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Recovery Misinformation, Part 2

Misinformation, Misinformation Misses the Mark When It Comes to Recovery -- Part Two

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

In a recent entry, we began the process of replacing some bad information about substance use disorders and recovery with good information. 

As we noted last time out, there are little snippets of so-called “accepted wisdom” out in the world that everyone seems to accept as true—even though frequently this “wisdom” is not true at all. You can probably think of all kinds of examples of this phenomenon. We might point to a time when cigarette smoking was such a part of American culture, commercials would announce that “four out of five doctors” (doctors!) smoked this or that brand. Of course, the healthfulness of cigarettes is no longer accepted wisdom!

Let’s take on some ideas that should not be accepted wisdom about substance use disorders, their treatment, and the recovery journey. 

Alcohol isn’t nearly as big a problem as other drugs. FALSE!

Last time out, we addressed the false notion that legal drugs are safer than illegal substances. Now, we want to zero in on alcohol, because some people are convinced that it is much safer than other drugs. While it is certainly true that alcohol plays a big role in our culture (kind of like cigarettes used to), it does not follow that it is safe for everyone who partakes.

In fact, for people who develop a substance use disorder centered on alcohol, the consequences can be quite dire. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that alcohol ranks among the leading preventable causes of death in the United States. 

That is worth repeating: Alcohol ranks among the leading preventable causes of death in the United States. That is why getting treatment for a problem with alcohol sooner rather than later is so essential.

One time through treatment should always be enough. FALSE! 

If we lived in a perfect world, this particular myth would be true. (Though, truthfully, if we did live in a perfect world, substance use disorders would not be something to worry about.) 

But in reality, many people in recovery experience relapses for a variety of reasons. That is why this myth can be so dangerous. If a person believes a single time through treatment should “cure” them forever, they may decide they are failures who simply lack the ability to get and stay sober. That would be a tragic result of this myth about recovery.

Instead, a person who experiences a relapse should return to treatment immediately. Not because they have failed, but because getting back into treatment means regaining sobriety again as quickly as possible. The recovery journey may require a number of restarts over time; that’s just the nature of substance use disorders, which are treatable but not curable. Returning to treatment doesn’t indicate failure. Instead, it indicates a true desire to live a sober life.

You can put off treatment until you hit ‘rock bottom.’ FALSE!

The idea of “rock bottom” is a dangerous one because it allows a person who is struggling with drugs or alcohol to keep putting off treatment by redefining what rock bottom means to them. Another way to think of this is that the idea of rock bottom often involves a process known as “moving the goalposts.”

You, no doubt, have witnessed someone who keeps moving the goalposts. In fact, maybe you have been that person yourself. It happens like this. 

A person decides that they will get help for a substance use disorder when they are at rock bottom. At first, that might mean that they will get help if, say, they have a gap in their memory after a night of using one drug or another. But then that happens, and the person decides that is not really rock bottom. Instead, they decide they will get help if they ever engage in risky behavior after using drugs or alcohol—driving while under the influence, for example. But then that happens, and the person decides that is not really rock bottom. And so on.

Instead of constantly redefining rock bottom, you should get treatment as soon as you suspect you are developing an issue with drugs or alcohol. Getting help sooner means regaining your sobriety sooner—which in turn means putting your life back together sooner.

We’ve Got More Misinformation to Correct

Even two entries into this series, we have yet to address some additional misinformation that might upend the way you think about substance use disorders and their treatment. Look for another blog post on this topic soon.

Get the Help You Need at Bel Aire Recovery Center

Here’s the truth: Bel Aire Recovery Center, located near Wichita, Kansas, offers personalized treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. You can count on us to bring a spirit of empathy to a process guided by evidence, expertise, and experience. The best time to get help for a substance use disorder is always right now. So if you are ready to make a life-changing move toward sobriety, we are ready to help.

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