5 Busted Myths You’ve Been Told About Going to Rehab
Let’s be frank for a moment: committing to going to rehab is terrifying. The anxieties associated with entering rehab are enough to make anyone second guess their decision:
- What if this doesn’t work?
- If I fail, does that mean it’s all over?
- Does this mean I’m broken?
- Are people going to judge me for needing to go to rehab?
- How am I supposed to rebuild after this?
- How am I supposed to cope with life if I can’t drink/do drugs anymore?
- Can I really live without my addiction?
On top of that, there may be people in your social circle impeding your recovery themselves. Rather they are enablers supporting the idea that you’re “not one of those people who need rehab” or those who have not yet been successful in their own attempts at sobriety, venting frustrations about their struggles in rehab, listening to others can keep you from a healthier, sober life.
There are myths which float through the circles of people addled with substance abuse and dependency disorders. These stories of the horrors and atrocities awaiting those who enter rehab are more than gossip; in their frustration and disgruntlement, those who perpetuate stories are not only crippling their own recoveries, but effectively thwarting others’ attempts to leave addiction behind.
Don’t let the stories obstruct your growth and renewal. Here are 5 busted myths you’ve been told about going to rehab.
Detox is Going to Be Long and Painful
Perhaps one of the leading causes of hesitation in seeking addiction recovery services is fear of a painful, drawn out detoxification process. When under the influence of a substance abuse disorder, one becomes intimately aware of the physical effects of withdrawal. Lapses in drug use or alcohol lead to a number of symptoms such a chills, muscle spasms and aches, and more serious health effects.
The pain can be unbearable, even fatal. It’s the kind of thing anyone would avoid at all costs.
But that’s exactly why you should turn to rehab for help.
Medically-assisted detox programs use medication to temper the effects of withdrawal while the body purges itself of the toxins of illicit substances. Today there is no reason to suffer through the pain of abstinence withdrawal symptoms.
Though some who oppose the detoxification method, claiming it extends addiction, those fears are unfounded. Non-addictive medications which produce no high are used over the shortest period of time to aid the body in weening off of the addictive substance. Medical assistance through the withdrawal process makes it easier than ever to return to a life of sobriety.
Rehab and Therapy is For Weak People
Nothing could be farther from the truth than this myth! It takes a special type of inner fortitude to recognize and admit when drugs and alcohol have become a problem; it takes even more tenacity to give yourself over to the help which awaits in rehab.
The idea that people in recovery must be weak makes no logical sense, either. The ability to open one’s self in the way true revitalization requires stems from a quiet inner strength which many people don’t realize they have. Through intensive therapies and self-realization, people in recovery rebuild their lives on a foundation of new-found strength and resolve.
Accepting the tools one learns in rehab and using them to remain on a sober path helps build self-confidence and bolster self-worth. Though no one can truly walk your journey for you, leaning on those with the skills to teach appropriate, healthy coping mechanisms is not weakness; it is the first step to learning to live without the crutches of substance abuse.
Don’t allow stigmatization to trap you in a life of misery and suffering. There is nothing weak or cowardly in seeking and accepting the help you need to live a happier, more peaceful life. Allowing others to dictate your quality of life based on misinformed assumptions will only lead to more trouble and heartache and misery.
Therapy is Only For People Who Have Hit Rock Bottom
I’ve written twice before why you should never wait for ‘rock bottom’ before seeking rehabilitation. Not only is the concept of ‘rock bottom’ questionable in itself because of its dubious definition and the unfortunate potential that death will proceed it. The idea that some invisible line exists and so long as you are on one side of it, all is well is a dangerous thing. It supports the enabling notion that functional addiction is “not really addiction.”
The reality is most people who experience substance abuse disorders are working citizens supporting themselves or families. The stereotype that they are lazy, unmotivated, or otherwise not valuable members of society is a myth which has done nothing but harm the way we look at substance abuse disorders. Addiction is a disease, not a choice. The idea that therapy and rehab are only for people who hit rock bottom deflects from the reality that, like other chronic diseases, left unchecked, addiction can be life-threatening.
Early intervention with substance abuse disorders can not only lessen the physical effects of addiction, it can also lead to the resolution of underlying causes of addiction such as psychological trauma and mental health issues.
You Don’t Need Rehab- Addiction Recovery is as Simple as Quitting
For those who have never struggled with substance abuse, recovery seems as simple as abstaining from using drugs or drinking. This is supported by the idea that substance abuse is a choice and that those who suffer from addiction simply do not want to stop using their chosen substance. This is simply not true.
Evidence shows that addiction causes physical and chemical changes in the brain. These changes can effect anything from fine motor skills to personality traits to the ability to feel happiness and pleasure. Once one begins to understand these very real and serious physical changes brought on by addiction, one is more easily able to understand that addiction goes beyond simply enjoying drinking or drug use.
In the same sense, one must understand that substance abuse recovery works much the same way. Therapists, doctors, nurses, and behavioral tech staff members are not simply here to stop you from getting high or drunk; they are part of a team whose main objective is repairing the psychological damages caused by substance abuse disorders. When one is under the control of an addicted mind, priorities change; positive reinforcement in substance use leads the mind to affiliate drugs and alcohol with pleasure or, at the very least, an escape from stresses and pain.
This is only the beginning of addiction, as soon physical demands and urges take over as the driving factor behind continued use of illicit substances. In detox the objective is to break those physical ties to the addictive substance; rehab is for severing the psychological ties and reaffirming new, positive ones. Cognitive behavioral therapies work by reteaching the proper way of coping with life’s stresses and distresses without the aid of drugs or alcohol.
Rehab Doesn’t Fix Anything, All They Care About is Money
This particular myth is usually the result of frustrations caused by an unsuccessful attempt at rehab. Feeling as though you have ‘failed’ in addiction recovery is definitely discouraging, but lashing out at rehabilitation services in a whole is a reaction to those tumultuous feelings, not a reflection of rehab. The most common causes of unsuccessful recovery attempts are:
- Being closed to therapy attempts
- Not taking the process seriously
- A breakdown in communication
- Testing one’s boundaries concerning substance use
- Not being ready to fully relinquish your addiction
- Lack of thorough exploration of triggers and underlying causes
- Straying from treatment programs
- Leaving rehab too early
- Expectations that rehab is a cure
Be that as it may, this is in no way discounting that some people truly do have horrible experiences in rehab. Again, this isn’t a reflection of addiction recovery as a whole; what this means is the methods used were ineffective in that particular case. Substance abuse recovery is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ deal; everyone has different causes for the disorder and different methods which work in their favor. That one is uneffective does not necessarily reflect poorly on that rehab, just as it does not mean you will never succeed. Chronic diseases require individualized care and continuous work; sometimes hiccups are simply a part of the journey.
Relapse happens. It doesn’t have to, but if it does, know that it is for no other reason than that addiction is a devious, deceptive creature. Recovery is a continuous battle- one that may get easier as the days go by, but a continuous battle none the less. The upside is you don’t have to do it alone. Don’t let a few myths keep you from getting the help you need in order to live the life you deserve.
What other myths about rehab do you want to see debunked? Let us know in the comments!
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About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.