“Being sober is enough.”
“She can’t change yet because she hasn’t hit rock bottom.”
“Treatment didn’t work last time so it wont work this time either.”
“Addiction is a choice and is simply a matter of will power.”
These are just a few of the many myths of addiction that exist today. While some of these myths are purely false, there are some that hold partial truth. Myths such as these create barriers to understanding what addiction is and what it is not. Additionally, these myths often feed into stigmas and stereotypes regarding addiction. This changes how we as a society approach and treat addicts, often mitigating our ability to help someone struggling with addiction. This creates a huge concern and is something I will be addressing in this blog and at our Myths of Addiction Workshop on this in late March 2020 (details to follow).
A clear and accurate understanding of addiction is absolutely fundamental to our ability to effectively help and treat individuals struggling. That being said, lets challenge one of these common myths by dispelling it: “Treatment didn’t work last time so it wont work this time either.”
This is partially true, often times treatment does not “work” the first time. This happens for a wide variety of reasons that I will get into during the aforementioned workshop in March. In part, this myth stems from the fact that many individuals struggling with addiction often attend multiple treatments before they are able to find consistent success in recovery. The key part of this myth that needs challenged is the idea that treatment will not work this time either because it did not work before. This is inherently false and is a generalization based on past events and likely frustrations and fears that treatment in fact won’t work this time. This is not a fact. Acting/believing it is a fact eliminates hope and communicates failure, either a failure of the addict to maintain sobriety or a failure of the treatment, or both. In turn, this absolutely works against any efforts of the addict, their family, friends, etc. Furthermore, believing this myth often provides an excuse as to why someone may stop trying to recover and in turn robs them of the opportunity for change and building a life of recovery.
A battle to maintain hope in the face of what seems like failure and dead-ends is a hallmark of addiction and recovery. In truth, sometimes treatment does not “work,” however, a continued belief that recovery is possible and treatment can help is precisely what makes recovery possible. Ultimately, maintaining hope and belief is what makes change possible. Most individuals in recovery will tell you that they were able to achieve change because they kept believing they could, because they kept hoping and trying. In short, this myth is paving a path to quit trying. That is not to say that feeling like treatment wont work is invalid. It is absolutely valid and needs to be recognized for what it is; however, we also know that feelings are not facts. They are often temporary and frequently changing.