Deciding to become sober is a huge decision and choosing a recovery center is an important life-impacting decision. With so many misconceptions, stereotypes, stigma, and myths that surround alcohol addiction and recovery, research is necessary.
Despite the many myths about addiction that exist, lots of people choose recovery and lots of people are successful in their journey. Lets debunk the most common recovery myths.
Myth #1: Addiction is a Choice
This is probably the most popular misconception. The American Psychiatry Association refers to addiction as a brain disease. The wiring in your brain literally changes. This causes intense demand from the body to use the substance again. In short, addiction is not a choice. People cannot just get stronger or gain the willpower to stop drinking. It becomes just as important to the individual as food and water are.
Brain imaging studies show changes in the areas of the brain that relate to decision making, learning, memory, judgment, and behavior control.
Alcoholics struggle to get and remain sober not because their wills are weak but because they have a disease that takes over their life. The correct response to someone who is struggling with alcohol abuse is not judgment. It’s actually the opposite; it’s treatment and encouragement.
Myth #2: I Will Lose My Job
If you are a struggling addict, chances are your boss and coworkers already know. If the addiction continues or gets worse, you may lose your job if you don’t seek help.
Many companies would prefer helping an employee than losing one. It is essentially cheaper and better for morale. It is very likely that your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs address a wide-range and complex body of issues that affect emotional and mental well-being, such as alcohol and substance abuse along with other disorders.
If you choose to use your company’s EAP, your boss doesn’t necessarily have to know that you are seeking help. If there are problems at work due to alcohol abuse, your boss may refer you to an EAP and become more involved in monitoring your recovery.
Another option you have is to check your coverage under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under this act, employees have 12 workweeks of job-protected, unpaid leave in a 12-month period for “a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job.”
Myth #3: You Must Hit “Rock Bottom” Before Getting Help
The first problem with the mindset of needing to hit rock bottom before seeking treatment is that “rock bottom” is such a vague term. There are not definitive bounds to distinguish what rock bottom is for each individual struggling with alcohol addiction.
The rock bottom myth is a dangerous one. Alcohol addiction is a progressive disease and waiting to hit rock bottom can result in permanent bodily injury and possibly death.
Anyone can benefit from being in a recovery program; it’s all about finding the right fit for your individual needs. You do not have to hit rock bottom in order to change your life, better yourself, and quit alcohol.
Myth #4: People in Recovery Can’t Hang Out in Places Where Alcohol is Served
Everyone’s recovery journey is different. Yes, some people may not feel comfortable around alcohol, but that is a personal choice, not a necessity to remain sober.
Each person in recovery decides what events they want to attend, how long they want to stay, and what boundaries they create for their own sobriety. If people in recovery avoided alcohol indefinitely, they would end up missing most social events for the rest of their lives. Restaurants and nightclubs do serve a variety of nonalcoholic drinks.
Most people who are seeking sobriety state that they have a renewed gratefulness for life and enjoy making the most of their time.
Myth #5: Rehab Will Make You So Sick, You’ll Be Miserable
The truth is, recovery isn’t easy. If it was, people wouldn’t suffer from addiction. Going through treatment in a sober living environment and participating in group and individual therapy, all have positive impacts on your recovery.
Detox is generally the first step in addiction recovery. The detoxification process clears alcohol from your system. Medically supervised detox can ease the side effects of withdrawal symptoms. However, detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself, does almost nothing to change the behaviors of alcoholism.
Keep in mind that the withdrawal phase won’t last forever or even for a long period of time. The average duration of detox is approximately 7 to 10 days. This is a reasonably short period of discomfort compared to healing and recovery that can save your life.
Detoxing is much safer in the care of trained medical professionals. The medical staff has the ability to monitor your vital signs and provide any necessary treatment should any serious complications arise.
The staff at treatment centers work to make you feel as comfortable as possible.
Myth #6: Successful Sobriety Includes AA
You may have heard that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the main treatment path of alcohol use disorder; although that is true, the recovery community is huge and is not limited to one single way of doing things. There are numerous options when it comes to choosing support.
Alcohol Anonymous can be very beneficial for some people but it’s not the cure-all for addiction.
You are sober when you refrain from alcohol, however, you choose to do that is up to you.
Addiction Recovery is More than Myth
Myths about alcoholism and recovery often inhibit people from getting help, either because they feel they do not fit the profile of an alcoholic or because they feel so discouraged and truly believe they can never get sober.
Greater knowledge of the truth about alcoholism and recovery can help people with drinking problems seek help. When loved ones and friends are able to accurately identify a drinking problem, they are able to encourage the individuals they care about to get help.