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5 Harmful Myths About Addiction Treatment

Posted on May 22nd, 2017

Treatment for addiction saves lives. But there is still a lot of uncertainty about what rehab for substance abuse can or cannot accomplish. As a result, people have polarized views about inpatient addiction treatment, either idealizing it as a cure-all or cynically dismissing it as a recipe for failure.

Neither opinion is correct, but each is supported by myths that top rehab centers are doing their very best to refute. Here we will debunk some of the most damaging of these false beliefs, all of which could prevent people struggling with substance abuse from getting the expert medical assistance they desperately need.

Rehab for Addiction: Myths and Realities

  1. Substance abuse rehab centers follow a regimented treatment plan that allows for little innovation or customization. This is one of the main reasons why failure rates for rehab centers are so high.

Many people believe treatment for addiction involves nothing more than endless talk therapy, supplemented by the occasional pharmaceutical prescription. But these days, rehab centers offer a wide variety of wellness options, including training in yoga, martial arts, art and music. Alternative therapies often incorporate mind-body healing practices such as acupuncture, hypnosis or meditation. In addition, animals are often used to help recovering addicts shift their focus away from their own problems.

These practices add diversity and depth to traditional forms of addiction treatment, and they allow addiction counselors a range of options as they attempt to create healing regimens customized to the needs and life interests of each patient.

  1. Addiction treatment is more self-help gimmick than actual medical practice. Thanks to the placebo effect, it may work for a while, but once patients are discharged, they will almost always return to drugs or alcohol.

The top rehab centers rely exclusively on evidence-based medical techniques and procedures. Psychotherapy, anti-craving medications, peer group meetings, life skills classes and mind-body healing techniques have played a constructive role in recovery for millions of addicts and alcoholics, and scientific studies have established the effectiveness of such methods beyond a reasonable doubt.

Relapse is common after addiction treatment because overcoming chemical dependency is a tremendously difficult challenge.  A 30- to 90-day stay in a residential treatment center is only the beginning of a complex healing process that will continue for a lifetime.

  1. Mental health troubles are a complicating causative factor in many cases of drug and alcohol addiction. Unfortunately, their presence usually dooms addiction treatment to failure, since traditional rehab isn’t designed to address the true reasons for a mentally ill person’s use of drugs and alcohol.

Addiction specialists are well aware that mental health disorders often accompany chemical dependency. Research has shown that both conditions (or all conditions if more than one co-occurring mental health disorder is present) must be treated simultaneously if true healing is to occur.

Consequently, patients in rehab with a dual diagnosis for substance abuse and a mental health condition will receive integrated treatment services designed to promote comprehensive wellness. This is the best way for individuals with mental health issues to address their substance abuse problems while learning to cope more constructively with their unique life challenges.

  1. A man or women has to be highly motivated and totally committed to recovery, right from the outset, if addiction treatment is to work. Without this strong desire to heal (which many addicts lack) conquering chemical dependency will be virtually impossible.

At first consideration this assertion seems like common sense. But by no means is it a hard-and-fast rule.

In many instances those who are in denial about the depth of their addiction will experience significant breakthroughs during treatment, thanks to counselors and peers who are able to help them see the truth. Likewise, many highly motivated men and women struggle tremendously to control their substance use even after a productive stint in rehab, in part because they underestimate just how difficult overcoming addiction can be.

  1. If an addict relapses following treatment, everything they went through will have been wasted. In fact, they may be worse off than if they’d never gone through addiction treatment at all, since they obviously need something different.

Relapse following treatment for chemical addiction is common. In fact, it happens more often than not. But relapse is not the end of the world, nor is it the end of recovery. Addicts learn a great deal about themselves during rehab and emerge equipped with powerful self-development tools that can help them build a safer and brighter future. While subsequent falls from grace are unfortunate, all of this vital knowledge and insight is not automatically lost when relapse occurs.

It may take a good bit of time and even multiple trips to rehab before an addict or alcoholic is able to maintain sobriety for an indefinite period. But each life lesson they learn along the way has value, and while relapse is a setback, it does not cancel out the lasting, positive effects of professional addiction treatment.

Addiction Treatment Is a Difference-Maker, and That Is No Myth

There are no guarantees, but addiction treatment works better than its detractors claim. One month-long visit to a residential treatment facility may not be enough to preserve permanent sobriety, but it does increase the chances that an addict or alcoholic will eventually learn to control their self-destructive behavior.

Rehab isn’t a cure for addiction but it can have tremendous therapeutic effects over the long haul. Anyone who is abusing drugs or alcohol should be encouraged to seek professional help immediately, before disaster strikes and the doors to healing are closed forever.

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