to stay out of prison. Nevertheless, people who get treatment through drug courts have outcomes comparable to people who seek treatment voluntarily. You typically find motivation as you go.

Treatment Is Too Expensive

Many people assume that addiction treatment, especially inpatient treatment is only for the rich and famous. However, treatment is often more affordable than you would think. First, there are many levels of care, from seeing a therapist to several months in inpatient treatment, all at different prices. Even if you can’t afford the level of care you think you need, getting whatever care you can afford is at least a step in the right direction.

Also, there are now many ways to pay for treatment. Most insurance will cover at least some level of treatment and most treatment programs accept several kinds of insurance. And recent changes to the law allow for money from federal programs to pay for more treatment options. Before you assume you can’t afford treatment, call a few programs, and see if they can help you out.

Detox Is All You Really Need

Detox can sometimes be brutal. If you are detoxing from opioids, you might be in for a week of symptoms that are like the worst flu you’ve ever had. If you’re detoxing from a serious alcohol problem, you may get DTs, which can be fatal in a small percentage of cases. Fear of detox often keeps people using. However, detox is only the first hurdle. The challenges that follow are often more subtle and complex. A strong recovery entails treating any co-occurring mental health issues, learning new coping skills, building a sober network, and creating a solid recovery plan. Detox can help you get past the first big challenge of recovery but unless you have a plan for moving forward, you’ll just have to detox again before you know it.

All Treatment Programs Are Pretty Much the Same

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are more than 14,000 addiction treatment centers in the US. These vary considerably in both quality and approach to treatment. Surprisingly few programs use evidence-based methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and other methods that studies show actually help people recover from addiction and co-occurring mental health issues. What’s more, even quality programs differ considerably in their approach. Some only treat men or women, some focus on younger clients or divide clients by age, some focus on wellness or holistic treatment, and so on. It’s important to find a program that is both high-quality and a good fit.

If Treatment Didn’t Work Last Time, Then It Won’t Work This Time

As noted above, there are a lot of treatment programs in the US and they vary a lot by quality and approach. Unfortunately, most of these programs are mediocre at best and if you picked a treatment program more or less at random, it’s likely you didn’t get a good one. Even if you did find a quality program and one that’s a good fit for you, success isn’t guaranteed. Some people don’t get the support they need to transition back to regular life, so even if they do well in treatment, their recovery may not last long. Sometimes another stint in treatment can improve your chances of success.

Treatment Will Cure Your Addiction

Treatment is a great start to recovery but it’s important to remember that addiction is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Inpatient treatment will provide a change in the environment, help you learn some valuable recovery skills, and start addressing any mental health issues, but ultimately, you also need a long-term plan. Transitional care is key. This includes things like stepping down to a lower level of care, finding a good therapist, creating a support structure, and possibly even a sober-living arrangement to help you ease back into regular life.

Relapse Means Failure

Relapse is serious and should be avoided if at all possible. Not only is relapse discouraging but it puts you at much greater risk of overdose. However, if you do relapse, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Many people relapse several times before they ultimately succeed in staying sober. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and try again.

A lot goes into a successful recovery from addiction. It’s no wonder that misconceptions are so common. The right treatment program and transitional support can make all the difference for some people, especially those who have had trouble with relapsing in the past.

At Hired Power, we provide transitional services such as sober assistants, sober monitoring, and case management to help keep you on track after treatment. For more information about our services, call us at 714-559-3919.