Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing


10 Dangerous Misconceptions about Drug Rehab

by Trix Mejia

Compared to other areas of medicine, addiction treatment is still a relatively new field. Over the few decades that modern substance rehabilitation has been in existence, there have been a lot of ideas that were once widely accepted that is now discredited by mainstream clinicians today.

Unfortunately, many of these mistaken ideas have made it to pop culture and are still accepted as truth by many regular people. These misconceptions have proven dangerous to many who need to seek treatment for substance use disorders and they continue to be the bane of drug treatment specialists today.

Below are some of the most pervasive and dangerous misbeliefs people have about rehab and substance use. If you’re in North Texas and need help for a drug or alcohol problem, check out this directory to find a Dallas rehabilitation center that suits your specific needs.


1.) You need to wait for rock bottom

There is a popular idea that someone needs to hit “rock bottom” before they can recover from a drug or alcohol problem. This was once the prevailing idea among addiction treatment experts but now it’s known to be completely untrue.

On the contrary, the earlier substance use disorders are treated, the more likely someone can make a full recovery. Waiting just gives time for the disease to grow out of control and often results in a painfully protracted and expensive recovery period.

2.) Addictions are incurable

Despite popular belief, substance use disorders are an entirely treatable condition. While being completely cured with no cravings whatsoever is not always possible, these disorders can always be managed. However, a full recovery may take months or years because of how slowly the brain heals and forms new connections that are not reliant on substance use.

3.) Substance users are unproductive and irrational

Popular culture often paints people with drug and alcohol problems with a wide brush. They are often portrayed as homeless, unreasonable, or totally self-destructive. However, most people with substance issues tend to be able to function quite well. Many heavy drug and alcohol users don’t exhibit outward problems with their substance use and some can even hide their problems for years.

4.) A detox is enough

While a detox may help stabilize a patient and greatly reduce their body’s dependence on their drug of choice, changes to their brain will remain. Even without traces of drugs or alcohol in their body, the restructuring of the brain to be comfortable without substances will take some time. This often means that patients leave detox with very strong cravings. Without therapy, a person that detoxes is likely to relapse before their brain has a chance to recover.

5.) Willpower is all a substance user needs

Substance use disorders can destroy a person’s willpower. Though people with these types of diseases could still be rational, they can make it extremely difficult or impossible to act in one’s self-interest. It’s precisely for that reason that help from substance treatment specialists and therapists is so critical and why residential programs are often recommended in severe cases.

6.) Marijuana is completely safe

While marijuana is comparatively safe compared to most illicit drugs and alcohol, it isn’t risk-free. Newer strains of cannabis are dozens or hundreds of times more potent than heirloom varieties from decades ago and there is evidence that such high doses of THC can have negative effects on the brain, particularly in adolescents. For this reason, cannabis should only be taken as indicated by a physician, where legal.

7.) Alcohol is not as harmful as illicit drugs

While legal for anyone over 21 and widely accessible, alcohol’s long-term effects are comparable, if not worse, than that of many so-called “hard drugs”. These effects may even be worse if one starts drinking regularly as an adolescent.

8.) It’s not anyone elses problem

As with any serious illness, seeing a friend or family member go through a psychiatric disorder like addiction can be heartbreaking. In some cases, it may be traumatizing enough for family members to need therapy as well. It’s also important to note that patients getting treated for substance use disorders tend to do best when they know that their family is actively involved in their recovery through regular visits and family therapy sessions.

9.) All they do in rehab is talk

While it’s true that some rehab centers are more focused on group and individual counseling, most drug rehabs will give patients access to a wide range of therapeutic interventions. For instance, many rehabs also offer medical detox and withdrawal management. Most also offer some kind of behavioral therapy to give patients the coping skills they need for a life outside of rehab.

10.) Going to rehab is something to be ashamed about

Thankfully, most people today understand that substance use disorders are a serious illness and are not a moral failing. However, the idea that addiction is shameful is still culturally ingrained, which leads many to believe that seeking treatment is somehow an admission of defeat.

In reality, the opposite is true. It takes a lot of courage to go through rehab, especially if one has been living with substance misuse all their life. If anything, choosing to go through the process is a positive sign.


Substance use treatment is an ever-evolving practice. Some things experts believe to be true now may later be found false in a few years. Regardless, our understanding of addiction is constantly improving, and this is reflected in the rise in recovery rates at rehab centers that use evidence-based treatments.

If you feel that you or someone you’re close to might have a substance use disorder, don’t wait or make assumptions based on what you think you know. Make sure to get in touch with a qualified psychiatrist immediately.

About the Author

Trix Mejia is a content marketer from the Philippines. She is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and finding ways to achieve modern comforts in a sustainable manner. In her free time, you can find her prepping meals in the kitchen or exploring new running routes in the neighborhood. She also loves traveling.

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