Sorting Out Myths about Rehab

There are plenty of myths and stereotypes surrounding drug and alcohol addiction and rehab, and often, those misconceptions can stand in the way of recovery.

The most common myths, along with some indisputable facts

Treatment isn’t effective until you hit rock bottom. Many people hit rock bottom in the form of broken relationships, legal difficulties, damaged health or lost employment, but it isn’t necessary to bottom out to be successful in treatment. In fact, the sooner you get into treatment, the quicker you can get your life back on track. Addiction only gets worse with time, and sometimes, rock bottom can be too late.

Treatment doesn’t work. Treatment isn’t 100 percent effective, but it works for many people. In some cases, recovery requires more than one attempt, but repeated stints in treatment shouldn’t be considered a failure. According to NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse), most people who complete treatment stop using drugs and improve occupational, psychological and social functioning.

Withdrawal is miserable. It’s true that withdrawal from drugs or alcohol is no fun. However, a qualified treatment center or detox facility can prescribe medications that ease cravings and relieve the difficult symptoms of withdrawal. Never attempt to stop using drugs and alcohol on your own; quitting “cold turkey” is extremely difficult and can be dangerous.

Treatment is too expensive. Again, it’s true that quality treatment can be expensive. However, treatment is generally available for anyone who needs it. Some treatment centers and rehabs provide full or partial scholarships, while others offer affordable payment plans or costs based on income. If you have insurance, it will cover part or all of your treatment. Many employers offer treatment plans for employees.

Mandated treatment never works. This myth sounds logical, but in reality, even people who are highly resistant to the idea of treatment, or those who are coerced by the law, employers or family members can be successful in treatment.

Treatment can cure my addiction. Addiction is a chronic brain disease that occurs after repeated use of drugs or alcohol. Like many chronic diseases, addiction is incurable but highly treatable. Addiction treatment or rehab can help addicts learn to manage the disease and acquire strategies to deal with life’s difficulties without relying on substances.

Relapse is a sign of failure. Relapse is always a possibility, but it isn’t a sign of failure. According to NIDA, the rate of relapse is similar to those for other chronic medical conditions, including high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes. Lapses are an indication that more treatment is needed or that the treatment plan needs to be changed or adjusted. In some cases, medications can help with cravings that frequently lead to relapse.

I’m too old for treatment. Drug and alcohol treatment can help people at any age, and it’s never too late. Unfortunately, addiction among the elderly often goes unrecognized and untreated, but once treatment begins, older folks are just as successful as their younger counterparts. However, treatment for older adults should be specialized to suit their particular needs.

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