People who have never experienced an addiction sometimes think they've got it all figured out. Arm-chair quarterbacks sitting there passing judgments on those of us who made the wrong play. I've gotten to the point when people spout off to look at their feet and ask them, "Are those my shoes on your feet? No? I didn't think so."
Judgemental people are like weeds, though. You no sooner pull one out and another one pops up in its place. So, it's time to dispel the myths.
Here are some facts about addiction that I think everyone should know:
1. Addiction Causes Physical Changes in the Brain
Studies have shown that the pleasure center in the brain is altered by addiction. A new normal is created, which means that the brain requires a gradually increasing supply of the drug just for an addict to feel normal. It isn't even about getting high anymore. It's to avoid going through the ravaging sickness of withdrawal.
2. Compassion Works Better than Punishment
Put yourself in the addict's place. Imagine waking up every single day knowing that if you don't find a way to get enough of a certain drug for that day, that you are facing a debilitating illness in a matter of hours. I did it for eight years, and I can tell you it is a very hard life.
3. Detox Should Be Medically Supervised
Getting off drugs on their own is risky business. Serious medical complications can develop when an addict doesn't receive the medical intervention necessary to safely wean off of any given substance. Many people who try to detox on their own will get so far and then the withdrawal process gets so unbearable that they break down and start using again.
4. Relapse Can Be Part Of Recovery
There may be a plethora of treatment programs out there, but not every program is right for everybody. It's one thing to stay sober and begin thriving in a controlled environment. It's quite another thing altogether to return to the real world full of emotional triggers you are struggling to deal with. Relapse is not necessarily a failure; it can be a powerful learning experience. An addict in early recovery is bombarded with emotional triggers that they have to learn how to deal with while staying sober. Finding the right aftercare program is critical to success. Most times, an addict has to try on several programs until they find the right fit.
5. Hitting Rock Bottom is Not a Requirement
The relapse myth leads to the rock bottom myth. When people don't understand what the role of relapse plays in sobriety, they often assume that an addict simply doesn't want to stop using until they lose everything and feel like they can't go on anymore. However, the opposite is actually much more accurate. The sooner the intervention the better, because the longer an addict continues to use, the harder it is to commit to the major change of getting sober. The longer someone is in active addiction, the harder it is on the addict and those who love them.
Remember, recovery takes time. Some people describe it as a marathon. In many ways, a person is beginning their life all over again. Those of us in recovery spend months just getting the basics down, such as developing healthy coping skills, avoiding the people, places, and things that link us to our addiction, and finding new, healthy hobbies to fill our free time.
Building a new life is a lot like building a house; you need a firm foundation to put it on.
If you or your loved one needs help, contact us today and feel free to talk to us about addiction treatment programs at our affordable drug and alcohol rehab that fit your needs. The Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective addiction treatment center in Southern California.