Addiction is a complicated disease that is frequently misunderstood. These misunderstandings can easily lead to beliefs and behaviors that make it harder for family, friends, and loved ones of substance abusers to help them. Moreover, these same misunderstandings can lead family and friends to blame themselves or engage in unhealthy behaviors or relationships. Understanding addiction, and these five top myths of addiction and recovery, is the first step to successfully fighting it, whether one is abusing substances themselves or is the loved one of someone who is.
1) It’s All About Willpower
Many people believe that beating drug addiction is as simple as demonstrating enough willpower, and that substance abusers are just lazy or weak. These beliefs can be even more common when the addicted person is a family member or loved one who has hurt those closest to them because of an addiction. However, the prevailing medical consensus is that addiction is a disease that physically changes the mind of those it touches. While personal agency and responsibility are important, it is also important to remember that addiction often requires professional help and multiple attempts at recovery before it can be deemed a success.
2) Relapse Is A Failure of Recovery
Relapse is an obstacle to recovery, but it is not the end. “Relapse” is seen as a dirty word. The reasons are obvious – recovery is about abstaining from drugs or alcohol, and relapse involves the risk of falling back into destructive habits and behaviors that one thought were left behind. However, as important as it is to focus on relapse prevention, one should also recognize how common relapse is and have strategies in place to deal with it effectively should it occur. Relapse is not the time to give up or conclude that treatment has failed – it’s time to redouble efforts, look at the situations or challenges that led to relapse, and find ways to alter treatment to address these roadblocks to recovery.
3) Addiction Means You’ve Failed as a Loved One
Often, family members and friends blame themselves for a loved one’s addiction. If only they had done something differently, the logic goes – been a better parent, a better sibling, a better friend – then maybe this wouldn’t have happened. Countless factors contribute to the likelihood of drug addiction, from genetics, to the people a person surrounds themselves with, to economic, social, and biological reasons. Blaming oneself does nothing to help the situation. Instead, arming oneself with the knowledge and tools to help the addicted person, whether in the form of holding an intervention, discontinuing enabling behaviors, or working on one’s relationship with the addicted person, can help the person move toward recovery.
4) Addiction Can Be Treated in Isolation
People often have a tendency to view addiction in isolation. If addiction can be “cured”, they figure, then all the other problems in a person’s life will follow suit. It’s crucial to recognize, however, the ways in which co-occurring mental disorders, such as anxiety or depression can feed into a person’s addiction and worsen recovery outcomes. Trying to treat addiction without treating underlying emotional or mental issues, such as unresolved trauma, can be like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound. It is vital to seek professional help and to find treatment that views and treats addiction and co-occurring mental illness as related.
5) Addiction Always Looks the Same
It’s easy to get an exaggerated idea of what drug addiction looks like from the news, media, and other popular depictions. The stereotypical addicted person is homeless, unable to hold down a job, has obvious physical manifestations of their drug habit, and behaves erratically more often than not. While any number of these can be the case, some people suffering from addiction appear perfectly “normal” from the outside and don’t even realize it themselves. People who overmedicate for chronic pain, drink in isolation on weekends, or overindulge in party drugs can still hold down jobs and appear to function normally. It’s important for family and loved ones to pay attention to key addiction behaviors, and be familiar enough with friends and family to tell if something is wrong.
Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire offers numerous facilities providing a spectrum of professional care, from medical detox to inpatient drug rehab to sober living. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction to alcohol or drugs, we can help. Our unique blend of 12-step work with proven clinical modalities ensures that you have a structured plan for recovery that is reinforced with therapy, life skills training, multiple forms of active recovery, and community. We will give you or your loved one the tools to beat drug addiction and achieve sustained recovery. Call our admissions specialists today. We can help. Call 855.712.7784.