Addicts really have it bad when it comes to public perception. There is the stigma of addiction itself, whereby the public sees drug addicts or alcoholics as druggies or losers lower than the rest of us. Of course, drugs themselves are horrible, but addiction is a disease. The average American does not tend to see it that way, or if he or she does, it doesn’t show on a grand scale. People with diabetes are treated much differently than heroin addicts. Then there is the stigma surrounding seeking help as a drug addict or alcoholic. Entering a rehabilitation program tends to be seen as hitting rock bottom. The general public perception of an addict entering drug and alcohol rehab is not that of someone making perhaps the most important decision of their lives. It is seen as a weakness, a form of being helpless – when it’s really quite the opposite. Finally, there are a handful of myths about rehab itself, what it’s like and whether or not it works. This article is meant to debunk the seven most popular of those myths and not just tell you but prove to you that rehab as an addict seeking recovery is the strongest and single most empowering move you can make. It’s not scary and it’s not overwhelming. This isn’t the mid-1900s when doctors wore white coats and experimented with your brain. Today’s rehabilitation facility, (at least the good ones), are designed to make you feel as comfortable as possible all the way through your recovery process. Let’s begin the debunking.
Myth No. 1 – “Rehab is like jail.”
This is absolutely false. Jail is like jail. Rehabilitation facilities are extremely accommodating, sometimes even offering extracurricular activities such as hiking, swimming, basketball or tennis. Of course, there is around the clock treatment, abstaining from all illicit substances, and multiple forms of therapy (depending on your addiction), but there are also books and movies and sometimes computers with internet and comfortable furniture and usually decent food to eat. If this is jail, then you are Martha Stewart. The only goal of any rehab facility is to provide a safe and friendly environment for an addict seeking help to detoxify from his or her substance(s) of choice, and to make his or her stay at the facility as comfortable as possible. Jail-like surroundings are not conducive to healing. Also, in case you are wondering, you can leave rehab at any time! You are not a prisoner! Unless of course your stay at the rehab is mandated, you are free to check out whenever you want to.
Myth No. 2 – “I’m not bad enough of an addict to need rehab.”
If you think you are an addict, you’re probably an addict. If you have questioned yourself as to whether or not you’re an addict, even if you came up with an answer of no, you’re probably an addict. Drug addiction and alcoholism creep in slowly but take hold fast. If you truly believe that you are a recreational user, and not addicted, ask yourself the following questions:
- Can you easily say no when it’s offered to you? If not, then you might be an addict because recreational users have no issue declining the substance.
- Do you have healthy relationships with more users than non-users? If so, then you might be an addict because we as humans tend to hang around those who have similar interests and hobbies and do the same things as us. If you are with your friends 3 or 4 times a week doing drugs or drinking, addiction has likely set in.
- Do you depend on or rely on the drug to ‘get you through’ certain things? Do you find yourself using before events like movies or concerts? If this is the case, then you might be an addict because recreational users never feel the need to be high for personal strength or gain.
- Do you crave the drug often, thinking about doing it again next? If so, then you might be an addict because cravings are one of the main signs of addiction.
- Do you spend money on the drug even though you may not be able to afford it? If so, then you might be an addict because non-addicts would never spend money on getting high when other things need to be paid.
Let us clarify. Being a recreational user of illegal drugs, or abusing legal drugs, is NOT okay. We are merely attempting to point out the differences between a recreational user and an addict. Recreational use is literally the edge of the diving board into the pool of addiction. Consider this: every single addict essentially began as a recreational user.
Myth No. 3 – “Rehab is for the rich and I can’t afford it.”
It’s no lie that rehabilitation can be expensive, especially if planning an extended stay at a facility. Health insurance covers most if not all of this cost. However, let’s face it. Not the majority of drug addicts have top of the line health insurance if any at all. Thankfully there are many ways to enter into rehab without health insurance. Of course, you will need to prove why you cannot get health insurance. You can’t just quit your job, lose your benefits, and jump right in. We feel the best place for anyone, health insurance carrier or not, to begin looking is with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s locator tool, available here. This tool is designed to cater to your specific situation. Also, it might not be as expensive as you think. Find out what prices really are before you assume they’re all through the roof. The average cost of a 90-day outpatient treatment program, with absolutely no insurance and no outside help, is around $5,000 which averages out to be about $55 a day. Now, subtract however much money you were spending on drugs and/or alcohol because you won’t be buying that in rehab! Say on average you spend $20 a day on your substance. Now, rehab costs $35 a day, well worth your health… and again that’s with NO insurance and NO outside help. Of course, the glamorous and extremely lush rehabs you tend to see glorified in movies or online can be ridiculously priced, but these facilities are designed for the rich and famous and are priced accordingly.
Myth No. 4 – “I can quit on my own without the help of rehab.”
If you are an addict and you are thinking about quitting on your own, think twice. There is a small chance you can. Then, on the other side of the coin, there is an overwhelming chance you will fail and relapse and then use even more than before. Quitting alone provides nothing but your sheer will to guard you against the widespread temptation of substance abuse. This is especially true for recovering alcoholics. Attempting to quit drinking on your own as an alcoholic is next to impossible. It’s literally everywhere. The same goes for addicts of any other substance. If you abuse it, you know where to find it. Sure you can avoid those dark alleys, so to speak, but sometimes those dark alleys find you. Triggers of relapse can appear anywhere and in any form. Being in rehab eliminates the possibility of those triggers firing. Plus, scoring drugs in rehab is quite difficult… perhaps yet another difference between rehab and jail. OK, so that was bathed in humor while also true. However, something very, very serious is how dangerous quitting alone can be. Most withdrawal symptoms from substances are intensely unpleasant when unassisted. In the cases of alcohol and opiates, unassisted withdrawal can be deadly.
Myth No. 5 – “You have to be at rock bottom to go to rehab and I am not.”
You yourself may not be at rock bottom, but that does not mean you don’t need help. You might even be what’s known as a functioning addict, meaning you can carry on a normal life, all except for the sober part. This is perhaps worse since most functioning addicts do not believe they have a problem. Rehab is definitely the right place to go from rock bottom, but you do NOT have to be at rock bottom in order to enter rehabilitation. Millions upon millions of Americans enter into treatment every year. It’s highly improbable that all of them felt they were at their absolute low point. Yet here’s something to consider. If you aren’t at rock bottom, but you’re continuing to abuse drugs or alcohol, where do you think you’re headed? Nobody ever abused their way to the top. Check into a rehab facility now before it’s too late and you do hit that personal rock bottom.
Myth No. 6 – “Rehab can be dangerous because it’s like quitting cold turkey.”
This is not true, and we’ll prove it with an age-old saying: Fight fire with fire. Sometimes it takes one to know one, so to speak, and this is the same as the human body. Drugs like buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone are designed to aid in the process of recovery; tricking the body into thinking it’s receiving the substance of choice. However, these recovery drugs are infinitely safer than street drugs or being addicted to prescription pills. Less severe opioid addicts and most alcoholics will generally be given either buprenorphine or naltrexone, respectively. In severe opioid addiction cases, methadone is often preferred. Antidepressants are also commonly used to ward off some of the negative mental effects of withdrawal, regardless of substance.
Myth No. 7 – “Rehab is for celebrities.”
While there are plenty of television shows that glorify rehab, they are shows, forms of entertainment. Entering into rehab to help better your life is not a form of entertainment; it is a form of self-help. By making the choice to go to rehab you are allowing as much help in as you can. Rehab does not belong just to child actors and outdated musicians. Rehab is meant to be a haven of assistance for those who wish to abstain from illicit drug use. If you see celebrities in rehab fail, do not let it discourage you. The majority of those who complete a treatment program remain sober. TV is not real life, and at this point in time, doesn’t even necessarily reflect it.
Rehab is not an expensive jail meant for the privileged that can be dangerous and doesn’t even help. Rehab is the opposite of all of these things. It is a freeing place, meant for all who seek it, and is safe and comfortable and absolutely works. This writer once heard someone tell him that rehab is like working out because you’re only going to get from it what you put into it. If you enter rehab with the mindset that it’s not going to work, then the chances are it’s not going to work. Yet if you give it your all and let it work for you, it will. Enter rehab if you are an addict seeking help.