7 Common Myths About Substance Addiction

young man with heroin addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance addiction, you’ve probably heard a lot of well-meant advice from a lot of people who just don’t get it. Of course, this makes sorting out the drugs abuse facts from fiction incredibly difficult.

So today, we want to clear the air. Here are 7 myths about addiction that you might believeand why they’re entirely wrong:

Myth #1: If you have an addiction, you just don’t have enough willpower

For centuries, addiction has been seen as a moral failing. The common belief was that those who were addicted simply weren’t strong enough to overcome it and that there was something inherently wrong with them.

But today, we understand addiction very differently.

Modern science has shown that addiction is a disease, not a choice.

If you have been struggling with an addiction and failing, it’s not because you’re not strong enough. It’s because you need treatment.

Myth #2: Detox is enough

Detox is the time period when you focus on getting all of the toxic substance out of your system. As the substance clears out, it can leave behind some massive withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, it’s best to detox at a recovery center, or at least in an outpatient setting, so doctors can monitor your symptoms and intervene if necessary.

But it doesn’t end there.

Getting sober is actually just the first step on the road to recovery. Staying sober—that’s the next challenge.

After detox, you’ll need intensive inpatient treatment to learn how to overcome the inevitable cravings and regain control of your body, mind, and life.

Myth #3: Rehab doesn’t work

Some people would rather try to fight through their addiction on their own that seek treatment because they believe rehab is a waste of time. But we see the powerful effects of treatment every day.

Addiction treatment works. Take it from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: “Research shows that about one-third of people who are treated for alcohol problems have no further symptoms 1 year later. Many others substantially reduce their drinking and report fewer alcohol-related problems.”

Rehab isn’t just a place. It’s an education and a lifestyle. It’s where you gain the skills you need to combat cravings, and where you get a taste of what your life could look like without addiction.

It’s a team of compassionate doctors and psychologists who are ready to help you take back your freedom. That kind of focus is powerful.

Myth #4: An addict has to want to recover in order for rehab to be effective

Bring up the topic of addiction in any group, and you’ll almost always hear “recovery only works if you really want it.” While the sentiment is usually well-intended, it’s unfortunately misguided.

Here’s the fact about addiction recovery: regardless of whether the individual wants rehab, or whether they’re only going because they were forced to by family or by court-ordered treatment, the results are very similar.

Even those who don’t care to get clean often wind up sober and ready to stay sober by the end of treatment.

Myth #5: Medication during detox and recovery is just switching one addiction for another

In modern rehab centers, pharmacotherapy—or using drugs to combat addiction—is a common practice. This might seem frightening at first, and counterintuitive. But there are a few marked differences between the prescription medicine in rehab and the drugs you’re addicted to.

The drugs in rehab are FDA-approved for specific uses. They might be used to calm cravings while your body goes through detox, or cause illegal substances to give you horrible nausea so you can have a physical incentive to avoid them.

These FDA-approved drugs are not built to give you a high and are safe to use with a doctor’s oversight.

Your doctor will monitor your dosage and help wean you off of the medication when you’re ready.

Myth #6: Rehab is only for rich people

Yes, rehab is expensive. However, if you take the time to look into your options, you might not need to pay the whole cost out of pocket.

Many insurance plans cover at least a part of drug treatment. If you are below a certain income threshold, you may be eligible for public healthcare through Medicaid.

The cost of rehab with insurance can be much more affordable than paying on your own.

Even if your insurance won’t cover drug rehab, some recovery centers offer financial aid or payment programs. Your employer may be willing to help with costs, or a family member may be willing to give you a loan.

Myth #7: If you relapse after rehab, you’re back to square one

Relapse is not defeat—it’s a normal, even expected part of recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse compares addiction treatment to treatment for hypertension. Both follow a similar pattern of treatment, relapse, and treatment adjustment:

“Successful treatment for addiction typically requires continual evaluation and lapses to drug abuse do not indicate failure—rather, they signify that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted, or that alternate treatment is needed.”

If you relapse, don’t lose hope. Talk to your counselor or sponsor, refocus, and get back in the game.

Let us help you find the truth

Planning for rehab can be a complicated process. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get the help you need. Learn about our treatment programs, and when you’re ready, give us a call. We can’t wait to hear from you.


“Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. National Institutes of Health, 2014. Web. 11 Jul 2016. <http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Treatment/treatment.htm>.

“Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).” National Institute on Drug Abuse. National Institutes of Health, Dec 2012. Web. 22 Jul 2016. <https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment>.

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