It is estimated that there are roughly 23.5 million Americans who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction. That’s almost 1 in 10 people, which is a fairly high percentage, yet there is still a lot of mystery surrounding this disease. There is still a lot that we do not know in terms of our scientific understanding. We as of yet have not been able to isolate what exactly causes one person to suffer from addiction, while another can drink and use drugs with impunity, and we do not have a cure, so to speak, for helping those afflicted by alcoholism or drug addiction.
There is still a lot of public misconception as to what addiction looks like and how it expresses itself in individuals. Many people still believe that addiction is a choice on the part of the addict and that they do not really need to use it but are just weak-willed. People still struggle with understanding that addiction affects everyone. That it is not some far-off problem among people that they do not know, but that addiction does not discriminate among race, religion, or socio-economic background. There is also the misconception that addiction isn’t really affecting our society today, but at a social cost of $484 billion each year and the death count rising steadily from an overdose, this could not be further from the truth.
Even once a person gets sober there is still a great deal of misunderstanding among the general population as to what that means. They believe recovery to be this terrible thing where the addict is forced to live out the rest of their life walking on eggshells, always fighting off cravings during their waking hours. They see 12 Step meetings on TV or in movies and they believe them to be this sad gathering in church basements where 15 addicts sit in a circle and slap each other’s backs for not using that day, and that is why I wanted to write this. I wanted to help to dispel, what I believe to be the 3 biggest misconceptions about recovery, and in doing so hopefully, help even a single person see what recovery is truly like.
3 Biggest Misconceptions About Recovery
Making the decision to finally get clean and sober can be extremely nerve-wracking. You are making the choice to leave behind one way of life for one that you may not know much about, and many people remain in their addiction because, as the saying goes, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.”
I can say this because I lived it. I lived under the constant strain that addiction brought to my life and I remember when I first got sober I was very nervous about what that meant. I thought that I was never going to have fun again and I believed that I was going to constantly be craving because every other time I ever quit I could never shake the mental obsession. It was always with me and I didn’t understand yet that the obsession to use and drink was something that I could shed while in recovery.
So that is the first and probably the biggest misconception about recovery: that you will spend every day of the rest of your life craving drugs and alcohol. What I can tell you, is that if this was the case, almost no one would be sober. Luckily, though, and for me, it happened through working the Steps, the obsession to drink and use drugs was removed. This means that most of the time I do not even think about it. There are some days when I think a drink or a joint would be nice, but for the most part, it is a non-issue to me. If I am at a place where people are drinking, it doesn’t bother me and I do not feel compelled to drink or use like I once did.
Another misconception about recovery that many people have, especially younger people, is that they will never have fun again. I had this same fear and what I have come to realize is that my mind was lying to me about what my addiction was really like. It would remind me about the early days of my addiction, when my friends and I would get wasted and smoke pot and have a ball, but it neglected to take into account how devastating and lonely the last days of my addiction were. In the end, I was essentially alone. There were very few people that wanted anything to do with me and my life consisted of drinking and using drugs and that’s it. Not really much fun, right? Once I got sober and the withdrawals were done, I started to have fun almost immediately. I started to meet new people, who actually understood me, and we went out to dinner and the movies or the beach. It really was amazing, and I can say this in all honesty I have had more fun in recovery than I ever did while using.
The last misconception that many people have about recovery is that it’s not for everyone. This is the great lie that the addict and alcoholic tell themself. They say, those people can get it, but they are different than me, and I am just resigned to living a life of addiction until I die. That isn’t even close to the truth, because recovery is for everyone who is willing to do the work to achieve it. It doesn’t matter what religion you are, what race you are, or how much money you have, if you are willing to do the work then you can overcome your addiction and live a happy life in sobriety.
That’s my thoughts on the 3 biggest misconceptions about recovery, for what they’re worth. I hope that someone got something out of this and maybe by coming to believe that they will not crave drugs every day of their lives, they can have fun, and they can get clean and sober regardless of who they are or what they believe, they will finally make an attempt at battling their addiction and join the millions who have sought services and have already recovered.