You Deserve Freedom

Recovery Misinformation, Part 1


Misinformation Misses the Mark When It Comes to Recovery — Part One

Have you ever heard that you need to wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you go swimming? Or have you been told that sitting too close to your television will damage your eyes? Or how about being told that if you swallow a watermelon seed you are at risk of having a melon grow in your belly?

Turns out, none of these things is true. Nevertheless, each of these statements was repeated over and over again—and plenty of people have believed them to be true (though the one about the watermelon seems really silly, right?). That tends to be the way misinformation works. If a person hears something over and over again, that idea can come to feel true even if there is no evidence to support it. And when a whole lot of people start to believe something is true, it can become “accepted wisdom,” even though it is not wise at all.

While these three examples of misinformation are not terribly harmful to anyone, when it comes to misinformation about substance use disorders and their treatment, bad information can absolutely lead to bad outcomes. 

As a result, we want to debunk some myths about substance use disorders and give you accurate information about these important topics. If you are currently struggling with drugs or alcohol, we hope this information will encourage you to get the help you need—sooner rather than later.

This idea, it seems to us, is a lot like the watermelon seed story. It seems pretty ridiculous on its face. After all, alcohol is legal, but most everyone knows it can be dangerous and can lead to the development of a substance use disorder. Similarly, marijuana is legal in more and more places, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t problematic for many people.

And, of course, prescription drugs are legal, but a truly startling number of people have developed substance use disorders centered on painkillers that were prescribed for them by their doctors. And prescription painkillers are far from the only medicines that can lead to problems. According to the National Center For Drug Abuse Statistics, up to two million Americans are addicted to prescription drugs.

If a person is experiencing success, they must not be addicted to drugs or alcohol. FALSE!

If you are a person who is succeeding at work or school, maintaining strong relationships, and just generally moving through the world with apparent ease, you might conclude that you cannot possibly have developed a substance use disorder despite using drugs or alcohol to excess. Success can feel like it is the opposite of addiction, but the truth is many people hold their lives together in the early days of a drug or alcohol problem—and that allows them to hide the problem from their coworkers, their friends, their family, and even themselves.

Eventually, however, a substance use disorder has a way of catching up with you. It is far better, then, to get help for a problem early on—before your physical and mental health truly deteriorate and serious consequences start piling up.

Addiction is a choice and a reflection of bad character. FALSE!

This bit of misinformation is particularly harmful. It suggests that an individual who has developed a substance use disorder has done so because they have a weak character, a lack of willpower, or insufficient faith. None of that is true. A substance use disorder, after all, is brain disease—not a reflection on a person’s underlying character.

What makes this myth so problematic is that it can make the person who is struggling with drugs or alcohol feel as though they have to overcome their challenges all on their own. Given the challenges of addiction—including powerful withdrawal symptoms that can make it all but impossible to give up a substance—this suggestion that a substance use disorder is some sort of moral failing is likely to make a person’s problem worse rather than better.

We’re Not Done Undermining Misinformation

We have addressed three untrue ideas about substance use disorders in this blog entry, but we have barely scratched the surface. We’ll devote a couple more entries to giving you high-quality information that might help you or someone you love decide to get treatment to reclaim sobriety.

Here is Something True: We Can Help

Located near Wichita, Kansas, Bel Aire Recovery Center provides personalized, evidence-based care for individuals struggling with a substance use disorder. We can also address co-occurring mental health disorders—like depression, anxiety, or issues based in trauma—that may be tangled up with your substance use problem. We provide medically supervised detoxification, a robust rehabilitation program, and ongoing support to help you launch your recovery journey with confidence. If you need help, we can provide it—and that is the unvarnished truth.

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