Just as there are many misconceptions about what it means to be an addict, there are misconceptions about what it means to be in recovery and what the life of a recovering addict is like. These myths can be quite harmful to those who need help, as they may prevent them from seeking help or staying sober once they have completed treatment.
Knowing and understanding these myths, though, can help an addict and his or her loved ones make the recovery process successful. How many of these myths have you encountered previously?
“Finishing rehab means you’re cured.”
Perhaps the most pervasive myth about getting sober is the notion that once an addict completes rehab, he or she is cured of their addiction. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Entering a rehabilitation program for any type of addiction, whether drugs, alcohol or a behavior, is just one part of the recovery process the first step on the road to recovery. Rehabilitation provides a safe place for an addict to detox from the physical effects of substances, as well as to properly build the skills that they need to understand and live with their addiction. It is not the be-all and end-all of the recovery process though, and those who have gone through rehab (and their loved ones) need to understand that the healing continues, even after they walk out of the rehab center’s doors.
“Relapse is inevitable – and normal.”
While it is true that most addicts have to attempt recovery several times before they successfully get sober, treating relapse as a normal part of the process is counterproductive. In some cases, addicts use the myth of the inevitable relapse as an excuse, or justification, for returning to their addictive behaviors. Instead, it’s important for addicts and their loved ones to realize that while relapse is a possibility, it’s not inevitable. Thus, it is not a reason to give up on the hard work of recovery.
“Recovery is about feeling deprived of the things you once loved.”
People become addicted to substances or harmful behaviors because they like the euphoria and the good feelings that come with whatever they are doing. They use to dull the pain of their feelings, handle the stress of life and, in some cases, just to have fun. And while addiction is certainly a physical issue, the psychological fear of giving up those good feelings can impede addicts from seeking help or staying sober. During the early days of recovery, it’s possible for addicts to have feelings of deprivation, of not having the things they enjoy, but the fact is that once addicts become firmly rooted in their recovery and stay on track, they rarely think about their addiction. Instead, they focus their attention on other, healthier, things.
“Being sober is boring.”
There’s no denying that staying sober means that an addict has to avoid certain situations that could lead to a relapse, especially in the early days of recovery. This often means staying away from people and places that were instrumental in the addiction in the first place. And because recovery often means developing routines and a focus on a healthy lifestyle, many people believe that recovery is dull, with each day just a repeat of the one before. However, it’s important for recovering addicts to understand that part of recovery is finding new passions and activities to pursue. Those who have maintained sobriety for many years actually have very fulfilling and interesting lives.
“Recovery means embracing religion.”
One common reason that addicts avoid rehab and 12-step recovery programs is that they don’t believe in God or organized religion. They fear that the program will force them to do so, as part of their recovery. While it’s certainly true that many programs stress spirituality, believing in God is not a requirement; in fact, there is a vast difference between religion and spirituality. You can choose between faith-based or non-denominational programs, and seek recovery on your own terms.
“There’s one path to recovery.”
Just like there are many varied stories of addiction, there are numerous paths to recovery. What works for one person may not be right for another and vice versa. The best rehabilitation programs focus on the individual, tailoring programs to meet their custom needs. Some addicts may need a longer stint in rehab, while others do best with regular support group meetings. The most important thing for those supporting a recovering addict to remember is that they need to support and encourage their loved one; they must understand that what worked for one person may not be the best for others.
Knowing and understanding the most common myths about recovery and sobriety can help prevent the spread of misunderstandings. Help an addict and his or her support team better understand the recovery process and ensure a successful outcome.