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As we all know, there are a ton of stereotypes and stigma that surround addiction and recovery. Unfortunately, we must spend time debunking these recovery myths in order to educate the public and make help and treatment available to those who need it. If we don’t try our hardest to create an environment that’s accepting and promotes recovery, we will continue to see lives lost and an addiction epidemic that rages. Here are 5 recovery myths debunked.
1. You’re only sober if you’re in AA
Alcoholics Anonymous is the main treatment path of alcohol use disorder. Whenever we hear the words alcoholism, addiction, or alcoholic, we automatically think of AA and the 12 steps. People who don’t know much about sobriety think that if you’re sober you must be a member of AA and spend your nights in church basements drinking coffee. In today’s world, however, that’s just not true. AA is just one of many pathways to recovery, and it is not a requirement for being sober. Some people get sober on their own, and some people use other programs like Refuge recovery, SMART recovery, online recovery groups, or other 12-step programs. You’re sober when you abstain from drugs and alcohol, whatever way that is for you.
2. If you’re using medication-assisted treatment you’re not really sober
There’s a misconception in the recovery community that if you’re using medication like methadone or buprenorphine as a component to your recovery, you’re not really sober. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a form of addiction treatment that combines medication, counseling, and behavioral therapy. Prescribing medication to people with opioid use disorders helps regulate brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of opioids, relieve cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative effects of the misused drug. Some people do not believe this is an effective treatment tactic because they use opioids to treat opioid addiction. Some people believe you can’t be sober if you’re using these medications to help your recovery. MAT is a form of harm reduction and it saves lives. You can absolutely be sober with the help of medication.
3. People in recovery don’t go to places where people drink
It is assumed that people who no longer drink don’t want to be anywhere where alcohol is present. First of all, each person’s recovery is their own. It’s true that some sober people may not feel comfortable around certain drinking situations. It’s up to them where they decide to go and spend their time. However, it’s not true that we don’t go places because people will be drinking. If we did that, we’d have to avoid most social interactions and life events for the rest of our lives. I still enjoy the occasional fun night out dancing at the club while sipping sparkling water. Each person in recovery gets to decide what events they attend, how long they stay, and what boundaries for their sobriety they have in place.
4. You need to have negative consequences like jail time to be in recovery
We’ve all heard it, “but you didn’t go to jail, but you didn’t get a DUI, but you didn’t get in trouble!” I justified my own drinking in this way countless times. If I didn’t get fired from my job or lose anything important to me, I didn’t need to get sober. We also normalize negative consequences of drinking. For example, I broke my arm in a blackout once and just told everyone it was because I was wearing high heels and tripped. The truth is that these negative consequences are not only not normal, they are dangerous. Anyone can benefit from being in recovery. You do not have to hit rock bottom in order to change your life and quit alcohol and drugs.
5. People in recovery are less than
This is sometimes a subconscious bias we hold in your minds about people in recovery. I admit I even thought this before I got sober. I used to think there was something wrong with people who had to get sober: that something was defective in them, that they were less than for some reason. I thought their lives were less fun and less fulfilling than my own. People in recovery are not less than; we are all the same, no better, no worse. We have fun, we live free, and we work on bettering ourselves every day.
Let’s keep debunking these recovery myths and show the world that recovery is possible for all of us, no matter what our story is.
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