Challenging the Common Rehab Myths

Men in detox

There are many addiction rehab myths for those seeing treatment for a substance issues. Almost 6 million people in the past year entered rehab [4]. A person who struggles with an addiction is most likely struggling with a secondary psychological condition like anxiety and depression.

Typically addictions are used to self-medicate or self cope with life issues. Family history is also a part of addiction, and having family members who struggle with addiction increases the likelihood that offspring are too [5].

Oftentimes myths and misperceptions around treatment can keep individuals from seeking treatment.

Debunking Some Common Addiction Treatment Myths

Myth #1: Addiction treatment centers use only one type of treatment [1, 3]. Actually addiction treatment is not a one-size fits all treatment. Each person’s experience with addiction is different and so is their treatment process. Most addiction centers will use evidence-based therapy and programming to help the person address and overcome their addiction.

Myth #2: Addiction treatment is a waste of time and money [1]. Oftentimes those who are struggling with addiction feel that treatment is a waste of time and energy. That treatment will not help them stay sober. Addiction treatment has been shown to reduce addiction 40-60% [1].

Myth #3: You have to hit rock bottom for addiction rehab to work [1, 2]. Many family and friends believe that their loved one has to be at rock bottom for treatment to work. Those struggling though can seek treatment at any point in their addiction.

Depending on a person’s motivation, they can work and be successful at recovery. When someone is heavily addicted, a supervised detox can help them wean off the substance with decreased side effects.

Prescription drugs that are commonly used with withdrawal symptoms are buprenorphine which is used for withdrawal pains from opioids; methadone, which is used for opioid and heroin addicts; naltrexone which reduces cravings and the effects of both opioids and alcohol; and antidepressants which are used for withdrawal depressive symptoms [4].

Myth #4: Drug Rehab must be voluntary to work [1]. Those that go into treatment are often times willing to go. Some are court ordered, or forced by family, but regardless of how you enter treatment, it can be successful.

Myth #5: All addiction treatment centers are the same [1, 3]. Not all treatment centers are the same. They differ in doctors, treatment modalities, and program structuring. Treatment centers also focus on different types of addictions as well as comorbid issues.

Myth #6: Addiction can be cured [2, 3]. There is no cure for addiction, but individuals with treatment can learn to manage the symptoms. Ongoing treatment can sustain sobriety and prevent relapse. Those who commit to treatment can learn to live a life free of drugs and alcohol.

Man hiker

If a person feels or states that they are cured they may begin to stop going to community groups, or therapy sessions. They are at a higher risk of relapse. Addiction is viewed similar to a cancer diagnosis. It is a disease that affects the body and mind. In addiction recovery the first step is to admit that there is a problem and seek professional help.

Myth #7: Only corrupt people use drugs [2]. Addiction affects all types of people, of all ages, and of all demographics. Individuals who seek drugs and substances will use to help cope with underlying mental health issues, or stressors in life. Individuals who use drugs and alcohol typically do so to self medicate.

Persons can lose the ability to derive pleasure from daily activities, needing increased substances to get through the day. Drugs and alcohol can also create a sense of dominance and power to make up for a feeling of inadequacy.

Myth #8: Legal Drugs are not dangerous [2]. Drugs and substances which are legal are still extremely dangerous. Prescription drugs are the cause for a majority of overdoses and addictions. Individuals can become addicted to legal substances, especially after an accident or traumatic event to help with pain management.

Myth #9: Addiction is a matter of choice [2]. The choice to use is also a cause for one to need the substance. Regardless of whether the driving force is biological or behavioral addiction is not a choice. Substances change the way a person’s brain responds to stressful situations, pleasure and reward, and risk seeking behaviors.

Even though can don’t chose addictions, you can chose treatment and recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that a person may have an initial choice to use a drug, addiction causes distinct changes in a person’s brain that affects self control and the ability to stop them self [5].

Myth #10: Recovery is religious [2]. Recovery can encourage others to seek a higher power to help a person carry them through the journey of recovery. Not all recovery centers are religious based but there are community groups and residential programs that do offer that type of programming if wanted.

Myth #11: Addicts can stop when they want too [2]. Addictions are a biological and environmental disease. People struggling with addiction often deny the severity of the problem and say they can stop when they want. It is very difficult to stop on own without support of professionals.

In conclusion, Challenging the Common Rehab Myths can help those who need treatment receive it. Many individuals and loved ones assume about addictions, making seeking treatment more difficult. Treatment can be and is successful.


Image of Libby Lyons and familyAbout the Author: Libby Lyons is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS). Libby has been practicing in the field of eating disorders, addictions, depression, anxiety and other comorbid issues in various agencies. Libby has previously worked as a contractor for the United States Air Force Domestic Violence Program, Saint Louis University Student Health and Counseling, Saint Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute Eating Disorders Program, and has been in Private Practice.
Libby currently works as a counselor at Fontbonne University and is a Adjunct Professor at Saint Louis University, and is a contributing author for Addiction Hope and Eating Disorder Hope. Libby lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys spending time with her family, running, and watching movies.



The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 30, 2017.
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About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.