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All the Things You Don’t Know About Addiction

If you have lived in active addiction for a while, or you have spent months or years living with someone who has an active addiction, you may think you know everything there is to know on the subject. The fact is, however, that those who are closest to it may not even realize that they are making life and death choices based on fictions that are not accurate.

Here are some of the truths:

Addiction is bigger than you. The impact of your drug use and abuse goes so much further than you and your family. Though you bear the immediate physical brunt and your entire family suffers emotionally, the financial cost hits your community and the rest of the country hard, and your use may even be contributing to the deaths of people you have never met before. It’s a harsh truth, but if you are interested in radical social justice and believe that you have a “right” to do what you want with your body in terms of getting high, you are actually making a decision that costs billions of dollars and an untold number of innocent lives.

If you are living with addiction, you cannot “cure” yourself. We’ve all heard stories of people who walked away from heavy, long-term addictions using nothing but willpower and never looked back. Those stories are either fabricated or untrue. If it were possible to simply decide to get sober and make it happen, far more people would do it.

Addiction is a chronic disorder just like cancer, diabetes, and hypertension, and as such, it is not something that can be fixed without medical intervention. For those who experience withdrawal symptoms, medical detox is necessary to stop use of substances safely. For those who have mental health issues contributing to their use of substances, drug rehab must include treatment that addresses those issues. For those who use substances as a way to cope with trauma, difficult emotions, or even boredom, treatment is the best possible way back to balance in recovery.

Addiction treatment does work. Addiction treatment is not a cure-all for addiction, but persistent engagement with a comprehensive and well-resourced drug addiction program will empower anyone living with active addiction to move toward long-term and sustainable sobriety. This is not a magical process that is guaranteed to occur within a 30-day, 90-day, or year-long program. Each person is different, each person’s response to treatment is different, and each treatment program is different. There are no guarantees other than it is necessary to find a drug rehab that offers a range of research-based treatment services, that can be tailored to meet your needs, and that provides the follow-up care and support you require to make the transition into sober life.

Not everyone needs a heavy-duty treatment program. It is not necessary for every person living with addiction to enroll in a year-long residential treatment program in order to build a solid foundation in recovery. Addiction occurs along a spectrum, meaning that there are some people who are addicted to a low-dose amount of a single drug after a short period of use as well as people who have been heavily addicted to high-dose amounts of several drugs of abuse for decades—and everyone in between. Depending on your needs, it may be a more effective approach to start with an outpatient treatment program, choose a drug rehab that is out of state, or find one that offers intensive mental health treatment.

Relapse does not mean that addiction treatment was unsuccessful. Addiction is a disorder that is often defined by relapse. There are a number of medical disorders that fall into this category, including diabetes, asthma, and more. When compared to the relapse rates experienced by patients living with those disorders, people in recovery for drug addiction relapse no more frequently than they do and in fact less frequently than people living with asthma and hypertension.

If drug and alcohol use is causing you to struggle in your relationships, to have run-ins with the law, or to fear for your job and financial stability, it is time to learn more about what type of treatment services will best support you in turning your life around. Are you ready to find out more about what you don’t know about addiction, treatment, and recovery?

Infographic of addiction in the US stats and facts

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