People tend to have many misconceptions about recovery from addiction. These misunderstandings can be harmful for those people who are struggling with alcohol or drug use. The dangers of recovery myths include:
* Addicts will use these fallacies as a justification to avoid getting help for their problem. It can mean that the view sobriety as a waste of time.
* It means that friends and family of the addict may offer them bad advice because they accept the myths as fact.
* If people have misconceptions about recovery it can affect how they behave once they become sober. For example, if the individual believes that it is normal to relapse they can set themselves up for a fall.
* These myths about recovery can cause the addict to lose hope. Those who are trapped in addiction tend to be highly cynical so they can easily accept any negative claims about life in recovery.
* Addicts tend to share these myths with each other like a virus. They use such misconceptions as a means to solidify their culture of substance abuse.
* Those people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs live in a world of delusion. These myths can lead to an increased separation from reality and make it more difficult for the individual to understand their predicament.
There are many different misconceptions about recovery. Most of these originate from half-truths or from those individuals who had a bad experience when they try to become sober. The most common recovery myths include:
The claim that relapse is a normal part of recovery can be harmful when misunderstood. It is true that most addicts will have a few failed attempts before they eventually quit for good. The problem is that many people take the claim normal part of recovery to mean that it is something that they need to do. They may even view it as the green light to keep on relapsing. They can console themselves with the idea, of course I’ve relapsed it is a normal part of recovery. If people return to their addiction there is no guarantee that they will ever be able to quit again. Those who keep on relapsing are playing a dangerous gaming, and there is nothing to be gained from it. There are plenty of individuals who do manage to enter long term sobriety without a history of repeated relapse.
The claim that an addict has to hit rock bottom is also often misunderstood to mean that they need to lose everything before they will accept help. This is not the case at all. Rock bottom is a subjective term that just means that the individual has had enough. The situation is often described using the metaphor of a passenger on a descending elevator. It is up to the individual where they get off. They further they descend in the elevator the more they will lose. Some individuals will decide to quit their addiction after losing relatively little. This is referred to as a high rock bottom. There are other people who take the addiction elevator all the way to the bottom, and this means death.
Addicts will often confuse the idea of rock bottom to mean that they need to suffer more before they can change. The reality is that they have almost certainly lost enough already. They do not have to follow the path of addiction all the way to its grizzly end to understand where it is heading. The individual can decide that they are already sick and tired of being sick and tired, and this will be their personal rock bottom.
A common justification for why addicts remain addicted is the belief that sober living. This is quite an ironic belief as in reality it is the life of the addict that is dull and predictable. In the beginning of substance abuse the individual may have been given courage by alcohol or drugs to try new things. As they become addicted their horizons narrow considerably. The life of an addict is repetitive and tedious.
Those people who have established themselves in sobriety are unlikely to have problems with boredom. Recovery means that the individual can find rewarding and interesting things to do with their time. It is common for those in recovery to complain that they just do not have enough hours in the day to do all the things they want to do. Sobriety is all about trying new things and discovering real passions. The claim that it is boring couldn’t be further from the truth.
When an individual successfully recovers from an addiction they will tend to be full of gratitude. They will feel a great deal of confidence in whatever method has helped them escape the misery of substance abuse. The individual may even believe that they have found the magic cure for addiction, and they will want to share it with the world. This type of enthusiasm is commendable, but it is important to temper it with realism. The one thing that has become obvious in recent years is that there are many ways to help people escape an addiction, and that there is no one way that works for everyone. Just because a recovery path has worked well for one individual does not mean that it is going to work for somebody else. The old fashioned one size fits all approach to recovery is no longer widely accepted by the experts in the recovery community. This should hopefully mean that more individuals will find the path that is right for them instead of being shoehorned into the flavor of the month recovery option.
In the past there were some addicts who were negatively referred to as hopeless cases. These are people who repeatedly relapse or just don’t seem to have the insight to realize their situation. In many cases these hopeless cases will be suffering from a dual diagnosis. This means that they have another mental health problem alongside their addiction, and this can get in the way of recovery. In recent years there have been great improvements in the treatment of dual diagnosis so there are very few people who would be considered truly hopeless cases.
Giving up alcohol and drugs is a wonderful start, but it is not the end of the process. It would be more realistic to say that quitting an addiction is the first step in a journey that never really ends. The further along the path of recovery the individual travels the better their life will become. There is no real graduation day in sobriety because there will always be things that can be improved upon. This is why it is often said that recovery is a process and not an event.
Those individuals who turn to substance abuse for solace will usually be struggling with life. Those problems are likely to be still there when people get sober, and they will no longer have the option of hiding from them using mind-altering chemicals. Sobriety means facing reality and learning how to cope with things. The journey in recovery is all about developing the coping skills and strategies that will give the individual a sense of mastery over their own life.
It is often claimed that addicts have an addictive personality. This is referring to a set of characteristics that many of them share. These personality traits make the individual more susceptible to substance abuse, and they can continue to cause problems with people become sober. In recovery it will be a goal of the individual to chip away at these character flaws. They are unlikely to ever completely eradicate them, but the goal is progress and not perfection.
Another misconception for addicts is that a life away from alcohol or drugs will just be meaningless. This is because their addiction gives their life purpose. Even when they are not using these substances they will still be thinking about them a great deal of the time. When people become sober it can feel like a vacuum opens up in their life. The good news is that this does not last. Over time the individual will discover new things that will give their life meaning and purpose.
It is another common myth that people in recovery spending their time feeling deprived. It can seem like they are serving a prison sentence rather than living a life. The one thing that the individual really wants in life they can’t have. This picture of recovery is completely wrong for most people. In fact once people become firmly established in recovery they may rarely even think about alcohol or drugs. It just isn’t part of their life anymore. There are some people who do end up white knuckling it in recovery, but these are individuals who refuse to put enough effort into recovery.