The idea of becoming sober can be overwhelming. Deciding to begin on a path to sobriety is not as simple as deciding whether to wear shorts or pants today. Misconceptions about being sober and in recovery can further your hesitations in making such an important, life-altering decision.
Understanding these are just misconceptions can make you feel more confident about living a life in recovery and help jump-start you on your journey.
1. Being in recovery is lonely
On the contrary, addiction is lonely, not recovery. A hallmark of a person struggling with addiction is self-isolation. Many addicts feel ashamed of their situation and purposefully avoid friends or family to avoid being found out, or so that they can secretly use.
A staggering percentage of Americans report having a substance abuse problem; some estimates suggest as many as 35% or more. Of those substance abusers, as many as 10% report being in recovery. The point is, you’re not alone. Once you begin to live a life of honesty and transparency, you may be surprised to find that many of the people around you can share in your experiences.
2. Relapse is failure
The vast majority of people in recovery can tell you they have relapsed at least once in their journey. The important take-away from a relapse is that you are human and you make mistakes, but you need to pick yourself back up from them and get right back to work.
It can be disappointing when you’re counting up your days sober only to have to reset your count back to one, but many use this moment as a motivator to not lose their way again.
3. Using medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is not really being in recovery
There is a fundamental difference between a drug addiction and a drug dependence. Using a medication that enables you to stay abstinent from illicit drugs does not mean you’re not in recovery or trading one addiction for another.
Medications are a tool in your recovery toolbox that can help you remain comfortable physically so you’re able to focus on the mental and emotional work that needs to be done to attain recovery.
4. You have to hit rock bottom before you can get sober
Becoming sober is a decision that everyone must make for themselves. You do not have to lose everything and everyone or hit rock bottom to decide to become sober.
You’ll find yourself better positioned to begin your recovery journey if you have a support group of friends and family you can reach out to when you need them. It also helps to have a job or hobby you find fulfilling to go back to once you’ve completed your treatment program. This structure can help support you as you establish a new routine and find new ways to cope with stress.
5. You have to be religious to get sober
Many addicts who enter a 12-step recovery program hesitate on steps 2 and 3, which can easily be misinterpreted as having to believe in God to achieve sobriety. The simple truth is, you don’t. Step 2 refers to a higher power; your higher power can be whatever that means to you.
For example, many patients who attend group therapy look to their group as their higher power. Your higher power can literally be anything outside of yourself that can “restore (you) to sanity.” You may choose to meditate rather than pray. While no one would discourage faith and religion if that is your core belief system, it is also in no way a requirement of recovery.
6. Being in recovery is boring
This is one of the biggest myths about recovery that especially hinders younger people from seeking treatment. Many teens and young adults’ addictions begin due to anxiety they may feel in social situations. The truth is, using drugs and alcohol to loosen up in social situations is nothing more than a band-aid that just covers up the underlying issue of anxiety.
Life as an addict is, in retrospect, no fun at all. Addicts, over time, tend to lose the trust of their friends and family and can end up isolated or may eventually find their friend groups only include fellow users. You’ll find that being in recovery may open up opportunities that you couldn’t even fathom while using. You may discover you have time to dedicate to meaningful life experiences alone or with others when you’re not devoting your time to feeding your addiction.
7. Friends and family will never trust you again
You may think that once you tell your friends and family that you are struggling with addiction they’ll stop trusting you. Your friends and family are likely to have already been suspicious about your use, and coming clean to them is more likely to be the first step in regaining their trust.
Depending on your situation, you may have some work to do to regain trust, but being in recovery is always a step in the right direction.
8. You can never be around alcohol again
There will come a day in your recovery when you feel strong enough to attend a party or go to a restaurant where others are drinking. You can learn tools so you are comfortable in those situations. These tools may include ordering a non-alcoholic beverage, seeking counseling or group therapy before the outing, or planning a dignified way to say goodnight if the temptation becomes too great.
9. You will forever struggle with not drinking or using drugs
The first days, weeks, and months of recovery can be tough. It is no small feat to be faced with changing your way of life, past habits, and replacing your former best friend (your drug of choice) with new healthier ways, practices, and friends.
However, as most people in recovery will tell you, it gets easier. You may find that as the years in recovery go by; it becomes something you don’t even think about anymore. You eventually find healthier ways to cope with stress and emotions, and these integrate into your new lifestyle.
10. A 12-step program is the only way to get sober
A 12-step program is just one of the many tools available to you as you are becoming sober. As the disease of addiction becomes better understood, the methods used for treating the disease have also improved. There is more and better help available to you than ever before.
At Right Path Addiction Treatment Centers, we can use a combination of effective methods to help you get sober. These include MAT, behavioral therapy, and a team of holistic and healthcare professionals devoted to addressing your individual needs.
If you’re ready to put aside the myths of recovery and take the first steps to a healthier, sober life, Right Path Addiction Treatment Centers can help. Don’t delay treatment any longer. Begin your recovery today.
Native of Moldova, Dr. Zhitar is Board Certified in Addiction Medicine as well as Internal Medicine and completed his training at UPMC Shadyside, Pittsburgh, PA in 2000.