Deciding to stop using drugs or drinking alcohol is difficult for many people. Remaining sober requires daily hard work, commitment, complete self-honesty, and diligent self-care–and these major changes can feel terrifying to people. Others may not want to admit to themselves or their loved ones that they are struggling with addiction. They fear the societal stigmas attached to addiction and choose to suffer alone rather than being labeled or judged. Still others fear sobriety because they believe life will be boring without drugs or alcohol or that they will have trouble meeting people and socializing without substances.
Many myths about getting sober thrive in society. We’ve chosen four of those myths to debunk below. Misinformation should never stop someone from getting the help they need.
Myth #1 – Addiction is a Choice
If you believe addiction is a choice, you are putting yourself at risk for relapse. The implication of this myth is that people who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction lack self-control or discipline. That if they wanted to stop using drugs or drinking alcohol, they could.
The truth is that addiction is a complex brain disease. It is chronic, debilitating, and over time, will change the person’s brain so that it becomes dependent on the substance to function. Addiction disrupts areas in the brain responsible for motivation, learning, reward, memory, and judgment.
Myth #2 – You Cannot Be Around Alcohol When You Are Sober
The myth that once you get sober, you have to stay away from all places that serve alcohol and people who use alcohol is a very common one. People falsely believe they cannot go to parties or bars where alcohol is available. Some people believe that they cannot be friends with a person who drinks alcohol.
The truth is that in early recovery, proximity to alcohol can be a relapse trigger. However, as the person progresses in sobriety, they gain more self-awareness and knowledge. They become more able to discern whether a person or situation will put their sobriety at risk. Over time, most people in recovery from a substance use disorder can attend weddings, parties, and other social events where alcohol is available and still feel comfortable and safe.
Myth #3 – Sober Life Is Boring
Many people struggling with addiction believe that if they get sober their lives will be boring.
The truth is that sobriety allows people to live happier and more fulfilling lives. Many people in recovery find they no longer get pleasurable feelings from drugs or alcohol. They find they do not need to be high to enjoy life. With greater health and clarity, they are able to go back to doing things they enjoyed before addiction took over their life. They live a fuller and happier life without being weighed down by the effects of drugs or alcohol.
Myth #4 – You Can Still Use Other Substances That You Did Not Have a Problem with Before
This myth is extremely dangerous and usually results in the individual relapsing with their drug of choice after drinking alcohol or using a different type of drug.
The truth is that addiction does not discriminate based on the type of drug used. For example, a person in recovery from an addiction to opioid painkillers cannot safely drink alcohol. That’s because addiction involves more than the excessive use of drugs or alcohol. It stems from underlying issues that need to be addressed, and there may also be genetic factors involved. Most people with a drug or alcohol addiction will become addicted to any substance as long as it helps them forget the feelings they want to avoid.
You Are Not Alone
Anyone can become addicted to alcohol or drugs. If you or a loved one needs help with a substance use disorder, please reach out. At English Mountain Recovery, located in the serene mountains of Sevierville in Eastern Tennessee, we help you overcome your addiction and live a healthy, sober life. Take the first step on the path to recovery, and contact us today.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.