On June 11, 2012, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, delivered a speech at the Betty Ford Center. Kerlikowske called for a “paradigm shift” on substance abuse, whereby addiction would be considered a public health issue and not a crime. He also acknowledged that addiction “is not a moral failing on the part of the individual, but a chronic disease of the brain that can be treated.”
Kerlikowske’s speech focused on changing the way Americans view addiction, moving away from punishment and toward prevention, treatment and recovery. But in order for a real “paradigm shift” to occur, there are a few common myths of treatment that must be debunked. Through public awareness and community outreach, more and more individuals who struggle with the disease of addiction will get the help they need for long-term recovery.
Myth #1 – Addicts/Alcoholics Have to Want Treatment
Oftentimes family members believe the addict/alcoholic has to want treatment in order to experience success. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is rare that a person enrolls in treatment out of sheer desire. Instead, he or she is typically forced into drug and alcohol rehab by a spouse or significant other, the judicial system or an employer, to name a few. It isn’t until some time has passed in addiction treatment that the individual sees the promise of recovery.
Myth #2 – Addicts/Alcoholics Must Hit Rock Bottom
Addicts/alcoholics come in many forms — even if the individual has not hit the stereotypical ‘rock bottom,’ he or she can still benefit from drug and alcohol treatment. The ultimate goal in recovery is to prevent the all-time low from taking place.
Myth #3 – Addicts/Alcoholics Are Not Likely to Change
Society often views addicts/alcoholics as stubborn and weak-minded. This is pure myth. Addiction is a disease that crosses all socio-economic boundaries, from high-functioning executives to high school dropouts. Although most addicts/alcoholics are resistant to substance abuse treatment, they will begin to see a brighter side of life once they give it a chance. Abstinence is the start of recovery — the psychic change comes a little later.
Myth #4 – Addicts/Alcoholics Must Recover for Themselves
This sort of ties back to myth #1. Addicts/alcoholics don’t have to want to be in treatment, nor do they have to recover for themselves. If they maintain the frame of mind that they’re in recovery for a loved one, that’s okay. The point is, they are in treatment. Once the individual gives recovery a shot, he or she will eventually accept this new way of life, whether it’s for someone else or not.
Myth #5 – All Addiction Treatment Facilities Are the Same
Sometimes the addict/alcoholic goes through several rehab centers until he or she finds lasting recovery. Family members often become exhausted and discouraged at this point, and they begin to think all facilities are alike. This is simply not true. Every addiction treatment center has a specialty, including dual-diagnosis, gender-specific, long-term residential and the Therapeutic Community model. When searching for the best drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, conduct extensive research before making a decision.